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Regular version of the site

Article

Areal polysemy ‘earth/year’ in North American languages: historical implications

Etnografia. 2019. No. 3. P. 167-180.

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.