Nice and big in Northern Iroquoian

Michael Mccafferty mmccaffe at
Wed Nov 10 21:01:30 UTC 2004

What I mean, Wally, is that the hydronym probably dates to the time when
-iyo- meant 'big' in Iroquoian, cross-family cognate with say
Miami-Illinois /mihsisiipiiwi/.

On Wed, 10 Nov 2004, Wallace Chafe wrote:

> Michael,
> You probably know that Ohio comes from a Seneca word, Ohi:yo?, which is
> currently the name of both a river and the Allegany Reservation. The river
> includes what we call the Allegany (Allegheny in PA) and its continuation
> as the Ohio. The name has the -iyo- verb root preceded by a noun root
> meaning "river", which shows up here as simply h. I'm not sure what you
> mean by the name being probably quite ancient; I don't know how to tell how
> long the Senecas have been using it. To them today it certainly means
> something like "good river" (maybe in the sense of how it looks, belle
> riviere), not "big river".
> Wally
> > 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.

More information about the Siouan mailing list