Donald M. Lance LanceDM at MISSOURI.EDU
Sat Mar 17 04:40:22 UTC 2001

I thank Professor McCafferty for the close reading of my article on 'Missouri'.  As he
rightly points out, I am not a specialist in American Indian linguistics and would never
claim to be.  Consequently, most of my article was admittedly derivative.  I wish I had
known about Professor McCafferty when I was writing the article.


Michael Mccafferty wrote:

> I am an Algonquian linguist and a devotee of all things onomastic. I just
> completed a comprehensive study for the Indiana Historical Society on
> American Indian place names in Indiana. In Algonquian, my specialty is the
> Miami-Illinois language, although the nature of Algonquian studies
> necessitates a knowledge of the range of the various languages in the
> family. In perusing a recent copy of "Algonquian and Iroquoian
> Linguistics" I came upon an announcement concerning Donald M. Lance's
> article on the place name "Missouri" that appeared in "Names" 47.3,
> September 1999 (281-290). I located his article and upon reading it was
> struck by two things: the excellent historical footwork that Lance did and
> the less than adequatelinguistics.
> Please find below my comments on Lance's article. Please bear in mind that
> my critique does not intend to detract from the author's fine work. All in
> all, this is a fairly sound piece of scholarship.
> ========================================================================
> Commentary on Donald M. Lance, "The Origin and Meaning of 'Missouri'"
> Page 282:  -ite is indeed a Latin (read French) suffix. the -s is also a
> French suffix.
> Page 282-283: Lance should have mentioned what the 8 (Ou-) at the
> beginning of some of the historical recorded forms meant. This was
> Marquette's way of writing the Algonquian ethnonymic prefix (As the author
> notes, Marquette actually wrote <8e->, the <-e> just being a nice little
> French lexical vowel thrown into the soup). The appearance of this prefix
> serves to distinguish the ethnonym from the common noun.
> Page 282: Marquette and Co. didn't have any Illinois guides as stated by
> Lance, although, since the only Indians they mete in their entire
> MIssissippi voyage of discovery with whom they could communicate orally
> spoke Miami-Illinois, the expedition probably picked up the formative
> elements of <8emissourit> among the Peoria whom they met on the Des Moines
> River.
> Page 284: The term "Missouri" is from the Illinois language and signifies
> 'big watercraft': /mihsoori/ < /mihs-/ 'big', /-oor-/ 'boat', and /-i/
> inanimate noun suffix marker.
> Furthermore, Marquette's <Pekitanoui>, while translated to 'muddy water'
> is actally an Illinois changed independent third-person inanimate
> intransitive verb meaning 'it mud-flows' :  /peekihtanwi/ 'it-mud-flows' <
> /pi:k-/ 'mud', /-ihtan-/ 'flow, and /-wi/, the appropriate verbal suffix.
> (Phonemic /-ee-/ is approximately the vowel sound in English 'pale', not
> that in English 'peek'.)
> "Pecatonica", the Sauk form of this place name cited by Lance, is an
> amalgam of Algonquian and Latin. His Fox form is also corrupted.
> P. 285: William Wallace Tooker's data cited by Lance is incorrect. There
> are no forms for 'canoe' in Illinois that begin with we-. This
> interpretation by Tooker probably came from his misunderstanding of the
> French glyph 8.
> In the next paragraph, Lance, citing Vogel, discusses how the initial
> element "Miss-" in "Missouri" and "Mississippi" does not mean the same
> thing. This is not true. In fact, they are absolutely identical in both
> meaning and form.  Both are Miami-Illinois /mihs-/ 'big'. The second term
> is /mihsisiipi/  <  /mihs-/ 'big', /-i-/ connective vowel, /siipi/
> 'river'.  Illinois  "Missouri" and "Mississippi" are as transparent as
> English "Big Boat" and "Big River".
> If serious scholars without linguistic training in Algonquian find
> themselves involved in place name work that involves Algonquian,
> especially in the midcontinent,  please don't hesitate to contact me. I
> will be more than happy to advise.
> Best regards,
> Michael McCafferty
> 307 Memorial Hall
> Indiana University
> Bloomington, Indiana
> 47405
> mmccaffe at indiana.edu

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