Thursday, September 01, 2005

Ever wonder about Chickasaw

This week is insanely busy with the job transfer, a presentation, a paper, and regular homework. I just finished the little paper which is about the classification of Chickasaw (an Amerindian language) and Numfor (a Papuan language), so I pasted it below.

Genetic Classification of Chickasaw and Numfor
            Chickasaw is a language of America spoken by approximately 1,000 speakers in south-central Oklahoma per the 1999 census of the Chickasaw Nation. There are 35,000 – 37,000 people of Chickasaw ethnicity; so roughly 3% of ethnic Chickasaw use the Chickasaw language as their native language. (Gordon, 2005.) The original Chickasaw homeland was east of the Mississippi River.  In the early 19th century, the Chickasaw claimed land from what is now Tupelo in northeastern Mississippi, west to the Mississippi River, and where the Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi rivers converge.  The Chickasaw were relocated by the United States government in the 1830s, where they were originally settled on the western land of the Choctaw Nation (also a people moved from the American South-East). This land was later split off to make the Chickasaw Nation. (Crawford, 1975)
            Chickasaw has been identified as belonging to a Muskogean language family since at least Powell (1880).  The core of this language family has also remained intact for a long time including at least Chickasaw, Choctaw, Alabama, and Creek.  There have been no suggestions to change this core group in the intervening years. However, there have been many debates concerning 1) how the Muskogean language family fits with a possible Amerind super family; 2) how it connects to possible isolate languages such as Natchez, Tunica, and Yuki; and 3) whether or not Chickasaw is a dialect of Choctaw or a distinct language.  Greenberg (1987) fits Muskogean within a Penutian branch of the Amerind family.  Greenberg (1987: 379-86) provides the tree in Figure 1 [only relevant portions of the classification are presented here]:

Figure 1. Classification of Chickasaw
1. Amerind
a. Northern Amerind

                                                     i.     Almosan-Keresiouan
                                                      ii.     Penutian
1.     Yuki-Gulf
a.     Muskogean
                                                                                                           i.     Chickasaw, Choctaw, Alabama, Creek, Hitchiti, Koasati, Muscogee
b.     Atakapa
c.     Chitimach
d.     Natchez
e.     Tunica
f.      Yukian
2.     Californian
3.     Chinook
4.     Mexican
5.     Oregon
6.     Plateau
7.     Tsimshian
8.     Zuni
                                                        iii.     Hokan
b. Central Amerind, Chibchan-Paezan, Andean, Equatorial-Tucanoan, Ge-Pano-Carib

This grouping, however, is far from agreed upon.  Ruhlen (1987) follows Greenberg's basic shape, however, Lyovin (1997) keeps Muskogean as a separate language family.  Greenberg's use of a Gulf family is largely based on Haas (1951) who attempted to establish this grouping of Muskogean with Natchez, Chitimach, Atakapa, and Tunica.  However, Haas (1979) largely repudiates this Gulf grouping and renders Muskogean as an independent family again with the others as isolates.  Greenberg and Ruhlen are also at odds with Sapir (1929) who puts the Muskogean family in an Eastern Group of Hokan-Siouan.
            The other issue of debate is whether or not Chickasaw is a dialect of Choctaw.  As far back as Gatschet (1884), Chickasaw was listed as one dialect among many of Choctaw.  Pulte (1975) argues for a single Chickasaw-Choctaw language making up the Western Muskogean family.  (All other Muskogean languages are placed in an Eastern Muskogean grouping.) There is no doubt that Choctaw and Chickasaw are closely related genetically, as well as sources of borrowing from one another to the present day.  Munro and Willmond (1994)'s Chickasaw Analytic Dictionary discusses words which sound "properly" like Choctaw words to a Chickasaw speaker, and thus not considered true Chickasaw.  Gordon (2005) mentions that some Choctaw speakers report Chickasaw to be unintelligible. Whether or not Chickasaw and Choctaw are dialects or separate languages, they are considered separate languages to native speakers due to centuries old cultural and political divisions (Pulte 1975).
            Numfor is a language of Bird's Head and the islands of Cenderawasih Bay in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, also known as West Papua.  Gordon (2005) identifies Numfor with the language of Biak, though he mentions that some consider Numfor a separate language from Biak.  All data located about Numfor, however, always treat Numfor and Biak simultaneously.  This brief description follows that pattern, and Biak will sometimes be used as a name for Numfor here.
            Biak-Numfor is spoken primarily in the Biak-Numfor Regency, a political entity within Irian Jaya, Indonesia. It is composed of several islands, including Biak, Numfor and Yapen, with Biak both the largest and most populous. Gordon (2005) identifies approximately 30,000 speakers of Biak.  (Berry and Berry 1987) also identify approximately 1000 Biak speakers in the West Bird's Head villages of Sausapar and Werur Kecil with Biak speakers making up about 50% of Sausapar and the entire village of Werur Kecil.  They report that the Biak speakers are relatively fluent in Indonesian compared to the Abun speakers with whom they live.
Biak is the native language of this well-defined community of speakers.  I was not able to determine whether Biak was an official language of the Biak-Numfor Regency or not, though it is not a national language of Indonesia.  There have been demonstrations for West Papuan independence with sometimes violent confrontations with Indonesian military forces. (Human Rights Watch, 1998)
            Cappel (1969) identifies Biak as an Austronesian language of West Papua but goes no further in its classification.  Gordon (2005) creates the classification in Figure 2 [only relevant portions of the classification are presented here]:
Figure 2. Classification of Biak-Numfor
1. Austronesian
a. Malayo-Polynesian

