Linguistic Paleontology and Migration

Jane H. Hill

in Rethinking Anthropological Perspectives on Migration

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780813036076
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041780 | DOI:
Linguistic Paleontology and Migration

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This chapter uses the methods of linguistic paleontology including lexical reconstruction and identification of loan words to suggest migration routes for the dispersal of the Uto-Aztecan languages. Reconstructed plant names and maize vocabulary, as well as probable loan words from Otomanguean languages, suggest a homeland on the northwest fringe of Mesoamerica. The chapter focuses on a migration of speakers of Takic languages, a subgroup of Northern Uto-Aztecan, into California. Plant names inherited in Takic from Proto-Northern Uto-Aztecan suggest a homeland including the western drainages of the Colorado River. Plant names traceable only to Proto-Takic suggest a hot desert environment, probably the Mojave Desert. Plant names reconstructable only to Proto-Cupan, the ancestor of the Cupan languages (a Takic subgroup) suggest a homeland in the Coast Ranges of California. The appearance of new sets of plant names at each level of subgrouping are consistent with the recognition of new environments by migrants speaking Uto-Aztecan languages.

Keywords: Uto-Aztecan; Otomanguean; Northern Uto-Aztecan; Takic; Cupan; California; Mesoamerica; plant names; Lexical reconstruction; Mojave Desert; Colorado River; migration

Chapter.  6079 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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