LINGUIST List 3.1001

Fri 18 Dec 1992

Disc: Seminole

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. John E. Koontz, Re: 3.1000 Queries: ...; Seminole
  2. Roland Walker 214 - 709 2400, languages in Florida

Message 1: Re: 3.1000 Queries: ...; Seminole

Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1992 09:55:09 Re: 3.1000 Queries: ...; Seminole
From: John E. Koontz <>
Subject: Re: 3.1000 Queries: ...; Seminole

> A linguistic map of North America in Ruhlen's _Guide to the Languages of
> the World, Vol 1: Classification_ (GLW-1) shows a white patch in southern
> Florida, which the legend explains as "unclassified or undocumented".
> ...
> So: (1) What are the unclassified, undocumented languages of South
> Florida? (2) What is the original provenance of Seminole? (3) Why
> isn't Seminole listed in Ruhlen? (4) Why didn't I just send this to Pam
> Munro instead of boring you all to tears?

There are two contemporary Muskogean languages in Florida (with some
transportees in Oklahoma), both called popularly called Seminole. In the
linguistic literature they are called Mikasuki (earlier spelling Miccosukee)
and Seminole or Seminole Creek, i.e., Seminole proper is a dialect of Creek.
Both were introduced into southern Florida in comparatively late times,
under American colonial pressure.

The aborignal population of south Florida were a set of apparently related
groups usually known in the literature as the the Calus or Calusa, sometimes
with c-cedille for s. The Spanish also called them the Carlos, Carlo, etc.
I think this word was actually the title or regnal name of the senior chief.
It is the linguistic classification of Calus(a) that is unknown.

The aborignal population of Florida, and, in fact, of the entire southeast,
was severely modified by the effects of European contact, over the period of
the 1500's through the early 1800's. Almost all of the aboriginal groups of
Florida, coastal Georgia, and the coastal Carolinas were extinguished
linguistically, culturally, and even ethnically. Remains of the several
groups of Siouan (or Siouan-Catawban) speakers in the Carolinas do survive
as the Catawba, and there are some other relict groups. Some Christianized
survivors of the Calus were transported by the Spanish to Cuba and Mexico.
I don't think they are still distinguishable.

I'm not familiar with Ruhlen's treatment of Muskogean, but I suppose that
Seminole is conflated with Creek. Is Mikasuki listed separately?
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Message 2: languages in Florida

Date: 18 Dec 1992 18:10:00 -0600languages in Florida
From: Roland Walker 214 - 709 2400 <>
Subject: languages in Florida

In response to Allan C. Wechsler re: Seminole:

Seminole is listed as a dialect of Muskogee (along with Creek & similar to
Mikasuki, at the S. tip of Florida) in Grimes, B.F. 1992. Ethnologue: Languages
of the World, 12th edition. Dallas: SIL. [For a copy, contact Int'l Linguistics
Center, Academic Bookstore, 7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, Tel:
214-709-2404.] There is a bit more info in Ethnolgue (e.g. 10M speakers out of
20M pop.).
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