Nice and big in Northern Iroquoian

Michael Mccafferty mmccaffe at
Wed Nov 10 18:28:41 UTC 2004

On Wed, 10 Nov 2004, Wallace Chafe wrote:

> Michael,
> -iyo- is interesting. It doesn't mean "big" in either Seneca or Mohawk,
> which Dave originally asked about, but rather something more like "good" or
> "nice", in various senses including nice-looking, well-behaved, etc. In
> Tuscarora, though, it means "big, great, beautiful", referring at least to
> some positive quality. Marianne suspects that the Proto-Northern-Iroquoian
> meaning might have been "big", and that the Tuscaroras extended it to
> "beautiful" through contact with the languages in the north, which had
> already replaced "big" with "good".


It seems that Marianne is onto something here. In fact, the hydronym
"Ohio," which is probably quite ancient, would seem to embody the PNI
sense of |-iyo-|, although the French translation "belle riviere"
certainly reflects the modern Seneca/Mohawk "nice" meaning.



 That's certainly possible. These are
> all verb roots, by the way.
> Wally
> > Wally,
> > Isn't there also |-iyo-|? Or is that called a "verb root"?
> > thanks,
> > Michael

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