Noun Stem Tangent (Re: 'snake' and 'god' terms.)

Koontz John E John.Koontz at
Sun Aug 27 01:59:06 UTC 2006

On Thu, 24 Aug 2006, David Kaufman wrote:
> Wow, interesting!  The Biloxi words for 'root' are apparently tudi and
> udi (not sure if there's some semantic difference between the two),
> which I suppose could also possibly incorporate that -ti- root (although
> I'm not sure why t would change to d).

Me either, which is why I feel pretty confident in suggesting this:

I tend to suspect that these forms involve -(d)i in which -(d)i is the
stem-forming vowel, and -d- is *-r- epenthetically inserted between it and
tu- or u-.  The gloss here for udi is 'stalk or trunk of a plant' and it
is cognate with PS *hu 'stem, stalk, long bone', cf. OP hi 'stem, stalk',
wahi 'bone'.  So, the form is probably u-d-i < *hu-r-e.

I'm sorry I'm such a Johnny-One-Note on this -(d)i thing (cf. also the
Dakotan cognate -(y)A in 'slope of a hill' and 'Cheyenne' earlier today).
It's actually the Richard-One-Note thing, since the idea, at least in
regard to Biloxi is Dick Carter's.

Languages like Biloxi or Mandan where this final vowel formant sticks
around after vowel-final stems and conditions an epenthetic glide are very
helpful, since there is strong tendency in Siouan for this formant to be
lost after vowel-final stems.

The formant does remain widely after consonant final stems, producing the
famous intricacies of Dakotan s^uNka ~ -s^uNke ~ s^unk or siNte' ~ siNl
and the sometimes nightmarish complexities in reconstructing the final
vowel of CVC(V) a stems.

And then there are the languages - well, just Winnebago - where the
glide-vowel becomes a morpheme in its own right.  I think this explains
Winnebago =ra 'the' and perhaps also a more obscure =re that I don't fully
understand.  I think it might mark object nominalizations or object
relativizations, but I'm not sure.  Or maybe it's a ghost.  But I'm pretty
sure about =ra < *-r-a.

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