Siouan 'bird'

R. Rankin rankin at
Sun Nov 21 16:42:58 UTC 2004

> I am trying to resolve whether the Taneks (Biloxi) and Ofo words for 'bird',
kudeska and teska, respectively, are cognate with other Siouan words for the
same.  Just from what I have so far, it looks like the Biloxi (B) and Ofo (O)
words are definitely cognate, but I'm not so sure they're cognate with Hiraca
and Hocak.  Also, the B and O words appear possibly cognate with Cherokee

The B&O forms are isolated within Siouan and could stem from eariler Proto-B&O
*reska or maybe *teska.  You also want to include the Ofo term /tefka/ (the
expected outcome of *reska) in your calculations.  Biloxi and Ofo /s/ shouldn't
actually correspond (in Ofo *s > f generally).  That alone should make you
suspicious of these forms and suggest that you're dealing with a borrowing.
This tends to be confirmed by the Ofo doublets.

The forms also mean 'flea' (or other insectoid vermin), so, from a semantic
point of view, they may be following the usage found in Dakotan, where small
birds are referred to as "tree fleas".  But the Dakotan terms are transparent
compounds and not at all cognate with B&O -- just the metaphor is common.

The final evidence for the status of the Biloxi and Ofo bird terms comes from
(a) the Cherokee term, which you've already discovered, and (b) the Koasati term
/tiskahomma/ 'cardinal, redbird', where /homma/ is pan-Muskogean for 'red'.
That leaves Koasati /tiska/, Cherokee /tsiskwa/, Biloxi /deska ~ teska/ and Ofo
/teska ~ tefka/ representing a Southeastern diffused term.

I don't know that we had noticed the Cherokee term before, so congratulations on
finding a new item that tends to confirm the areal nature of this term.


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