The Dialectology of Southern New England Algonquiian

the dialectology of southern new england algonquian?

The Dialectology of Southern New England Algonquiian
Author: David J. Costa
Publisher: University of Mannitoba
Publication date: 2007
Number of pages: 48

Format / Quality: PDF / excellent
Size: 379 KB


Papers of the 38th Algonquian Conference, ed. H.C. Wolfart
(Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 2007), pp. 81-127.
The Dialectology of Southern New England Algonquian
El Cerrito, California
379 KB – 48 pages

‘Southern New England Algonquian’ is the name for the subgroup of the
Eastern Algonquian language family originally spoken in what is now
Rhode Island, almost all of Connecticut, the eastern half of Long Island,
and most of Massachusetts (see Salwen 1978:161). The original neighbors
of the southern New England languages were Munsee Delaware to
the southwest, Mahican to the west, and Abenaki to the north. Additionally,
there is reason to believe southern New England languages once
extended northwards along the Atlantic coast into southeastern New
Hampshire and coastal Maine, though this is far from certain.
The dialectology of southern New England is problematic due to a
lack of data from much of the area. None of the southern New England
languages have been spoken for about a hundred years, and most have not
been spoken for over two hundred years. We have no linguistic records at
all for many groups, while the documentation of several other groups is
quite meager. The documentation of SNEA is especially poor for the interior
(i.e., northern Connecticut, northern Rhode Island, and central Massachusetts),
Long Island, and the northeastern Massachusetts and
southeastern New Hampshire area. The dialectology of New England as a
whole was aptly described by Gordon Day (1967:107) as “very reminiscent
of a northern muskeg, with its islands of more or less firm ground rising
out of a generally uncertain terrain.” Further complicating the
dialectological analysis of this area is the fact that most of the materials
we do have are of uncertain tribal or geographic identity, or exhibit substantial
dialect mixing.
The languages in southern New England for which we have significant
data are Massachusett-Coweset, spoken in eastern Massachusetts and
central Rhode Island; Narragansett proper, spoken in southern Rhode
Island; Mohegan-Pequot-Montauk, spoken in southeastern Connecticut
and eastern Long Island; Quiripi-Naugatuck, in southwestern Connecticut;
Unquachog, spoken in central Long Island; and ‘Loup’, probably
spoken in central Massachusetts and adjoining areas of northeastern Connecticut
and northwestern Rhode Island.1 Additionally, the Western and
Eastern Niantic, along the southeast coast of Connecticut and the south
coast of Rhode Island, were also members of this group, and probably
spoke a dialect of the Mohegan-Pequot-Montauk group. The Etchemin
language of the coast of Maine might also have belonged to this group,2 though the extremely meagre documentation will forever prevent its conclusive classification.
Map 1. The languages of southern New England.
The palatalization of PA *k
The merger of PEA *hr and *hx in SNEA
PEA word-final *r → SNEA š
Reflexes of PEA *r
The Intrusive Nasal in SNEA
Abenaki Syncope in SNEA
The east / west split
Shared vocabulary in languages of Connecticut and Long Island
The position of Loup
Narragansett / Coweset (Roger Williams)
Map 2: The reflexes of PEA *r in SNEA
Eastern Niantic (Stiles’s “Narragansett”)


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