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Peter Tamony

Peter Tamony

American linguist
Peter Tamony
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American linguist
Was Lexicographer Linguist
From United States of America
Type Literature Social science
Gender male
Birth 9 October 1902
Death 24 July 1985 (aged 82 years)
Star sign Libra
Peoplepill ID peter-tamony
The details (from wikipedia)


Peter Tamony (October 9, 1902 – July 24, 1985) was an American folk-etymologist who is noted for his research on American colloquial speech, Jazz music and sports.

Early life

Tamony was born at home in San Francisco, California, to Irish immigrants. He attended a parochial school at St. Peter's Church, and learned Latin and rhetoric from the progressive Father Peter Yorke, a supporter of modernizing the church, organized labor, and Irish independence. In 1905, Tamony's family bought a flat at 2876 24th Street in the Mission District where he lived for eighty years until his death at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.

Interest in language

Tamony first became interested in etymology when he noticed various speech patterns. At the age of 20, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and couldn't participate in sports; this led him to pay close attention to sports in newspapers, and from there to analyzing how people used words. His sources eventually included any kind of material he could collect such as posters and blues records.

He later became a real estate broker and notary, but for more than 50 years, Tamony collected examples of language, storing hundreds of cardboard cartons with file cards, newspaper clippings, conversation notes, and literature quotations. Folklorist Archie Green reminisced about the late Tamony as his mentor: "I look back at Peter Tamony as a keeper of a Celtic clan's lore, a bard in a magic three-storied castle - not in legendary Erin, but rather in San Francisco's Mission District."


On April 8, 1986, Kathleen Tamony donated her brother's collection to the University of Missouri. It is now archived at the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Selected works

  • Tamony, Peter (Jan 1969). "Hoodlums and Folk Etymology". Western Folklore. Western States Folklore Society. 28 (1): 44–48. doi:10.2307/1499108. JSTOR 1499108..
  • Tamony, Peter (Summer 1981). "Tripping out from San Francisco". American Speech. Duke University Press. 56 (2): 98–103. doi:10.2307/455009. JSTOR 455009. PMID 11623430..
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 07 Jun 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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