FW: Algonquin/Lenape

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Tue Nov 30 01:47:48 UTC 2004

I don't think this went through, so I'm sending it again. BB
Forwarded to me from George Thompson, on the ADS. BB

PEOPLE OF NEW YORK, by Evan T. Pritchard, Council Oak Books, San Francisco
and Tulsa, 2002.

  Has there ever been a language subjected to so much abuse by pretentious
dabblers, as the Lenape language? From Rafinesque's WALAM OLUM (and all its
modern-day "translators") to Wenning's HANDBOOK OF THE DELAWARE INDIAN
LANGUAGE, charlatans and dilettanti of every kind have had their goes at
duping the general public (and sometimes academia!) by their linguistic
legerdemain?often with surprising success. Evan T. Pritchard, Professor of
Native American Studies at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, has now
given us another work in this genre?perhaps the worst yet.
  All of these "linguists" have learned that most Lenape words consist of
two or more morphemes. Unfortunately, the grammatical rules that intractably
govern morpheme boundaries are totally ignored by these "linguists" as they
analyze existing words and create new ones. Unfettered by grammar, they
"dice and splice" and "cut and paste" to their hearts' delight!
  Professor Pritchard has discovered a unique approach. Having learned what
he knows of Lenape from David Zeisberger's ESSAY OF A DELAWARE-INDIAN AND
ENGLISH SPELLING-BOOK (Philadelphia, 1776), he noticed that Zeisberger left
a space between the syllables of every word with more than one syllable.
Zeisberger's aim in separating syllables was to provide a mnemonic device
for learning words by the number of syllables in them. Pritchard, however,
has taken these spaces between syllables to be morpheme boundaries! This
enables him to produce some very novel forms, to say the least.
   In what follows, I will cover an extensive selection of Pritchard's
linguistic errors. For the most part, I won't deal with his place-name
interpretations; for, as wrong as they usually are, he's copying what others
(equally unfamiliar with Lenape) have written. Where he offers new
"translations" of place-names, those will be reviewed. As do all fabricators
of Lenape, Pritchard employs his own unsystematic system of orthography, in
order to throw potential critics off track.
  My remarks are in brackets. I use the Northern Unami orthography of the
Moravian missionaries when writing Lenape words, which is a modified version
of the German pronunciation of the alphabet.

