Algonquian Language of Virginia: Powhatan Dialects of the Seventeenth Century and Beyond
Select Annotated Bibliography and Notes
Compiled by Buck Woodard
Barbour, Phillip L.
Barbour, Philip L. ed.
Within this edition of Barbour's larger volumes on the early Jamestown accounts, appear notes on Smith's map of Virginia. Included are discussions on the place names of Indian settlements, which are expanded in his article for the Virginia Magazine of History an Biography (see below).
Barbour, Philip L. ed.
Babour's volume is an invaluable collection of primary documents authored by Capt. John Smith from the early period of European settlement in Virginia. Linguistically, Smith includes many of the personal names, place names, and commonly used words of the Powhatan dialect throughout his writing. The most important contribution, aside from his extensive mapping and township name collection, can be found in his brief word list. The list includes common items from his experience as well as a counting system for the Powhatan people. Additionally, Smith offers a series of phrases that give an indication of the grammatical structure of the language. Those phrases may prove to be the more important aspect of his language content if future reconstruction work is carried out by the dedicated linguist. A sample of phrases is listed below:
Ka ka torawincs yowo. What call you this?
Beyond the reproduction of Smith's writings, Barbour also labors over the Smith map with his "Schedule B. Indian Villages and River Names". This list extracts the afforementioned name collection and easily separates the townships in order of their appearance on the various river drainages. He also includes a "Schedule C" that evaluates the tribes on the periphery of the Powhatan area.
Barbour, Phillip L.
Within the first section (vol. 79) of this extract, Barbour sets the stage for his inquiry into the writings of Captain John Smith. For this article, he was particularly interested with Smith's handling of the Algonquian words, phrases, and place names. He reviews the challenges of phonetic writing using Elizabethan English and discusses some of the shortcomings of the untrained linguistic writers of the period. The references and sources for the primary material are outlined and evaluated for challenges in penmanship and multiple recordings (and recorders). Barbour also includes a bibliography of sources cited and the locality of the primary documents consulted. Then, listed in alphabetical order the village names are discussed for pronunciation, spelling variations, comparisons to other Algonquian place names, and for possible meanings. An example of Barbour's entries has been included below:
MAMANASSY, village (map only). First element probably means "junction, joining;" N. Mattapanient (C&GS 496, near Burnt Mill Creek). Zuniga, Mamenasi, compare: Abenaki, mamnw-, "join (of water);" Mamanasco Lake, Conn., "joined outlets."
Within the second edition (vol. 80) Barbour begins his discussion with outlining the best primary sources of John Smith and William Stratchey, along with describing both men and their backgrounds. He also mentions several other sources for Virginia / Carolina Algonquian, either which have now been lost or which are variations of already published material. He continues with some notes on the relationship between Powhatan and Proto Algonquian; Barbour decides to omit the PA because of the possible difficulty for the layman in using roots and instead uses related forms or "cognates". Further, he discusses some of the phonetic values found within the Smith and Strachey recordings. This section is particularly useful, as it outlines (generally) the English pronunciation of the 1600s, which was in a great state of flux and different from today. Example:
-ea-, with exceptions modern -ay- ("sea" and "say"
were normally indistinguishable)
Additional content has been included discussing the phonetic values in other primary sources for Algonquian for the 17th and 18th centuries. Information about pronunciation is included and descriptions of the ligature used. A bibliography and abbreviation list appears, giving more information on comparative work in the field and sources used for the early transcriptions. There is a complete review of the words found in Smith's writing; each word is listed as it appeared in Smith, with relationships in meaning to Strachey and other period sources for other Algonquian. The entire list is phonetic in organization, representing the Powhatan consonants and vowel sounds. Notes are made about pronunciation, etymology, and primary recording challenges. Following the Powhatan material are New England Algonquian words found in Smith, and finally an index in English for reference. Example of the Powhatan from Smith:23. KERAGH "you"
WS quier, "you" [William Strachey]
quire, the same
kear, the same
keir, the same
GA chirah, no meaning given, but surely the same [Gabriel Archer]
Common Algonquian pronoun. Compare:
Nat. ken, "thou," kenauau, "you"; [Natick]
Del. (Len.) kiluwa, "you"; [Delaware, Lenape]
Woods Cree kila (plural kilawaw), "thou"
Smith's keragh (to rhyme with Vera) is undoubtedly plural
Barbour, Philip L.
