Areal polysemy ‘earth/year’ in North American languages: historical implications
The article analyzes an areal polysemy ‘earth/year’ in the languages of North America. The distribution of the trait largely coincides with the cultural region of California. Within this area, the polysemy ‘earth/year’ is attested from Molala in the north to Seri in the south. The trait in question is apparently old in Yuman, Chumashan and Yuki-Wappo, whereas Uto-Aztecan languages acquired it as a result of contact with other families. However, a number of outliers are attested outside California: languages of the Northern Plains and adjoining regions of Great Lakes (Winnebago, Lakota-Dakota, Skiri Pawnee, Menominee), Southeastern Tepehuan and Oaxaca Chontal. These may result from prehistoric migrations. Presence of this polysemy in Northern Plains languages can be connected to the eastward migration of Algonquian speakers from the Proto-Algic homeland possibly located in the Fraser River basin. The case of Southeastern Tepehuan is possibly due to prehistoric contacts between Proto-Tepiman and Yuman languages, with the subsequent southward migration of Southeastern Tepehuan speakers. Oaxaca Chontal belongs to a hypothetical Hokan family, whose other branches are located in California. Moreover, Oaxaca Chontal word for ‘earth/year’ is cognate to words with the same meaning in Yuman and Seri.