Siouan and Iroquoian "buffalo"

Wallace Chafe chafe at
Tue Nov 9 20:57:34 UTC 2004


There are two Northern Iroquoian verb roots meaning "big". The most
widespread one is -owaneN- (nasalized e) or something similar, which I
believe shows up in all the languages. It refers not only to size but also
to importance. Seneca has a second one, -steN-, that refers only to the
size of physical objects and occurs only with incorporated noun roots. It
may be limited to Seneca. It would be nice if the Cherokee t were a w, but
I guess it isn't.


> I have another Iroquoian question: what are Seneca or Mohawk words for
> "big"?  I ask because I notice Cherokee utana seems strikingly similar to
> Siouan taN or ithoN, and I'm wondering if Cherokee could have borrowed it
> from Siouan at some point.  There doesn't seem to be any Muskogean
> influence here, since those words are quite different; my guess is that
> Cherokee utana is just coincidentally similar, but wanted to know what
> the other Iroquoian languages have to say....

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