  Page 7 - Lenape means "human person." [Lenape = "common man" {from len-
('common') + -ape ('man')}. Pritchard supposes that the word, lenno ('man'),
can be shortened to len-, in combining forms. It can't. He thinks lenno can
mean "human being," like the English word, "man." It can't. The Lenape word,
lenno, can only mean "man," in the sense of "male." P. says that "human
person" is how Lenape is usually translated. I don't recall ever having seen
this translation anywhere but in P.'s book.]
  Page 433, note 12 - Lenape means "we are the people of that water there"
- from len- ('human') + nape ('that water there'). [P.'s nape does not mean
"that water there" in Lenape. "That water" could be written as ne bi; but
these are two separate words. They cannot be combined and used as a suffix
on some other root or stem. What's more, the last three letters in ne bi are
pronounced differently than the final three letters in Lenape. Finally,
"human-that-water-there" is as meaningless in Lenape as it is in English.]
  Page 19 - Woch-ah-ga-po-ay means "circle" or "hoop," in Munsee. [P. culled
this word from Zeisberger's 1776 SPELLING-BOOK, where it is written as
Woakagapoae. Why P. changed Z.'s "k" to "ch" is one of the mysteries of P.'s
orthography. In any case, Z. glosses the word as "they stand in a Ring,
Circle." This is a verb, which carries quite a different sense than P.'s
interpretation of the word, as a noun. In truth, the "e," at the end of Z.'s
word, was a typographical error (for "c") that Z. corrected in his 1806
SPELLING BOOK, where the word is written as Woakagapoak. Lastly, this word
is in the Northern Unami dialect?not in "Munsee."]
  Page 20 - aneyk mettelen = "humble pathways" [Again using Z.'s first
SPELLING-BOOK, P. has found the words, aney ('road,' 'path') and metelensit
('an humble, low man'). From these he concocted the meaningless phrase
above. P. has noticed that plural forms, in Z., often end in "-k." So, he
pluralizes aney by simply tacking on a "-k" (aneyk). Sadly, aney is an
inanimate noun, while final "-k" is used only on animate plurals?and, even
then, it must be preceded by a vowel. The correct form would have been
aneyall. Z.'s metelensit is a participle meaning "one who is humble."
Comparing the Lenape word with Z.'s English gloss, P. takes the etymology to
be metelen- ('humble') + -sit ('man'). As usual, he's wrong. The stem is
metelensi- ('humble'), while the final "-t" is the 3rd person singular
ending of the Conjunct Order.]
  Page 20 - Lenape Hoking = "Dwelling-Place of the Lenape." [Lenapehoking is
a Southern Unami form, and must be written as one word. When written as two
words it is Lenapei Haking. P. hasn't a clue regarding the phonological
rules applicable to these forms. The expression means "in the land of the
Lenape," contrary to P.'s translation.]
  Page 27 - Lenape Seepu = "River of the Lenape." [The correct Northern
Unami form would be Lennapewi Sipo. Heckewelder says it was called
Lenapewihittuck, in his time (late 1700's to early 1800's).]
  Page 28 - Moo-wha-pink-us = "possum" or "he has no fur on his tail." [P.
has taken Z's muchwoapingus ('opossum'), changed the spelling to suit
himself, and supplied us with this bizarre etymology. Muchwoapingus denotes
"big white face little one." It has nothing to do with "no fur on his
  Page 30 - Susquehanna = "water crossing the great plain," in Iroquois.
[This is, of course, an Algonquian word meaning "muddy stream."]
  Page 30 - Wyoming = "water crossing the great plain," in Lenape. [Wyoming
is an anglicized form of the Lenape name, m'chwewamunk ('at the extensive
flats'). There is nothing in it suggesting "water crossing" these flats.]
  Page 53 - aaney talika = "the way of the heron." [Talleka means "crane."
"Heron" is kaachq'. P.'s form is ungrammatical, anyway.]
  Page 55 - gitschach summen = "enlightened," in Unami. [Z. lists
gischachsummen ('enlighten'). This is not a passive form. It must have an
animate subject and inanimate object.]
  Pages 78-79 - Minetta = "evil spirit" or "snake water," in Lenape. [This
place-name for a brook is probably manitto ('spirit-being'). It contains no
semantic elements denoting "evil," "snake" or "water."]
  Pages 82-83 - Chey-ee-noo-tay-sis = "shoulder bag woman." [P. has come
across chauchschisis ('an old woman'), in Z., and deduced, wrongly, that the
final syllable, -sis, means "woman." Seeing that Z. listed cheyinutey
('saddle-bag'), it only remained for P. to adapt the word to his spelling
"system," alter the meaning of cheyinutey to suit his purpose, and tack on
his erroneous "woman" suffix (-sis). In fact, the -sis ending is really a
double diminutive suffix.]
  Page 90 - schachack geeay = "straight road." [Z. has schachachki
('straight') and aney ('road'). P. dropped the first two letters of aney and
suffixed the remainder onto schachachki, then converted the result to his