Philip Barbour's article presented before the Big Moose Conference on Algonquian Research is a valuable source for common problems in reviewing early documents and pitfalls of contemporary linguists. Without hesitation, Barbour discusses Rev. Geary's work of 25 yrs. earlier and points out many flaws in Geary's approach and mistakes in his interpretations based on sound linguistics alone. He adequately demonstrates the need to work word by word in comparing Powhatan and Carolina Algonquian to other Algonquian speakers such as Natick and Abenaki. He offers some examples of both mistakes and misprints by previous linguists as well as mistakes and errors made by Smith and Strachey. Of interest is his insistence on approaching Powhatan through comparative Algonquian as oppose to face value trust of the early recorder's penmanship interpretation and the Proto Algonquian root sounds.
Barbour, Philip L.
Dalrymple, (Reverend) E.A. for "C.C." of Petersburg, Va.
In 1844 Rev. E. A. Dalrymple collected the following seventeen words from the Pamunkey Indian Reservation in King William County, Virginia. When published, most supposed this was all that was left of the Pamunkey Algonquian. Other than the list of words, we know very little about the collection of the sample, the author, informants, or the actual relationship of the language to "true Powhatan". Most scholars have been puzzled by this collection and have placed it in a group as an "unknown" element in the Eastern Algonquian language surveys. As with some other entries, this list has been reproduced because of its brevity.Nikkut, one
Baskonee, thank you
O-ma-yah, O my Lord
Eeskut, go out, dog
Forbes, Jack D.
Forbes' article is one that is unlike many of his predecessors; he includes an audio tape as a companion to his findings of the Powhatan language. Many contemporary scholars have had misgivings about Forbes' work; although intriguing, he neglects to give references or explanations for many of his findings. As not to enter into scholarly debate, it may be best to discuss Forbes' work at face value, and let further studies iron out incongruencies or differing opinions among linguists.
At first glance, Forbes appears to be differing greatly in his view of the ultimate common terms for distinct dialects (the word Wapanakmikok in place of Eastern Algonquian and the term Manitowinini to replace the term Algonquian). He further disagrees with many of the other contemporary evaluations of the language, namely Tooker, Gerard, and Siebert. However, based upon his evaluation of the similarities of Powhatan to Natick, Lenape, Nanticoke, and Ojibwa Forbes has provided some interesting findings. These ideas include the theory of mutual intelligibility after a few weeks of exposure, a greater relationship between Natick and Powhatan to be considered dialects of the same language, that Lenape is close enough to be considered one with the two previous groups (but late comers to their historic geography), and that there is no great divide between Great Lake and Atlantic languages - only a slow transition.
Further, Forbes elected to survey a random sample of 135 words from Natick, Powhatan, Lenape, and Ojibway. Nanticoke was included for 88 words, but because of a poor, short word list, could only be partially used. Forbes also included the scanty recorded Pamlico dialect into Powhatan as one group. From this random sampling and evaluation, the following ratios concerning Powhatan were developed:
1) Powhatan, Natick, Lenape, and Ojibway are 41% mutually intelligible
Using this survey as a base, Forbes deconstructs the Powhatan language into root words and reconstructs new words based on linguistic patterns and knowledge gleaned from the other Algonquian languages he surveyed. Of course this technique leads to debate and one has to approach the concept with that in mind. Some of Forbes' new words do not reflect the primary documents at all. However, some of the Forbes words make more sense linguistically than what the early Europeans recorded. As for practicality, Forbes succeeds in providing a beginning to what a possible reconstruction of the language might look and sound like.
Gerard, William R.
Gerard, William R.
William Gerard's brief, but interesting, article discusses the terms adopted into English from Virginia's aboriginal population. The list is incomplete, but it does include the majority of the Powhatan loan words seen in the Colonial and present day English language. Gerard's format is to name the word in it's many variations, followed by the description and definition of the item or idea, and then to elaborate on the etymology of each word and it's relations in Algonquian. Much information presented here is of good use, and the associations to other Algonquian languages is very helpful. The complete list from Gerard is listed within the entry on Edward Wright Haile, however a brief example is listed below:
CUSHAW, CASHAW, KERSHAW. - The crooked neck squash (Cucurbita Pepo, var.), called also, by market gardeners, "cashaw pumpkins". Cushaw was first mentioned by Beverly (1705) as the name of one of the plants which the Virginia Indians had growing near their towns, along with pumpkins and melons.
