'snake' and 'god' terms.

Rankin, Robert L rankin at ku.edu
Sun Aug 13 16:59:22 UTC 2006

Sorry, my slip.  The final vowel of the Proto-Siouan reconstruction for 'medicine' should be nasal.  Everything is the same as far as we know between the two except for nasality and probably length on the 1st syllable vowel.  We have not found viable cognates in Crow, Hidatsa or Mandan for these lexemes, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.  The state of lexicography for Mandan and Hidatsa especially still leaves a lot to be desired.  Nasality would be lost in CR and HI so [w] and [m] would collapse together.  Velar stops should remain, as should vowel length.  Contributions from these languages would be most welcome.


From: owner-siouan at lists.colorado.edu on behalf of Alan Knutson
Sent: Sat 8/12/2006 5:32 PM
To: siouan at lists.colorado.edu
Subject: RE: 'snake' and 'god' terms.

I am curious as to why a final nasalized vowel is not reconstructed in the 'medicine' set but is in the 'sacred' set, and also if there are any cognates in  Crow-Hidatsa or Mandan.
Alan K

	-----Original Message-----
	From: Rankin, Robert L [mailto:owner-siouan at lists.colorado.edu] On Behalf Of Rankin, Robert L
	Sent: Saturday, August 12, 2006 3:18 PM
	To: siouan at lists.colorado.edu
	Cc: Rankin, Robert L
	Subject: RE: 'snake' and 'god' terms.
	The similar words for 'god' and 'snake' are apparently not a coincidence, since in Sac-Fox (I think) Shawnee and Kickapoo the same two terms are also closely related according to Paul Voorhis and Dave Costa, with whom I corresponded about this a long time ago.  The Algonquian words are completely different from Siouan /wakhaN/, of course, but 'snake' and 'manitou' are related in at least those Algonquian languages.  So somehow there was evidently a connection seen between snakes and deities at one time.  The connection may have been via the Siouan cognate set for 'medicine'.   I believe I posted the follow note sometime back.  It was in my computer files written in "net Siouan", so it's probably in the list archive.  I can't seem to get the file to format properly into columns, but the sets should be obvious.

	The recent discussion of the lexical class of Dakota 'wakhaN' brought to mind a historical comment I recently made in a paper that Giulia Oliverio and I are publishing. It is possible that the nominal status of 'medicine' has affected the status of 'sacred, mysterious', ordinarily a stative verb. 

	Is it also possible that the root of 'sacred' was just -hkaN and that the wa- nominalized it? Here, in any event are the two cognate sets. 

	                          'medicine'                 'sacred'

	*PSI:                 *wáN:hkaN                *wahkáN

	Dakotan:               makhaN                 wakháN 'spirit, sacred'

	Chiwere:              máNkhaN               wakháN 'snake' 

	Winneb:               maN:káN                wakáN 'snake'

	Omaha:               maNkkáN                wakkáNda 'sacred, god' 

	Omaha                maNkkáN               wakkáNdagi 'water monster'

	Kansa:                 mokkáN                 wakkáNda 'holy, god' 

	Osage:                 maNhkáN              wahkáNta 'holy, god' 

	Quapaw:              makkáN                 wakkáNtta 'spirit, god'

	*OVS:               *muNka 'snake' 

	Biloxi:                      n-dé:si 'snake' 

	Ofo                        oNktéfi 'snake' 

	Saponi                 "moka" 'snake' 

	In 'medicine' and 'sacred' we have two semantically similar, but derivationally unrelated, roots which, quite by chance, differ only in nasalization and accent placement. Their superficial similarities appear to have led to a certain amount of mixing. The 'medicine' column is where this Ohio Valley Siouan set properly belongs phonologically, but it has undergone the semantic specialization, acquiring the meaning 'snake', that is typical of the 'sacred' set in particular geographical areas. 

	'Sacred' underwent an exactly parallel change in Winnebago, Chiwere and Omaha. Here it should be noted that the concepts 'God, sacred' and 'snake' were related in much of the prehistoric eastern and central U.S. Nevertheless, there is identical semantic specialization in all three OVS languages. 

	Paul Voorhis provided comments on the areal nature of this phenomenon. Voorhis points to similar parallel conflation of 'snake' and 'deity' in Kickapoo. Shawnee maneto is similarly 'snake' (David Costa, personal communication).

	Here, as usual, Biloxi and Ofo lose initial labial resonants, while Virginia Siouan keeps them. The -(k)desi portion of the Biloxi and Ofo cognates means 'striped' or 'spotted' and has good cognates throughout Siouan. 



	From: owner-siouan at lists.colorado.edu on behalf of goodtracks at peoplepc.com
	Sent: Fri 8/11/2006 9:19 PM
	To: Earl Fenner
	Cc: siouan at lists.colorado.ed

	I believe I can explain it out for IOM in regard to the word for "God"/ "Thunders" (in an older traditional application) and the word "snake."  There was a Snake Clan, long extinct, which still exists among the Ponca and Winnebago.  How would you render an explaination to someone who noted the similarity?
	[NOTE:  Wakánda = God.  (It may noted the coincidental similarity of the word - Wakánda - and the word Wakán (snake).  The root of both words is "kán-" (holy; sacred; consecrated).  This does not infer to some kind of reptile divinity.  To the contrary, the term Wakánda is most likely related to the Lakota term, "wakan: holy, mysterious" both sharing the same root of origin].  

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