Osage 'eight'

Rankin, Robert L rankin at ku.edu
Wed Aug 23 15:17:37 UTC 2006

In the early historical period the Caddoan-speaking tribes tended to occupy the north-south band of territory in the central plains immediately to the west of the Siouan-speaking tribes.  While distribution of the term suggests borrowing before a definitive Kansa/Osage split, this can't be guaranteed and the term could have been borrowed or adapted twice.  If the folk-analysis of /kki(y)ado:ba/ turned out to be accurate, i.e., if 'eight' was somehow "remodeled" on the basis of finger counting on two hands, then maybe the Wichita term was nothing more than a stimulus, if even that.  I find it very suspicious that the Wichita and KS/OS terms are so similar, but beyond that it's just very hard to say.


From: owner-siouan at lists.colorado.edu on behalf of David Costa
Sent: Tue 8/22/2006 4:00 PM
To: siouan at lists.colorado.edu
Subject: Re: Osage 'eight'

What's the best guess as to where this Wichita -> Osage/Kaw borrowing would
have taken place? Were they adjacent in the early contact period?

Dave C

> Well, that doesn't mean I understand it.  :-)   I suspect what happened is
> that, when the word was borrowed, the /tawha/ was (re)interpreted as Siouan
> *to:pa 'four' (Lord knows how speakers of OS and KS would have adapted [wh]
> into their speech).  Then the remaining [kkidha] HAD to be interpreted as
> having some meaning that would turn 4 into 8.  So semantic change in the sense
> of some sort of steady progression probably wasn't involved.  Just a gestalt
> replacement.  I think OS and KS have some words that sound like [kiya] that
> facilitated this interpretation.  Dorsey interprets the parts as meaning
> "again four", and he lists KS /kkiya/ as meaning 'separate, apart'.  You can
> see how, especially if you're using finger counting in sign language, "four
> separate" or "four apart" might be construed as totaling eight (i.e., perhaps
> four on each hand).  But the truth is hard to know. 

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