Etymology: A word of uncertain meaning. Perhaps short for a form of askushaw, from the root ask, "to be green," "unripe" (the state in which squashes are gathered for food); but the meaning of the suffix -ushaw (probably miswritten) is not clear.
This volume of the group published by Evolution Publishing includes material from John Smith (1624), Edwin A. Dalrymple (1858), and James Mooney (1907). Discussion in the volume's introduction by Frederick Gleach outlines the limits of the primary references, but also details some of the anthropological and linguistic work that has been done using those documents. Of note is his admission of little new research being done on the language for the majority of the 20th century. He explains the systematic thinking of scholars in dealing with poorly recorded Native languages and the urge to work on either better-recorded material or groups with living speakers. However, as Siebert's 1975 article demonstrates, new investigation and reconstruction work can be done and is worthy of future research and consideration. Aside from the documented writings of Smith, the volume includes the already mentioned Dalrymple Pamunkey (see above), but also includes Mooney's brief word list from his fieldwork published in 1907 ("The Powhatan Confederacy" American Anthropologist, Vol. 9, p.146.). Within that brief list, William Weaver, a Nansemond, recalls six words from the Powhatan language. The comments from his son (who was about 50) says that some parents and relatives had conversational capacity about 50 years ago (in 1907). The brief lists is usually never discussed in other remarks on the Powhatan language and has been reproduced below for convenience:Nikatwin, one
Misha naw, five
Within this volume, reproductions of work by William Strachey (1624), Gabriel Archer (?attributed, published 1860), and Robert Beverley (1705). The forward is by Frederick Gleach. As with the other forwards in this series, Gleach discuses challenges with the early recordings of Powhatan and the other languages in proximity, and the need for additional contemporary investigation into the area. He offers two volumes of interest, George Aubin's 1975 A Proto-Algonquian Dictionary (Ottawa: National Museum of Man) and John Hewson's 1993 A Computer Generated Dictionary of Proto Algonquian (Ottowa: Canadian Museum of Civilization) as examples of reference for future work in Powhatan language studies. To aide the review of the Strachey material, examples of both the Bodliean and British Library copies have been listed next to each other where needed. Beverly's original complete content has not been reproduced, instead offering just the language section.
Goddard's Algonquian chapter from the Smithsonian offers a glimpse at the relationship of Powhatan to its Eastern Algonquian neighbors. Each known dialect is grouped and described according to their relative location and supposed language group. The typical frustrations are expressed concerning Powhatan: the lack of consistency between the vocabularies of the Potomac and York River drainages, as well as the differing recordings that may be attributed to the European recorders as much as the indigenous dialectic differences. The more useful section of the article is probably the description of the Proto and Proto Eastern Algonquian relationships to all of the Algonquian languages and the description of the phonological innovations between the Eastern groups.
Within Volume 17 of the same series, Goddard discusses the chronological recording of North American Indian languages, including Virginia and Carolina. Notes on all of the primary recordings of the Tidewater languages are present, as well as comments about the linguists who have studied them.
Hale, Edward E.
(from Harriot - White's word list)
Haile, Edward Wright
Haile's brief chapter in his much larger volume of first decade accounts of the Virginia colony discuses the language of both seventeenth-century English and recorded Powhatan words / phrases. He relies mostly on Powhatan's contributions to English from an article by William Gerard as a matter of curiosity. His brief descriptions of linguistic material include Smith and Strachey, the now lost Harriot from the North Carolina Algonquians, and the Princeton Manuscript studied by Geary, Harrington, and Siebert. Haile uses the chapter to review some words heard repeatedly in his collection of records, as well as a reminder of many place and food names still used in the region. The list makes up the majority of the section and has been reproduced here due to its brevity.
From Haile's list (notes) on Gerard [brackets mine]
From Haile's list:chum (friend [or canoe companion from chemah or chemay in Jamestown Voyages])
pecan [Siebert notes as a later northern Algonquian addition]
squaw [as in werowansqua]
peak (thick shell money)
wow! (from "waugh, their word of wonder" (Strachey word list)
And a previously unpublished addition:[Kekitchuchun (Smith and Strachey) to tickle one. Kitchi Kitchi Koo]
Harrington, John P.
