The more adventurous may note that there are good prospects for going beyond proto-Siouan. It is generally accepted that Catawban is Siouan's nearest relative, and the database sometimes includes Catawba cognates (as under "lake, water" above), but makes no attempt at Proto-Siouan-Catawban reconstructions. (Work on Catawba continues, but some older materials are available online, eg Lieber 1858, Gatschet 1900). Beyond that, some work suggests that Siouan-Catawban is in turn related to what would otherwise be an isolate language - Yuchi, originally spoken in Tennessee and later forcibly relocated to Oklahoma. Efforts to find etymologies at that level have barely gotten off the ground (cf. eg Rudes 1974), but there are some promising ones, notably proto-Siouan *isá•pE "black" vs. Yuchi ispí (Elmendorf 1964). Even more implausible proposals, like the idea of a special relationship with the small Yukian family of California (Elmendorf 1963), could at any rate be reexamined in the light of this work.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Comparative Siouan Dictionary
A key document in Native American philology which has been circulating in samizdat form for decades is finally online and searchable: the multi-authored Comparative Siouan Dictionary (as noted by Guillaume Jacques). Named for the last of its speakers to resist colonization, the Sioux or Lakota, the Siouan family was spread over a vast section of North America, covering much of the Missouri and Mississippi valleys but with old outliers as far east as Tutelo in Virginia. The names of several Midwesternstates derive from Siouan languages, so they make a convenient starting point for exploring the database. Minnesota is from Dakota mni sota "cloudy water",both elements of whose history you can trace back here to proto-Siouan: *waRé• "lake, water" and *(a)só•tE "hazy, bluish, cloudy". *waRé• also yields Chiwere ñį, which in combination with the Chiwere reflex of *parás-ka "spread > flat (1)" yields the name of Nebraska. Dakota, from a name of the Sioux, has a less venerable history, being traceable only back to proto-Mississippi Valley Siouan *hkota/*hkoRa/*hkora "friend", with unexplained internal variation and similar forms in other families suggesting the possibility of a loan. (The la- element might have something to do with fire; see John Koontz's discussion.) Kansas, Arkansas, and Iowa also have names of Siouan origin, but I can't find them in here; much work remains to be done, after all... For the relevant correspondences, a good starting point is Rankin et al. 1997, available from the same site.