Anthony Grant Granta at edgehill.ac.uk
Thu Aug 24 16:19:52 UTC 2006

Rory et al:

The book is: Wa fa fe wa gry sy Laekens wa kaxa peo, where <f> is
sh/zh.  Publisghed 1837 in Stockbridge, KS by the Shawanoe Mission Press
set up by Rev. Jotham Meeker, this book was put together by Johnston

I got a lot of help for this (which is discussed in an article in the
memorial volume for Frank Siebert) from people who are on this list, so
to Jimm, Bob R, John K, Carolyn, and Dave C, once more: wibdhahaN, and
indeed p'ilamayaN.


>>> Rory M Larson <rlarson at unlnotes.unl.edu> 08/24/06 4:38 pm >>>

> For what it's worth, the only Osage form for 'book' that I've seen
reconstructs as something like /wagrese/ or /wagresa/, with the
labial-vocalic CV completely missing.  I don't know if it's relevant
as very earlky Osage publication spells 'book' in a Roman-based
orthography as <wagrysy> and I think Montgomery and Requa c. 1834 uses

Thanks, Anthony!  That makes sense.  La Flesche 1932 has the same
It's very nice to see that it is attested at such an early date!  Can
tell us anything about the historical context of these sources, and
date of that "very early Osage publication"?  That would be very

I think we could probably reconstruct the 'book' sequence as follows:

Dhegihan *gre'ze/gre'se, 'striped'

19th century Osage wagre'se, 'striped thing', 'book'

19th century Omaha waba'greze, 'thing striped by pushing/writing',
with writing', 'book'

20th century Omaha wabra'gase, 'book' (after metathesis)
20th century Omaha wagra'base, 'book' (after metathesis)

Dorsey and Fletcher & La Flesche both have the waba'greze term.  The
Stabler-Swetland dictionary (1970s) has both the the wabra'gase and
wagra'base terms for both 'book' and 'paper'.  It also includes about
compounds that use waba'greze, though these may be coming from Fletcher
La Flesche.  I believe our elder speaker today has come down firmly in
favor of wagra'base, at least for 'book'.

Dorsey records a different term for 'book' from Ponka: waba'g^u.  This
would mean 'a thing written', based on bag^u', 'to write'.

It looks like the Omaha term may be based on the Osage term, but
at a time when the word was more descriptive than nominal.  Ponka took
different route, but used the same term for 'write' as the Omaha.  La
Flesche (1932) does not seem to record a word for 'write' from Osage. 
Dakota forms for 'write' (Williamson) are entirely different.

The term must have come into Omaha at least by their Bellevue period
(~1845-1855), when they were living next to a major wagon train
and their children were being educated by missionaries.  Perhaps it
came in
earlier, even as early as the late 18th century, as a reference to
ledger books.  It would be interesting to know the Iowa-Oto term(s), as
latter share with the Omaha a lot of acculturation terms that probably
in during the Bellevue period.  The Kaw term would also be nice to

In any case, this word supports what we seemed to find with
that the brVgV/grVbV alternation is a phenomenon of early 20th century
Omaha, and is presumably irrelevant to other Siouan languages.

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