Title

Macro-Siouan: The View from Fort Berthold

Presenter Information

Erika M. Grantier

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

As people come into contact, they share various aspects of their cultures with one another: scientific and literary ideas, research and performance methods, and language. Language can be shared in many different ways, most of which are traceable and so can serve to further our understanding of the historic interactions between groups of people. When attempting to establish genetic links and understand the relationships among the over 300 Native languages of North America, we must differentiate between lexical and grammatical elements that are truly related, and those that have merely been borrowed or adapted from a neighboring tongue. This project aims to expand the current scholarship on the controversy over whether Macro-Siouan is an overarching language family containing the Siouan, Iroquoian, and Caddoan families, or if the similarities among the languages in these families is due to borrowing and diffusion. For this research, vocabulary lists, grammars, and previous linguistic scholarship of two Siouan languages, Hidatsa and Mandan, and one Caddoan language, Arikara, were used. These three languages were chosen because they, and the tribes who speak them, have been in close geographical and cultural proximity since they were all placed on the Fort Berthold reservation outside of Bismarck, North Dakota in 1845. While I do not claim to resolve this long-standing controversy, I contribute to the debate by adding another dimension of comparative data and by illuminating the difficulties posed by extensive borrowing for linguists attempting to reconstruct genetic relationships.

Category

Social Sciences

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Apr 13th, 2:40 PM Apr 13th, 3:00 PM

Macro-Siouan: The View from Fort Berthold

UC 326

As people come into contact, they share various aspects of their cultures with one another: scientific and literary ideas, research and performance methods, and language. Language can be shared in many different ways, most of which are traceable and so can serve to further our understanding of the historic interactions between groups of people. When attempting to establish genetic links and understand the relationships among the over 300 Native languages of North America, we must differentiate between lexical and grammatical elements that are truly related, and those that have merely been borrowed or adapted from a neighboring tongue. This project aims to expand the current scholarship on the controversy over whether Macro-Siouan is an overarching language family containing the Siouan, Iroquoian, and Caddoan families, or if the similarities among the languages in these families is due to borrowing and diffusion. For this research, vocabulary lists, grammars, and previous linguistic scholarship of two Siouan languages, Hidatsa and Mandan, and one Caddoan language, Arikara, were used. These three languages were chosen because they, and the tribes who speak them, have been in close geographical and cultural proximity since they were all placed on the Fort Berthold reservation outside of Bismarck, North Dakota in 1845. While I do not claim to resolve this long-standing controversy, I contribute to the debate by adding another dimension of comparative data and by illuminating the difficulties posed by extensive borrowing for linguists attempting to reconstruct genetic relationships.