Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 14 04:08:01 UTC 2000

Donald M. Lance writes:
>The word 'indigenous' seems so much like one of those Latinate
>encroachments on our
>"indigenous" English language that I would have been surprised to
>find that we borrowed it
>from Latin American usage.  Who would the borrowers have been?  The
>small group of USians
>who actually read anything in Spanish during the time when Spanish
>was not considered
>appropriate as a research language for a Ph.D. degree ("no important
>literature in
>M-W10 (1993) dates this word back to 1646.  Maybe some of the
>lexicographers on ADS-L will
>know of earlier citations.

While that cite is also the first in the OED, there's an earlier one
for "indigene", which may have been borrowed from the French word of
the (almost) same form:

1598 Hakluyt Voy. I. 491 They were Indigene, or people bred vpon that
very soyle.

If this was adapted from Rabelais (who used the word before Hakluyt
did), that would enable all those department chairs who insisted that
French was a more appropriate language to be used as a PhD research
tool to say they told us so.  The shift to the -ous form in the 17th
century would have been a case of nativizing the adjective.


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