two, three, seven, eight

Rory M Larson rlarson at
Tue Nov 9 14:44:54 UTC 2004

David wrote:
> In looking through my Biloxi dictionary, I've noticed the same words seem
to be used for 'two' and 'seven', and for 'three' and 'eight'!  For the
first pair it's noNpa; for the second it's dani.  Dorsey makes an allusion
in the dictionary that seven is "two bones on the other hand" and eight is
"three bones on the other hand."  I'm compiling a comparative wordlist of
the Siouan languages I currently have info on (e.g., Hiraca, Dakota, Hocak,
Biloxi, Ofo) and this doesn't seem to occur in these other languages.  Is
Biloxi a rarity in this, or are there examples from other Siouan languages
that I don't have info on, or even from Muskogean?

I think this was actually discussed on the list, perhaps about
six months to a year ago.  This system certainly occurs in
Dhegiha, e.g. OP

    naNba      - 'two'        ppe'dhaNba     - 'seven'

    dha'bdhiN  - 'three'      ppedhabdhiN    - 'eight'

I don't think anyone knows what the ppe- element is, but it
presumably refers somehow to the first five.

> Another question relates to another possible case of borrowing between
Cherokee, Biloxi, and Ofo (or southeastern in general, as in the case of
'buffalo'): I'm not sure what "big" is in the other Siouan languages
(except I believe it's ixtia in Hiraca), but in Biloxi it's taN and Ofo
ithoN.  This looks suspiciously similar to Cherokee utana.  I'm wondering
if any of the Muskogeanists could enlighten me on "big" in Muskogean
languages.   Anyone have any ideas about this?

In proto-MVS, I believe 'big' is *htaN'ka.  In Dakotan it is
thaN'ka, and in OP it is ttaN'ga.  The final -*ka is probably
an enclitic, so the original root for 'big' ought to be *htaN,
which would match the Biloxi, and I suppose possibly the
Cherokee.  But this word is surely old in Siouan-- probably
at least 2000 years-- so if the Cherokee form is not just a
coincidence, then the borrowing must have gone from Siouan to
Cherokee, or else happened a very long time ago.

By the way, how is that Ofo version to be pronounced?  Is that
an aspirated 't' or an edh in /ithoN/ ?


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