own extraordinary phonetic spelling. The product is nonsense.]
  Page 93 - gunt-a-woagan = "peaceful." [There is no such word in Lenape.
"Peace" is langundowoagan. Why P. thought that eliminating the first three
letters of this word would produce a form meaning "peaceful" defeats me.]
  Page 440, note 7 - Citing Z.'s first SPELLING-BOOK, P. says Auchsu means
"in the wild," and wiki means "home" or "where you live." [This endnote is
in support of P.'s interpretation of the place-name, Wikison, which he says
means "homes in the wilderness" (pp.97-98). The only difficulty lies in the
fact that Z. (P.s source) doesn't say what P. says Z. says!
Z. lists Auchsu, with the meaning, "wild (creature) hard to deal with." It
does not mean "wilderness" or "in the wild." Z. lists wikhe ('to build a
house') and wikit ('his house'). There is no mention of P.'s wiki in Z.]
  Page 133 - Tschee-tah-nee = "strength." [Tschittani means "strong."
Tschitanissowoagan is "strength."]
  Page 144 - pee-moh and pee-mook mean "sweating" and "going to the sweat
lodge," respectively. [P.attributes these words to Z., but the first is not
found in Z., and the second is an imperative form ("Go sweat!" -
  Page 166 - k'mo'hok ki'coy = "hungry moon." [P. has found this form from
Speck & Moses, THE CELESTIAL BEAR COMES DOWN TO EARTH, page 28; but, he
didn't bother to learn Speck's phonetic alphabet. The "c" in ki'coy is
pronounced like the "sh" in English "hush." And, what P. took for a "y" is
actually the Greek letter, chi, which is pronounced like "ch" in German
  Page 193 - hutsch = second person singular, in Munsee. [The word, hatsch,
is merely a particle used to indicate that a question is being asked. It
refers to neither person nor number.]
  Page 198 - ah-ha, in the expression, Kehl-ah-ha? ("Oh, really?), means
"really." [The expression is Kehella ha? ("Indeed?"). The word, ha, is just
another question particle.]
  Page 200 - Leenkway geek = "Look at him." [P. saw the word, Linquechin
("to look at a thing"), in Z. Because Z. separated the word into syllables
(Lin que chin), P. thought the word had three semantic elements. He must
have figured they meant "Look at thing." Thereupon, he drops the last
syllable, to get "Look at." P. says geek = "him" (p.219). I suspect he
arrived at this by examining Z.'s word, Amentschimellachgik ("those who
praise him")?equating the final syllable, -gik, with the final word in Z.'s
gloss ("him"). But, Z.'s -gik is composed of the theme sign ("-g-") for a
Theme 2 Transitive Animate verb, and the animate plural peripheral ending
("-ik") used for the head of a participle. It means, "those who," not
  Page 200 - wal-un-day-yoo = "a warm day," and is probably imitative of
English "warm day." [Wulandeu means only that there is "warm weather." There
is no part of this word which means "day." A similar Lenape (not English!)
word is kschilandeu ("very hot weather").]
  Pages 200-201 - ay-yoo = "he, she or it is." [This is P.'s way of writing
(and pronouncing) the word ending spelled "-eu" by Z. P. is unaware that
Z.'s "u," in these words, is pronounced like a whispered voiceless "w." This
leads him to the incredible idea that the New York slang expression, "Ay,
you!," was derived from this Lenape word ending!]
  Page 206 - gee-tchee-toon = "one's final destination." [Z.'s gischitoon
means "it is done, finished." I can't account for P.'s eccentric first "t,"
or his interpretation.]
  Page 207 - nay-ta = "a" or "one." [Maybe, P. saw Z.'s word, netammi
("first"), and thought he could extract a cardinal number from what he saw
as an ordinal number by dropping the last three letters. You can't.]
  Pages 210-213 - "You and I Are Like Water" ("In Unami and English").
[These Pages exhibit P.'s prowess as a Lenape poet. This section is
particularly horrid. Here are the problems:]
  woch = woak ("and"). [P.'s "-ch" is inexplicable.]
  m'bi ("water") = umpee. [This is incorrect. The apostrophe is a schwa
vowel and the "b" is pronounced like "b" in English "boy."]
  coos = "pine trees." [Not in Lenape. "Pine trees" are cuwewak in Northern
  tchuppik = "rooted." [Tschuppik is a noun meaning "a root." It can't be
used as a verb, like this.]
  tekenuk = "forests." [Z.'s Tekene ("woods") is a genderless noun-like
particle which takes no plural suffix, though P. tries to put an animate
plural suffix on it.]
  achsuanl = "stones." [This should be achsinnall.]
  ni-wachtschuk = "our mountains." [The word, ni, means "I" or "my." Once
again, P. tries, ungrammatically, to put an animate suffix on an inanimate
  wachtschu ("mountain"). [This should be wachtschuwall.]
  chasquaysem = "corn." ["Corn" is chasquim. P.'s word is gibberish.]
  nihakki = "our soil." [This looks like ni hakki ("I am the earth").]
  m'bit = "water." [There is no Lenape word, "m'bit," meaning "water."]