                                                     i.     Central-Eastern
1.     Eastern Malayo-Polynesian
a.     South Halmahera – West New Guinea
                                                                                                           i.     West New Guinea
1.     Cenderawasih Bay
a.     Biakic
                                                                                                                                                                 i.     Biak-Numfor
                                                                                                                                                                  ii.     Dusnor
                                                                                                                                                                    iii.     Meoswar
b.     Iresim
c.     Mor
d.     Raja Ampat
e.     Tandia
f.      Waropen
g.     Yapen
h.     Yaur
i.      Yeretuar
                                                                                                            ii.     South Halmahera
b.     Oceanic

Berry, K. and C. Berry. 1987. "A survey of some West Papuan phylum languages." Workpapers in Indonesian Languages and Cultures 4; 25-80.
Capell, A. 1969. A Survey of New Guinea Languages. Sydney: Sydney University Press.
Crawford, J. 1975.  "Southeastern Indian Languages," in Studies in Southeastern Indian Languages, ed. by Crawford, J.  Athens: The University of Georgia Press.
Foley, W. 1986. The Papuan Languages of New Guinea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gatschet, A. 1884. "A migration legend of the Creek Indians," vol.1 Brinton's Library of Aboriginal American Literature, Number 4. Philadephia.
Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.),  2005.  Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition.  Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: .
Greenberg, J.H. 1987.  Language in the Americas. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Haas, M. 1941. "The classification of the Muskogean Languages" in Language, Culture, and Personality, Essays in Honor of Edward Sapir, ed. by Spier, L., A. Hallowell, and S. Newman, pp. 41-56. Menasha, Wisconsin.
Haas, M. 1958.  "A new linguistic relationship in North America: Algonkian and the Gulf languages," in SJA, 14: 231-64.
Haas, M. 1979. " Southeastern Languages" in The Languages of North America: Historical and Comparative Assessment, ed. by Cambell, L and M. Mithun.  Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.
Human Rights Watch. 1998. "Indonesia: Human rights and pro-independence actions in Irian Jaya."
Lyovin, A. 1997. An Introduction to the Languages of the World. New York: Oxford University Press.
Munro, P. and C. Willmond. 1994. Chickasaw: An Analytic Dictionary.  Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press.
Powell, J. 1880.  Introduction to the Study of Indian Languages, with Words, Phrases, and Sentences to be Collected, 2nd Edition.  Washington: Bureau of Ethnology.
Pulte, W. 1975. "The position of Chickasaw in Western Muskogean," in Studies in Southeastern Indian Languages, ed. by Crawford, J.  Athens: The University of Georgia Press.
Ruhlen, M. 1987. A Guide to the World's Languages, Vol. 1: Classification. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Sapir, E. 1929. "Central and North American languages." Encyclopedia Britannica 14th Edition, 5: 138-141.

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