This publication by Harrington is the first for Strachey's original manuscript. The original document is housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, England. The manuscript is of significant historical importance, being the largest collection of primary source Powhatan Algonquian. Harrington discusses the previous publication of another copy in 1849 by the Hakluyt Society as well as a brief history of the known information about William Strachey and his travels.
On linguistics, Harrington shares the woes of many; Strachey's cramped writing style has confused scholars for generations. With this publication, Harrington hoped to give the reader a "best guess" contemporary deciphering as well as Strachey's original penmanship in the form of facsimile. Harrington also lists the primary source material at the point of his publication (White, Smith, Strachey, Anonymous, & Dalrymple). In addition, Harrington briefly discusses some pronunciation, linguistic relationships (such as Cree), and the content of the known source materials. He further breaks the collection of words into several "semantically classified" lists. The new lists gives Strachey's definitions, Harrington's deciphering of Strachey's letters, and a numerical reference to the original entry. Below is an example of Harrington's glossary:
It should be noted that later scholar's dealing with interpretation of Strachey's word list do not give much credence to Harrington's translations. The more important credit to Harrington is the publishing of the original Strachey manuscript.
Howell, Benita J., Levy, Richard S., and Luckenbach, Alvin.
A brief article discussing the contents of Rev. Dalrymple's Pamunkey collected in King William Co. in 1844. The article has a table that includes comparison of the numbers 1-10 from the Dalrymple Pamunkey, Powhatan Strachey, Powhatan Smith, Powhatan reconstructed by Siebert, Pamlico from Lawson, Delaware from Briton, and Proto Eastern Algonquian reconstructed from Siebert. Several immediate points are made:
1) only the Dalrymple Pamunkey numeral one corresponds to both Powhatan and Delaware;
2) the other recorded words from 1844 show no resemblance to any known Algonquian;
3) however, one interesting point may save the list - previously Siebert demonstrates that PA /*l/ becomes Powhatan / r/, and PA /*?l/ becomes Powhatan /ss/. None of the early recordings of Powhatan show an instance of borrowed / l/ and Delaware shows no acceptance of / r/. Conversely, Dalrymple's examples demonstrate two instances of! / r/ and two instances of / l/.
4) It is noted by the authors of this article that the Dalrymple Pamunkey may not be Pamunkey or Algonquian entirely and that it may represent a pidgin of an ethnic mixture of an acculturated descendant Pamunkey community.
McCartney, Martha W.
McCartney's article is primarily archival research centered on a discovery of a map drafted by Anthony Langston in the seventeenth century. McCartney describes in detail describing the historical and archeological implications of the map's content; however for Algonquian's sake, McCartney gives the reader a taste of long gone place names. Throughout the paper, Indian names are mentioned in the context of people, villages, and waterways associated with the York River. The final few pages take time to further describe geographical elements - including a comparison of original place names (Algonquian), changed place names (loan blend Powhatan-English), and contemporary names of either indigenous, loan / blend, or English. McCartney's observations take the place names to the oldest that can be found, many references dating to the first half of the seventeenth century. McCartney's research is thorough and leaves the reader curious about further place name evaluation, given Virginia's heavy extant Algonquian geographical name collection.
Truman's article is actually a letter to the American Anthropologist, within which, he describes some of the conflict among linguists in discussing Powhatan. Truman points out that Gerard and Tooker had a controversy brewing over the relationship of Powhatan to Cree, and that he (Truman) feels both were wrong in their conclusions. While maintaining Powhatan to be close to Cree, Truman does not think that they are dialects of each other, rather that they are related from a migration that occurred long ago. He lists several words that are the same in both languages as well as discusses the relationship to other Algonquian groups such as Fox.
Mook Maurice A.
Maurice Mook discussing convincingly, that the Moratuc of the South Roanoke River were most likely Algonquian speakers. He discusses the primary sources of Ralph Lane and the maps of Smith (1624), Horne (1666), Ogilby (1671), and Lawson (1709) as designating the river by that name until the 18th century. He also offers that James Mooney misidentified the group as Iroquoian and that mistake had persisted unchecked. Both Swanton and Speck agreed with Mook's new revision. This material is evidence of the relationship to the southern portion of Powhatan's influence and kinship extending further the southwest than had been previously reviewed with much interest. While no language samples remain, all the authorities feel the name Moratuc and the relations of the early Europeans point to an Algonquian designation.
Mook, Maurice A.