  alinaquat = "we are like." [Elinaquot really means "as it appears" or
"what it looks like."]
  Gilunoo = "we." [Kiluna means "we (inclusive)." This spelling is
  matta'tschupik hakki = "no earthly roots." [The words used mean "no,"
"root" and "earth," respectively. P.'s translation is impossible.]
  achtschin messochwi = "we must keep running." [P. found achtschingi ("I
must") in Z., and missochwe ("to run about"), from which he created this
unintelligible phrase.]
  sheepoos = "tiny streams." [Not in Unami. Northern Unami has both
sipotittall and tanghannewall. Munsee would be schiposchall.]
  messachwe = "running downhill." [Here P. uses the same word (Z.'s
missochwe) that he said, previously, meant "keep running!" He alters the
spelling a little bit, here. There is nothing in this word which would
indicate "downhill."]
  mogowoa gitchitoon = "no one knows where we end up." [On Page 206, P. said
the second word (spelled differently there) means "one's final destination."
He was wrong there, and he's wrong here. It certainly doesn't mean "where we
end up." The first word is non-existent, in Lenape. It apparently
incorporates the syllable, woa-, from Z.'s woahan ("to know somebody"). The
first syllable "might" be an aberration of Munsee, mah ("no," "not").]
  Delli tchanindewoagan = "what's the difference." [Delli means "I, myself"
or "that I," to me. Tschanindewoagan means "difference," in the sense of
"disagreement." So, this says, "that I am a disagreement."]
  Mochwa = "Nothing" or "no." [This evidently comes from P.'s mistaken
belief that Muchwoapingus ("opossum") means "no fur on his tail." He must
take the "Muchwoa-" part to mean "no" or "nothing." It didn't mean that to
any Lenape speaker!]
  achtchin aan = "we must leave." [As we saw above, achtchin is not a real
word. Z. gives aan ("to go"), but "we go" is n'daneen (subordinative mode).]
  al = "like." [This should be eli, which means "as," not "like."]
  pimuchquayo wachtschuk pee-etchookw = "we are turned from these mountains
by changing winds." [Allowing P.'s orthographical, phonetic and grammatical
errors, here, this actually says, "it is twisted, mountains, he is blown
here by the wind."]
  mo-ma-tschil = "can't go home." [P. has combined a hitherto unknown root,
mo ("can't"), with Z.'s matschil--an imperative form meaning "Go home
(you/singular)," to produce this gem.]
  tchanind seepoo = "different rivers." [Tchanind is another of those words
P. created by truncating one of Z.'s words--in this case, Tschanindewoagan
("difference," "disagreement"). His method is preposterous. Sipo ("river" or
"creek") is singular, not plural.]
  ootchitchan = "inside." [This is a truncated version of Z.'s
Wtschitschanquiwi ("spiritual"). I leave his reasoning, on this one, to your
  kiluna linaquot = "we are the same." [These words really mean, "we it
looks like."]
  Ktehena pachat tachan = "our hearts split like wood." [These words say,
"our heart, it is split, a piece of wood." The word for "heart" is animate
in Lenape. It can't be used with the Inanimate Intransitive verb, pachat.]
gisch kschummen milach = "we cut our hair in mourning." [In truth, these
words say, "you (singular) cut a hair with a knife." There is nothing here
which conveys the meaning, "in mourning."]
  Giluna pomsi = "we walk." [Pomsi is an imperative form: "Walk
  Delli aan = "where will I go." [His words mean "that I go." Thus, we come
to the end of P.'s poem.]
  Page 219 - Weckweesgeek = "people of the birch bark," from weekwee
("birch") and geek ("him"). [P.'s weekwee must be wiquey, which meant "birch
bark" in Munsee. For geek, see my comments on his Page 200. This place-name
is often written as Weckquaesgeek, and it probably means "the end of the
  Page 226 - Laan = "peace." ["Peace" is langundowoagan. P.'s word is
  Pages 229 & 454, note 1 - Waoranecks = "they are good, peaceful people,"
from the r-dialect equivalent of Munsee woo-lay ("good," "peaceful,"
"beautiful") + neck ("those" or "they" in Munsee--according to John
O'Meara's dictionary). [O'Meara lists the word, neek, a pronoun meaning
"those" (but not "they"). This word cannot be suffixed to another word stem.
I would suggest the place-name is from Wawulach'nek ("a very fine stream" -
e.g., one without rapids) + the European pluralizer, "-s," to designate the
people living there.]
  Page 453, note 45 - Sepasco or Sepascot = "little river." [Not in any
Lenape dialect with which I'm familiar. It's schiposch in Munsee--in whose
territory this place is located.]
  Page 454, note 2 - wongkong = "place near a mountain," in Munsee. [P.
refers us to O'Meara's dictionary, again. Once again, no such form is listed
  Page 230 - quaotuk watchu = "cedar cliff" in Renneiu. [Renneiu appears to
be P.'s name for the r-dialect Munsee spoken in western Long Island, New
