Native American Corner

The place to discuss extinct languages.

Native American Corner

Postby Yaziq » Fri 07 May 2010 8:54 pm

With participation this could be a locus for discussion of topics relating to Native American culture and linguistic history. Topics could include the classification of Native American languages both living and extinct, Trail of Tears, Ghost Dance, skinwalkers, or other topics that come to mind. I'm not aware of all the details of how these languages are classified, but I know that the Algonquin family is one of the major branches. Is the Mohawk language part of the Algonquin family? I'm not sure. Maybe Mohawk is Athabascan. I'm fairly sure that Cherokee is not in the Algonquin family. Apache may be part of the Uto-Aztec family. Speak up if you know the answer to this. I'm interested in the Croatan tribe and Melungeon people. I think that they are somehow related through intermarriage. Could the Melungeons be of Turkish origin? Some of them think they are. What say you?
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Re: Native American Corner

Postby linguoboy » Fri 07 May 2010 9:10 pm

Why is this in "Extinct Languages"? There are more than six hundred indigenous American languages still in use, the largest of them with hundreds of thousands or even (in the case of Quechua, Aymara, and Guaraní) millions of speakers.

As for your questions about the linguistic affiliations of various tongues, these can all be easily answered with a single trip to Wikipedia.
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Re: Native American Corner

Postby Yaziq » Fri 07 May 2010 9:35 pm

Among extinct Native American languages would be the language spoken by Ishi of the Yana tribe near Oroville, CA. He was the last surviving member of his tribe. Wikipedia does not supply the depth that a native speaker would. I would hope to hear from some of them.
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Re: Native American Corner

Postby linguoboy » Fri 07 May 2010 10:01 pm

Yaziq wrote:Among extinct Native American languages would be the language spoken by Ishi of the Yana tribe near Oroville, CA. He was the last surviving member of his tribe.

There are hundreds of extinct American languages. But all the ones you mentioned in your post above (with the exception of Croatan) still have speakers. So that post is in the wrong forum.

Yaziq wrote:Wikipedia does not supply the depth that a native speaker would. I would hope to hear from some of them.

Native speakers of American languages--with vanishingly few exceptions--are not historical linguists. Those are the people who can tell you about the genetic affiliation of Mohawk, Cherokee, et al. and the consensus of their expert opinions is summarised in Wikipedia.
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Re: Native American Corner

Postby Dan_ad_nauseam » Sat 08 May 2010 3:19 am

Yaziq wrote:With participation this could be a locus for discussion of topics relating to Native American culture and linguistic history. Topics could include the classification of Native American languages both living and extinct, Trail of Tears, Ghost Dance, skinwalkers, or other topics that come to mind. I'm not aware of all the details of how these languages are classified, but I know that the Algonquin family is one of the major branches. Is the Mohawk language part of the Algonquin family? I'm not sure. Maybe Mohawk is Athabascan. I'm fairly sure that Cherokee is not in the Algonquin family. Apache may be part of the Uto-Aztec family. Speak up if you know the answer to this. I'm interested in the Croatan tribe and Melungeon people. I think that they are somehow related through intermarriage. Could the Melungeons be of Turkish origin? Some of them think they are. What say you?


As noted elsethread, North American native languages aren't entirely extinct.

Ethnologue lists the Iriquoian languages, including Mohawk and Cherokee, as a small independent family.

The various Apache languages are generally understood to be in the Athapaskan branch of Na-Dene (or, I suppose, Dene-Yeneseian, if that connection is accepted.)
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Re: Native American Corner

Postby linguoboy » Sat 08 May 2010 3:28 am

Dan_ad_nauseam wrote:Ethnologue lists the Iroquoian languages, including Mohawk and Cherokee, as a small independent family.

For at least a century now, it's been proposed that this family is linked with Siouan (and, by extension, Caddoan) in a phylum commonly called Macro-Siouan. But so far the consensus in the field is that this more distant relationship is unproven.
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Re: Native American Corner

Postby Yaziq » Sat 08 May 2010 8:52 pm

Well then, maybe this post belongs under Endangered Languages and Language Revival, except that it includes languages that will never be revived. A post without a category.
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Re: Native American Corner

Postby linguoboy » Sun 09 May 2010 12:37 am

Yaziq wrote:Well then, maybe this post belongs under Endangered Languages and Language Revival, except that it includes languages that will never be revived.

Or maybe you need to narrow your focus. You wouldn't start a thread called "Native European Corner" for discussion of all European languages--past and present, endangered and extinct--now, would you?
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Re: Native American Corner

Postby formiko » Mon 10 May 2010 4:23 am

I was studying for my Phd in American Indian languages (ABD), and I lied with a Tlingit family for 8 months as research for my dissertation. My grandmother was a half-blood Cherokee who married out of the reservation. She was fluent in Cherokee and only spoke to me in Cherokee during my summer holidays for 2 months every year. While it is said that Mohawk and Cherokee are related, it is a HUGE stretch. I know both, and they are about as similar as Polish and Spanish. (related..but barely)
Tlingit was so difficult, it actually caused pain to my brain ;) While I'm not fluent in Cherokee, I can hold my own. I have much familiarity in over 3 dozen Amerind languages, but please don't ask me anything about the NW (Squamish) or California languages. I know absolutely zero about them. :)
I've always had a deep love for the indigenous languages of the Americas, my background notwithstanding.
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Re: Native American Corner

Postby Yaziq » Mon 10 May 2010 7:01 pm

If you are going to discuss, for instance, Indo-European languages in a historical framework you are dealing with languages that are both living and extinct. Does anyone still speak Gothic or Illyrian? If so, I wish they would stand up and be counted. That would be most interesting. Does anyone still speak Olmec or Anasazi? If anyone does they hold the key to some historical mysteries.
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