LINGUIST List 6.1634

Mon Nov 20 1995

Sum: Mystery Language

Editor for this issue: Annemarie Valdez <>


  1. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Summary: Mystery Language

Message 1: Summary: Mystery Language

Date: Sun, 19 Nov 1995 09:01:35 Summary: Mystery Language
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Summary: Mystery Language

Not too long I posted a query listing some basic vocabulary from
a language I did not identify except to say it was a native American
tongue and asking if anybody had any guesses as to what language
family it might belong to. Pat Crowe wrote in to tell me it did
not look Iroquoian, but I have received no positive suggestions.
As Ralf-Stefan Georg, who also wrote in, immediately surmised,
the language is Tonkawa, about whose genealogical affiliations
there has historically been a certain amount of debate. However,
almost all of the earlier work ignored what I call Old Tonkawa,
and I thought that posting a list of basic vocabulary incl. a number
of basic body part terms which were subsequently replaced by neologisms
just might trigger an idea in somebody's mind. But no luck so far.
(I myself have a paper coming out in IJAL in which I argue that super-
ficially looks if anything closer to Na-Dene than to the various
other families it has historically been compared to, but I have no
confidence at all that is deeper story.)

Alexis Manaster Ramer
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