York. I've never seen the word, quaotuk, in Lenape. "Cedar" is shundakw in
O'Meara's dictionary. Watchu means "mountain" or "hill," not "cliff."]
  Page 455, note 9 - The ending, ayoo, means "they are." [This is the same
ending which P. wrote as ay-yoo, before. On Page 200, he said it means "he,
she or it is." It certainly doesn't mean "they are;" and, it is not
pronounced this way.]
  Page 232 - The endings, unk and kong, mean "place near a mountain." The
"k" (?in kong) means "this place." [Both unk and ong, in place-names,
represent the underlying Lenape locative ending (connective vowel + -ng),
meaning "in," "on," "at," etc. There is no suffix, -kong. There is nothing
in this suffix denoting or connoting "near a mountain" or "this."]
  Page 244 - Ponckhockie means "land where there are a lot of annoying bugs
or sand flies." [P.'s interpretation imitates Heckewelder's interpretation
of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. In fact, Ponckhockie probably means "dust
land" or "land of ashes."]
  Page 247 - pom'pey-leew = "it is a stream," in Munsee. [John O'Meara lists
pumaapuwehleew ("it flows by," "it flows along" {of water}). I suppose this
is a word P. collected from Munsee speakers in Canada, but he wasn't able to
pick up all the sounds and syllables in it.]
  Page 458, note 16 - Captain Pipe was also known as "seeker of light."
[This is a curious stretch! Pipe was called Kogieshquanoheel ("Causer of
Daylight") because he stayed awake all night, once, ardently wishing for the
dawn, impatient to engage in a battle. P. would have us believe that Pipe
was searching for enlightenment, like a desert monk!]
  Pages 248 & 458, note 17 - Shawangunk "clearly means 'the mountains where
you go south' in plain 'baby talk' Lenape"?from shawaneu ("south") + aan
("go") + gunk ("near or on the side of a mountain"). [Absolute balderdash!
This place-name means "in the smoky air," from schawank ("smoky air") + -unk
  Pages 251 & 458, note 27 - Ashokan = "where waters converge," or "outlet
of a stream," or "a strong mountainside rapids" (from Acho ("it is strong,
hard or difficult" + kan ("-ness"). [This place-name is likely Munsee,
aashookaan ("there is walking in the water"). It refers, perhaps, to a ford.
P. forgets that Z.'s "ch" is pronounced like the Greek letter, chi. The
proper abstract nominalizer is -akan, NOT -kan; but it is irrelevant to this
name, anyway.]
  Page 252 - Xwa-tchee-len-oo = "Big Eagle" or "Big Shot," depending on the
inflection. [This is Munsee, xwachi-lunuw ("big man"). I don't see how this
can be "big eagle," no matter how it is "inflected."]
  Pages 259 & 460, note 49 - aioska = "buck's horns," in Munsee?from
aiap-ayoo ("it is a buck") + osxum-mo-wall ("horns"). [P. refers the reader
to O'Meara's dictionary for these words, none of which are to be found
there! Ajapeu ("a buck") and Oschummowall ("horns") are found in
Zeisberger's first SPELLING-BOOK. These words cannot be chopped up and
mashed together to form aioska. As seen already, the "u" in ajapeu is
pronounced as a whispered voiceless "w"?not as "yoo." In addition, the "sch"
in oschummowall is the "sh" in English "hush;" not "s" + Greek chi! Finally,
oschummowall ("horns") is Unami?not Munsee.]
  Pages 460-461, note 2 - Tappan is possibly a word of Central American
origin--like the Tepanecs of Mexico. [No comment!!!]
  Page 464, note 25 - Aptun = "he speaks," in Mohican. [Not quite. "He
speaks" is aptonau ("u" = voiceless "w").]
  Page 301 - The personal name, Kaelcop, "is distinctly South American in
flavor." [Kaelcop is a Dutch nickname. It means "bald-head."]
  Page 345 - Minisink = "Place of the Munsees" or "Island of the Munsees."
[This place-name pre-dates the name, Munsee, by more than a century. It
probably means simply "at the island."]
  Page 352 - Kittanning ("Place on the Great River") and Kittatinny have
similar meanings. [No. Kittatinny means "big mountain."]
  Page 376 - Wojak means "woodchuck," in Lenape. ["Woodchuck" is monachgeu,
in Lenape?not wojak.]
  Page 377 - Ponksad means "sand flies." [In Northern Unami, "sand flies" is
ponksak. There isn't any "d" in it.]
  [Pages 385-390 contain the Munsee vocabulary P. collected in Ontario. It's
riddled with so many errors, I'm not going to cover all of them, here; but,
here are some examples:]
  wess = "animal." [This might be      "awessis," misunderstood.]
  kwal-wess = "fox." [O'Meara gives xwaaluwees.]
  kwal = "big tail." [The previous word, for "fox," denotes "big tail."
Kwal has no meaning.]
  sheek-weao = "ducks." [wshihweewak is "ducks," in Munsee.]
  shee-weh-wuk = "geese." [This is actually P.'s attempt to write the plural
for "ducks." "Geese" would be waapsuwihleewak.]
  esh-ko(n)-mai = "tail." [This is P.'s attempt to write wshukwunay
  wheep = "bow" ("hunting bow"). [This word means "an arrow" or "his arrow."
"Bow" is mataht, in Munsee.]