A larger dedication of this article is to ethnology (as described in title), however a brief section gives attention to place names and words attributed to Archer (1607). Within the brief section, Mook lists place names with their variable historical spellings and contemporary versions, and then relates Archer's word list and the context in which they were recorded. Mook leaves the analysis to more studied linguists, but does give the original meaning of the words recorded.
Quinn, David Beers ed.
David Beers Quinn published the most primary references on the first English attempts to inhabit the mainland of the Mid Atlantic. Accordingly, his work is reflective of the interactions between the "Carolina" Algonquian speakers and the various English parties. Included in his much larger double volume set are several chapters of interest in relation to the Indian languages of the region.
First, Quinn's sections on maps are very informative in comparing the early attempts to catalogue the land and people for future European voyages into the region. He includes the resources of those cartographers and the mistakes and inventions they made. From this collection we have our first look at Indian place names in the Virginia / Carolina region. Quinn has an area for commentary on the "Map of Raleigh's Virginia" that proves to be very helpful in evaluating variations of English spellings and understanding of the Algonquian they heard. Quinn discusses at some length about the village locations and does provide some etymology where available. This work also provides references for further reading or to document his findings. An example is listed below:
20. Chawanoac (De Bry), Choanists, Choanokes, Chawanooks, Chaonists, Chanoists, a Carolina Algonkian tribe of the Chowan River, occupying from the junction of the Meherrin and Nottoway Rivers almost down to Albemarle Sound (Mook, "Algonkian ethno-history", pp. 189-92). The name is said to be Carolina Algonquian for "people at the south", i.e. a tribe which had only recently gone south, which in turn, may reflect a fairly recent migration of the whole Carolina Algonquian group of tribes (cp. Swanton, Indians, p.217, Indian tribes, p.77).
The following chapter (Appendix II) is authored by the Rev. James A. Geary. Geary provides an introduction into the study of "The Position of the Indian Language of Virginia and North Carolina in the Algonquian Family". His discussions address the challenges faced by reviewing Elizabethan and Jacobean texts (see elsewhere in this appendix) and the troubles with "extinct" language reconstructions. Geary also mentions the northern Iroquois movements as being a further intrusion into the already developed dialectic divergences, creating further drift from a more geographic homogeny for Eastern Algonquian. Additional information is provided for consonants, consonant clusters, vowels, and chief phonetic divergences of the Algonquian languages. Most of this section is consistent with other linguists' findings with only a few exceptions (while Geary's work is intriguing, some later linguists [such as Ives Goddard] are not convinced with his etymologies). Geary further provides some examples of his understandings of the variations in dialects and language groups, such as follows:
(7) punguy, pungwe 'ashes', from PA *penkwi, as in Fox pekwi. Ojibwa-Algonquian pingw-, Delaware punk, Abenaki pegui, Natick pukque, Cree pihk-.
(11) uhpoocan 'a tobacco-pipe', from PA *uxpwakani, as in Fox uhpwakani, Cree aspwakan.
Additional commentary by Geary is comprised of a list of Indian words found in the documents of Harriot, White, Lane, and from various Spanish sources. This section results in 82 distinct words gathered between 1584-1590, 56 distinct tribal and place names, as well as 19 personal names. Several examples of this glossary are listed below:
Maco'cqwer, Car. Alg.; general term for pumpkins and gourds (Harriot). Macocqwer is apparently related to Fox mahkahkwi, pl. mahkkahkoni, 'box, barrel, etc. = container', with parallel forms in Ojibway, and Cree. The -er may be a misreading of -or (as in chapacor 'roots'). As gourds were actually used as containers, this seems satisfactory.
Menatoan, Car. Alg.; man's name (Lane) Looks like *minaw-ehtaw-an 'he listens attentively to him (it)', from *minawi 'carefully' + -ehtaw - 'listen to animate object'. The final -n I cannot explain (as in several cases), the name has no doubt, reference to a totem, some animal; it is useless to speculate which.
Quinn, David B.
Rountree, Helen C.
A comprehensive guide to Powhatan tradition and material culture, Rountree's volume excels in providing the reader with an introduction to Virginia's Algonquians. Of notice is the prologue, which combined with the endnotes, gives a very good view of Algonquian village names and meanings. Rountree continues throughout the volume to place Algonquian in the appropriate locations, allowing the layman to sift through the content without having to be either an archivist or linguist to attain comprehension of primary references to the language. While the book's aim is a broader ethnohistorical view, the language content is significant.
Rountree, Helen C.
