Rory M Larson rlarson at unlnotes.unl.edu
Tue Aug 29 04:18:31 UTC 2006

> > I think we want to be a little careful about reconstructing semantics
> > silverware.  (a) the older meaning is 'gourd' -- squashes come later in
> > archaeological record.  Gourds are used for dippers virtually

> Perhaps -- but it raises the vexing issue of why every known Algonquian
> language but one -- upwards of twenty languages that I could name -- all
> made the same semantic shift.  I have no problem thinking that this word
> already meant 'spoon, especially made of a gourd' by the Proto-Algonquian
> level.

That shouldn't be a problem if the shift takes place about the time of the
divergence of Proto-Algonquian.  The original meaning would have been
'gourd', but probably had the extended meaning of 'spoon' as well within
the proto-language.  Then the Algonquian people spread widely, allowing for
dialects, but with a lot of residual flux and intercommunication.  In the
"koine" form of the language, the term became restricted to 'spoon', but in
some marginal pockets, dialects retained the conservative meaning of
'gourd'.  Miami and Menominee would have developed from such backwater
dialects, while most other languages would have patterned their usage on
that of the koine.

And of course, if gourd use goes back much farther than squash cultivation,
that removes the worry about having to time this event as recently as the
mid first millennium AD.

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