  Besides linguistics, Professor Pritchard expounds on the archaeology,
prehistory, history, religion and culture of the Lenape and other New York
Algonquians in his book; and, his exposition of those subjects equals, in
every respect, his efforts with the Lenape language.
  I would not have spent so much time on this particular work, if it wasn't
for the fact that Pritchard is touting this work as a text for students in
the New York public school system; and, because he has received a certain
amount of academic and Indian imprimaturs for this book. The widespread
dissemination and acceptance of this silly nonsense will be difficult to
stop once it's on the library shelves.
  Pritchard is now threatening publication of a "Lenape Phrase Book" (see
below). And, he's planning works on Shinnecock and other Algonquian
languages, as well. Heaven help us!

Raymond Whritenour


Evan T. Pritchard, Resonance Communications, Woodstock, NY, 2003.

  Like archaeology, the study of an area's indigenous language provides us
with a window into prehistory. For New Jersey, there is only one such
language?the one we call Lenape, or Delaware. It is the language that was
spoken, right here, for millennia. Unlike some of the Eastern Algonquian
languages, which survive only in small, fragmentary vocabularies, Lenape has
been extensively recorded, in three major dialects. By its survival, our
State has been endowed with a rich cultural treasure. Because of this, it
pains me to see this beautiful ancient tongue distorted and twisted into an
almost unrecognizable gibberish, in the hands of Evan T. Pritchard,
Professor of Native American History and Culture, Marist College,
Poughkeepsie, New York, who has now foisted upon us his latest creation:
Communications, Woodstock, NY, 2003.

  I call this a "non-review," because I am not going to dignify this work
with a full critique. I would just like readers to be forewarned. This book
contains many hundreds of words, supposedly Lenape, 90% of which are
assigned the wrong pronunciation. Out of some 360 words he culled from John
quick scan, 60 which were translated incorrectly by Pritchard?even though he
only had to copy the correct meanings from O'Meara's work! Finally, the
author lists 40 Unami "root words," NONE of which actually exist! He simply
made them up!

  Pritchard's book, NATIVE NEW YORKERS, is the worst book ever written about
the Lenape Indians; and now he has given us the worst book ever written
about the Lenape language. Please don't waste your money on this trash
(unless you want a good laugh?or cry).

Raymond Whritenour

>From   Raymond Whritenour <n976 at WEBTV.NET>
Sent  Friday, November 19, 2004 11:51 pm To  NYHIST-L at listserv.nysed.gov

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