These two appendix guides offer a look at Algonquian personal names on the Delmarva Peninsula from the first two centuries of prolonged contact. The appendices are organized alphabetically in Algonquian, followed by date recorded, the community or tribe of the individual, and reference location for the source material. Combined with examples from Rountree's earlier work (1989, 1990) these chapters could provide more insight for the studious linguist into Powhatan naming practices.
Rountree, Helen C.
This brief extract is a simplified version of Frank Siebert's 1975 "Resurrecting..." paper. Rountree added an introduction, a few minor notes, and some conclusions. The importance of this work lies in the nature of it's construction: it is designed to be read by the layman without relying on too much linguistic knowledge. For the most part, Rountree stays the course and deals with the "confirmed" Algonquian words Siebert felt comfortable with as exact renditions. She uses a simplified pronunciation guide and worked very hard to extract the proper pronunciation from Seibert's more technical volume. However, there is more anthropological opinion in this publication than has previously been seen in the linguistic category. Rountree additionally gives the readers a "parting shot" to discuss some of the challenges in Algonquian Language studies. Rountree explains the challenges faced by small communities and isolated language groups in a sea of English speakers. The paper notes that across the Eastern Seaboard, Algonquian speakers lost most of the traditional dialects over centuries of European contact. In the final pages of this word list, Rountree laments the loss of Algonquian in Virginia and additionally states that she, and the leading linguists in Algonquian (Goddard and Siebert) feel that it cannot be resurrected as a living, fluent language.
Salvucci, Claudio R. (series ed.)
ALR offers a handy miniature of several primary document recordings of the Powhatan and Roanoke languages. The guides are easily navigable through a dictionary format (English to Roanoke, Roanoke to English) and include some introductory notes as well as a bibliography for each reference made. The Roanoke issue discusses the relative relationship of the group to the Powhatan and distinguishes the Roanoke and Pamlico as a separate Algonquian cultural group and the languages as being on the one hand unintelligible to Virginia Powhatan (based on Harriot - Beverley, 1705) and maybe of the same language but a separate dialect (based on all the sources - Goddard, 1978). Further, the volume identifies the various sources for recent identification of birds names and select phrases as well as Lawson's 1709 input from Pamlico (as well as Tuscarora and Woccon).
Siebert, Frank T. Jr.
Frank Siebert Jr.'s position paper is extremely technical in linguistic method and discussion. His personal description sets his key concepts in motion, "(Leonard) Bloomfield has set up the Proto-Algonquian clusters *xk and *xp, using x to represent an undetermined phoneme preceding k and p. This paper proposes to show that *xk consists of two clusters in the parent language, namely *øk and *xk. In addition to establishing the validity of a new Proto-Algonquian cluster, it gives the reflexes for the principal Eastern Algonquian languages and postulates the stages of development. Further, Siebert provides dozens of examples of Powhatan and other Algonquian language consonant clusters divided into sections of *øk, *xk, and xp. Of Powhatan specifically, he states that Powhatan "is like Cree in having PA *øk and *k fall together to sk, but agrees with most Algonquian in having hp as a reflex of *xp, as opposed to Cree sp."
Linguistic analysis lead Siebert to believe that reasonable deductions could be made about the movements of early Algonquians based on their language patterns. Due to these patterns, relationships between Eastern and Central Algonquian can be inferred. It would seem that Powhatan and Cree both experienced slight phonetic changes that would be different from their Proto Algonquian cousins. Unlike the other groups, both Powhatan and Cree languages shifted *xk to sk, however they appear at extreme opposite ends of the Algonquian language area. Therefore, an early migration is assumed for the Powhatan to the Atlantic coast from the St. Lawrence region while the remainder of the Algonquians resided west of the Appalachians. Before the Powhatan-Cree separation, both groups underwent similar phonetic shifts and can be then related to shifts seen within other groups like the Ojibway and Delaware. Successive waves of invading Algonquians pushed the Powhatan to the southern extreme of the linguistic region; first by the Abenaki-Penobscot, then by the Massachusetts, and finally the Delaware. However, the groups interacted enough to have all of the languages still retain traces of Powhatan influence, indicating their former locality. These several shifts occurred through time and a sequential phonetic pattern can be seen by how closely the languages relate in recent centuries.
Siebert, Frank T.
