Siouan and Muskogean "flat"

David Kaufman dvklinguist2003 at
Wed Mar 8 22:37:37 UTC 2006

Hi everyone:
  This started out as a private discussion, but I'm taking John K's advice and putting it out here on the list in case anyone has any ideas about this, particularly the Muskogean since that seems to be most enigmatic.  Anyone know about these forms in the eastern Muskogean languages?
  Dave Kaufman wrote:
  > I'm wondering about the Biloxi word ptasi meaning 'flat.' The Ofo 
> padafi is obviously almost identical.  It seems the Dakota form is
> mdaska.  What I'm curious about is the Chickasaw word is patasa, and 
> Alabama word was something quite similar to the Chickasaw, so are the
> Biloxi and Ofo words Muskogean in origin or are they Siouan?  They 
> rather similar to either.  Or, could Muskogean have borrowed the 
> word?

John Koontz wrote:
  > The Siouan forms are a set in MVS, cf.  Te blaska, OP bdhaska, IO 
brahge, WI paras.  These suggest *pras (or perhaps *wras, depending on one's
approach), usually extended by the formant *-ka.  As you've noticed, 
the unextended form suggestive of *pras-e is found in Sourtheastern.  This 
is one of the forms that regularly participates in sound symbolism. >

> On the other hand, I don't know anything about the prevalence of the 
form in Muskogean.  You might want to ask on the list if anyone knows of
lookalikes in other families. >

> In fact, though I'm hard pressed to understand this as a phonaestheme, 
it does resemble IE forms like English flat, Latin planum, Greek Platon
'Plato', a nickname, lit. 'the broad one', P. having been a wrestler in
his youth.  I don't have a reference that allows looking up PIE sets. >

Bob Rankin wrote:
  > It's pretty clearly reconstructible in Siouan as something like 
*w-ras-.  The w- was probably *wa- and the -ka is a common derivational suffix 
found with stative verbs.  So it's the Muskogean that is unexplained.  
John's right about the similarity to European terms too.  I don't know 
what to make of that.  >

> Interestingly, the Western Muskogean terms participate in a kind of 
"fricative symbolism".  In addition to patassa, you also have patafa (at 
least in Choctaw).  (As in Faulkner's fictional "Yokna patapha County", 
which obviously means 'flatlands' -- Choctaw /yakna/ 'land'.) >

 Yahoo! Mail
 Use Photomail to share photos without annoying attachments.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Siouan mailing list