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LINGUIST List 18.238

Tue Jan 23 2007

Books: Typology: Liedtke

Editor for this issue: Hannah Morales <hannahlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Ulrich Lueders, The Relationship of Wintuan to Plateau Penutian: Liedtke

Message 1: The Relationship of Wintuan to Plateau Penutian: Liedtke
Date: 19-Jan-2007
From: Ulrich Lueders <lincom.europat-online.de>
Subject: The Relationship of Wintuan to Plateau Penutian: Liedtke

Title: The Relationship of Wintuan to Plateau Penutian
Series Title: Lincom Studies in Native American Linguistics 55
Published: 2007
Publisher: Lincom GmbH

Author: Stefan Liedtke
Paperback: ISBN: 9783895863578 Pages: 95 Price: Europe EURO 42.00

This is the first attempt at a comprehensive comparison of Wintuan and
Plateau Penutian, two subgroups which are regarded as members of the
hypothetical Penutian language family.

The Winutan language group of Northern California includes as its most
well-known representatives Wintu, Nomlaki (which are top of the list of
endangered languages) and Patwin (which must be regarded as extinct). This
group is demonstrated by the author as having close connections to the
"Plateau Penutian" group. The Plateau group includes, as highly independent
members, the Klamath-Modoc language, which is also endangered (and is
spoken in south central Oregon and a smaller part of northeastern
California), the Sahaptian group (including Nez Perce and Sahaptin), with
slightly better chances of survival, spoken in Oregon, Washington and
Idaho, as well as the now extinct Molala in north central Oregon. In this
paper, an attempt is made at throwing some light on the many ramifications
of Penutian, one of the most interesting language families in North
America, whose members differ strongly from each other and are spread from
southeastern Alaska to Southern California.

The author goes far beyond the indications provided by other scholars
(e.g. the similarities noticed by DeLancey (1987) between the pronouns of
Wintu and Klamath), by presenting morphological elements and structural
similarities as well as over 130 comparison sets from all areas of the
lexicon that are common to Wintuan, Klamath and Sahaptian. Thus, for the
first time the Sahaptian languages of the Plateau group are also taken into

For some time it has been clear that the Penutian languages of California
(Wintuan, Maiduan, Yokuts, Miwok-Costanoan), which used to be subsumed
under the heading of "California Penutian", are indeed related, but do not
form a Penutian subbranch of their own that developed in California.
Instead, we are dealing with independent members of Penutian, the speakers
of which migrated long ago in successive waves from regions further to the
North into their current habitats. The relationships between the
Californian languages, which undoubtedly exist, are, however, difficult to
evaluate, as due to the geographical proximity and the manifold cultural
connections between the peoples of California it is often unclear whether
we are dealing with loans or inherited material. Instead, it appears that
all the Penutian languages of California exhibit deep connections with
languages to the north (Oregon, Washington and elsewhere). This larger
context, where borrowing borrowing can be ruled out, is also repeatedly
referred to here.

The mere fact that the four Californian groups (Wintuan, Maiduan,
Miwok-Costanoan, Yokuts) represent four different migrations from the North
into California does not give any indication as to their relationship with
each other: they could still form a subgroup (or be part of a larger
subgroup) that did not originate and differentiate in California, but
somewhere outside California.

Wintuan is very independent, and no claim is made that it is closer to
Plateau than to anything else, nor that there is a special subgroup within
Penutian consisting of Wintuan and the Plateau languages.

Linguistic Field(s): Typology
Language Family(ies): Plateau Penutian

Written In: English (eng )

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