By far the most scientific and well-documented author, Siebert deservedly was the leading linguist in Powhatan phonology. His 1975 volume has yet to be surpassed in thorough study, documentation, and evaluation of the extant primary Powhatan sources and contemporary Algonquian relationships. Siebert dedicates the first portion of this article to discuss Powhatan and European interaction during the 16th and 17th centuries. He outlines the exchanges of language, customs, warfare, and materials between the groups as well as long-term effects of such interactions. As with other academics discussing the Powhatan primary sources, Siebert takes time to discuss the character of the handwriting available for review, and then elaborates on the challenges found within. Other brief sections are dedicated to discussing his reconstituted Powhatan phonology and his approach to establishing dialects within the language. He then reviews ideas of comparative languages to Powhatan and the understandings gleaned since the unveiling of Proto-Eastern Algonquian as a root language for all Eastern Algonquian.
To begin his evaluations of Powhatan, Siebert elaborates on the numerical systems of the coastal Algonquian and compares the contemporary languages to each other for an understanding of the variety numerical methodologies. He discusses the quinary, decimal, fused quinary-decimal, and a descriptive system using fingers as counting instruments. The language of the Powhatan begins with a numeric lexicon 1-10. Example below:
a) /ka - ski - k/
b) kaskeke (Smith), koske (Harriot)
c) There is a cognate in Pamlico (Pampticough cosh, Lawson 1709, p.226; misprint for cosk or coshk?) which suggests a southeastern PEA /*ka - skyekwi/ 'ten' formed with the decimal system abstract final PA /*-yekwi/.
Siebert uses the above format for reviewing the other phonetic collections from Powhatan. Section "a" is the phonetic spelling, "b" is the primary document record, and "c" is an area for comparison to other languages or a discussion about the construction elements of the word.
Siebert's lexicon is alphabetical and relies only on the words he "confirms" based on other Algonquian comparisons.
a) /nek/ 'my mother', /kek/ 'thy mother'.
b) kick "mother" (H8), neck "mother" (H10)
c) PA /*nekya/ 'my mother'; F /nekya/; M /nekiah/ or /neki-yah/; S /nekiya/; Mi /ninkia/; mD /nkek/. PA /*wekyali/ 'his mother': F /okye - ni/; M /okian/.
In the later sections of the article, Siebert discusses syncope among the Powhatan word examples; he offers several examples of major and minor instances. Then, he begins to discuss some other features, such as the beginning of grammar. Siebert was more comfortable discussing the historical phonology of Powhatan than he was the grammar. He creates a series of charts for both sections, however his phonetic work has been definitive for the last half century. Siebert gives examples of major shifts from PA to PEA and reviews in detail phonological innovations within Powhatan.
In conclusion, Siebert discusses the history of phonetic shift within the Algonquian groups and the creation of PEA and PEA-A (Proto Eastern Algonquian Archaic). He makes very convincing cases for the arrival and displacements of groups based on phonetics. Further, he revisits the Classification chart of Eastern Algonquian and breaks the PEA and PEA-A groups down even further into supposed dialects. While not as dynamic in discussion and heavy on the charts and comparisons, Siebert's reference is by far the standard for the Powhatan evaluation.
Rev. James A. Geary evaluates Strachey's recordings and makes a useful list illustrating the variety of either dialects recorded within Virginia or the garbled transcriptions Strachey made. Geary identifies the error factors with Strachey's manuscript as:1) the irregular spelling of English at that time makes pronunciation of an Indian word doubtful;
2) one is not sure that the Indian words were correctly heard;
3) one is not sure that the Indian words were exactly understood;
4) there are evident errors in the copying of Strachey's MS.
Geary continues to group the list into several dialect categories and provides evidence to support his claims from other Eastern Algonquian sources; he identifies five dialects within the Strachey manuscript. The dialects are referred to by their consonant replacements of *ø and *l. Therefore, Geary calls these the t-r dialect, the r-r dialect, and the n-n dialect. He also identifies two dialects that deal with nasal clusters; one that has retained the *mp, *nt, *nk clusters - referred to as the nk dialect, the other is described as a dialect that lost the nasal clusters all together. Further, he gives examples of word groups based on ease of intelligibility. However, later linguists and experts in the field find fault with many of Geary's findings, and should be viewed with that in mind. Listed below are excerpts from Geary's five lists:
Class 1: Plainly Evident
Class 2: Easily Amended
Class 3: Garbled, but perhaps explainable with more or less drastic emendation:
Class 4: Plausible Algonquian forms, but not yet recognized in other languages:
Class 5: spellings that are simply bewildering -
though they may ultimately be emended so as to be placed in Class 2 or
Swanton, John R.
