Rory M Larson rlarson at unlnotes.unl.edu
Mon Aug 28 20:07:57 UTC 2006

Thanks, Dave!

>>  If I'm understanding correctly, it seems to be agreed that the
>> word for 'squash' reconstructs phonologically throughout (eastern?)
> No, just plain 'Algonquian'. It's found throughout the family, from
> to Cree to Arapaho to Shawnee to Delaware and almost all points in
> The only decently-documented part of Algonquian where it's NOT found are
> Southern New England languages (the languages of Massachusetts, Rhode
> and Connecticut), which are a lexically innovative group in general.

Cheyenne and Blackfoot too?

> Also keep in mind that it means 'spoon' -- not 'squash' -- in every
> Algonquian language except Miami.

Wait, are we talking about squashes at all?  Does this word not also mean
'squash' in many or most Algonquian languages?  Or is the 'squash' meaning
found only in Miami?

> > Either of these models suggests that proto-Siouan is earlier than
>> proto-Algonquian,
> You lost me here. Why would your first model suggest that?

I'm sorry, I knew I was being a little sloppy when I phrased it that way.
My point was that Siouan definitely needs to be differentiated into
distinct daughter languages at the time the term spreads in Siouan, else
the term would reconstruct cleanly in Siouan.  That restriction would not
be on Algonquian, since the term does reconstruct there.  Hence, we could
imagine the term spreading from (unitary) proto-Algonquian to several
different Siouan languages, which would imply that proto-Siouan was older.

Of course, it would also be possible for the term to be present universally
in Algonquian long before it ever spread to Siouan.  In this model (say,
Model 1b), proto-Algonquian could be as old or older than proto-Siouan.
This picture is a little awkward for me though, because it seems to imply
that Algonquians were engaged in an important bit of technology (either
spoons or squashes) for a long period of time before other Indians became
sufficiently aware of that technology to need a word for it.

Model 1b is certainly possible, but it raises interesting questions about
the historical distribution and modes of social and economic interaction of
all parties concerned.  Model 2 (non-Algonquian source) and Model 1a
(proto-Algonquian to Siouan daughter languages) allow the term to spread as
an international term as soon as any group makes the technological
innovation and coins the word, which seems more obvious to me with regard
to the mechanics of an innovation spreading.

You make the argument that, since the term reconstructs in proto-Algonquian
but not in proto-Siouan, the term must be old in Algonquian but recent in
Siouan.  This is true, but 'old' and 'recent' are relative until we can pin
down just how old these respective groups are.  Thus, if Algonquian is 2000
years old and Siouan is 3000 years old, and if squashes or spoons came into
fashion in the first millennium AD, then the international word for them
might have spread through Algonquian in a form that could be reconstructed
to proto-Algonquian, while the various Siouan languages that adopted it
might have been sufficiently distinct by that time that their respective
adoptions would clearly clash.  In this version, 'old' in Algonquian and
'recent' in Siouan might be contemporary in absolute time.

That being said, I have to agree that Bob's reply to your query:

> > BTW, Bob, what is the geographic distribution of this word in Siouan?
> > over, or only in the Mississippi Valley languages, or what?
> Northern part of Mississippi Valley only:  Dakotan (wagmu, wamna,
dialectally) and Chiwere-Winnebago only.  Dhegiha is different.  > Note
that, even within Dakotan, the vowels don't match.

pretty well makes the case for Model 1b here.  I had the mistaken
impression that the terms under discussion were widespread in Siouan, and
that they were consistent within each daughter group.  I'm certainly not
going to suggest now that proto-Algonquian is more recent than

I'm still a little puzzled over the background picture, though.  Did the
term originally mean 'spoon' in Algonquian, and then get extended to
'squash' in Miami, passing then to Dakotan and Chiwere-Winnebago?  Or was
it originally 'squash', and shifted to 'spoon' only in all the northern
Algonquian groups that presumably did not grow squashes?  Did Dakotans and
Chiwere-Winnebagos learn squash cultivation from their Algonquian
neighbors?  Or did they originally have some other word, which was
replaced, say, by the word used by Algonquian wives who came into their

> Well, in this regard, within proto-Algonquian, this word is totally
reconstructible but cannot be segmented. The root is unrecognizable. That
might speak to it being a loan into Algonquian EXTREMELY long ago. Or
perhaps it simply shows an old root that dropped out of use everywhere
except this noun.

So there is nothing preventing it from being a loan into proto-Algonquian,
whenever that was.  That's an important piece to know.

That was a good discussion, Dave.  Thanks for the information!

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/siouan/attachments/20060828/300a481e/attachment.html>

More information about the Siouan mailing list