Tooker, William Wallace
Tooker's article is one of brevity, dedicated primarily to analyzing the name "kuskarawaokes" and describing the historical account in which the name was recorded. Basically, the name is divided up by Tooker (kusca-wau-anau-ock) to mean "a place of making white beads". He further describes the people who later become known as the Nanticoke, as businessmen in the lucrative shell trade.
Tooker, William Wallace
Tooker's original publication appeared as a conference paper in 1895. Within the short discussion, Tooker attempts to evaluate the Algonquian words for their Siouan neighbors. His investigations have been viewed with varying degrees of success - and should be considered for the time in which they were written. However, he makes some interesting points as exampled by the following:
Monacan or Monahacan can be divided into "mona" - verb signifying "to dig" and "- hacan" an instrumentive noun suffix used to denote things artificial (from Cree). "Mona-ack-anough" can be seen as "mona = to dig", "ack = land or earth", and a generic term "-anough" for "nation or people". The collection gives the idea that the Monacan name indicated they were miners or diggers.
There are other translations Took invests himself in, working his way through all of the early references to Siouan speaking tribes of seventeenth-century Virginia / Carolina. He includes some historical and ethnographical notes throughout the publication and offers fairly good footnotes to explain his ideas.
Tooker, William Wallace
In this volume, Tooker explains the challenges with looking at Algonquian place names at face value. He discusses the nature in which Europeans adopted names being quite different from their original source intentions. He argues that on New England Algonquian is closer to the Powhatan version; he also feels it is a mistake to look at Delaware too closely when evaluating Powhatan material. He looks at two Powhatan Algonquian words (Patawomeke and Massawomeke) for complete evaluation.
Tookers is credited with saying the meaning of Patow-om-eke as "those who travel to bring again" " to bring again they go and come" or in free translation, traders or peddlers. This deciphering comes from "Patow" in several root varieties to mean "to bring again", and Tooker relates this as a root to "Powhatan" as well. He offers "Patau, Paudtow, Pautow, Peta, and Peytow" from Massachusetts, Narragansett, Delaware, and Cree as examples of "to bring in" and "he brings it". Further, he looks at the second component of "om" to relate to "going again, or going forth" and "eke" to be the animate plural affix, both corresponding to the afore mentioned groups. Antimony was recorded as a valuable trade commodity controlled by the Patawomeke - however Tooker believes the goods in question to be graphite. Tooker continues to expand, much in the same way about Massawomeke. He suggests the meaning is "those who come and go by boat".
Tooker, William Wallace
Tooker devotes the beginning of this issue of his series to reviewing the historical record with Chickahominy and John Smith. Eventually, he divides the word Chickahominy into "Chick-aham-min-anough" as to mean "coarse ground corn people". He believes this to be as "chick = large, great, coarse", "aham = he beats or pounds", "min = small grain, fruit, berry", "anough = nation or people". For Pamunkey, Tooker discusses the primary documents surrounding Pamunkey's first mentioning, followed by an etymology. The description of Pamunkey is probable, but less convincing than all of Tooker's other evaluations. He believes the name to mean, "a place of mystery"
Forty Versions of the Lords Prayer in Algonquian
Trumbull, J. Hammond
J. Hammond Trumball reviewed the earlier published "Forty Versions of the Lord's Prayer" to elaborate on the content and to make some distinctions about the material recorded. While many of the extracts come from Eastern Algonquian, none of the material appears to come directly from the Powhatan. However, Trumball does mention the language briefly, "I have placed by themselves the dialects which have been called 'Delaware' - the one of which, at least, seems to have closer affinity with languages of the interior than with those of the Atlantic seaboard. There is less difference between the dialects of the New England and the Powhatan of Virginia, than between either of these and the 'Lenni-Lenape' of Zeisberger". Hence, another relation made to the New England versions of the language being closer to Powhatan than the Delaware is to either group. Trumball goes into detail with each version of the Lord's Prayer, dissecting the translations and evaluating the condition in which it was recorded and the proficiency of the material translated and how well it was organized. Of particular interest are the sections on Niantic, Pequot, and Mohegan as examples of close linguistic relatives to Powhatan.
Last Updated: 22-Nov-2006