Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yurok Language

Norman Muller writes:
I received this reply from Andrew Garrett, Professor of Linguistics and Director, Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, University of California, Berkeley, in reply to the question where did the Algonquian language originate? Thought you might be interested.

No, the more accurate way of describing the matter is to say that the Algonquian languages, as a family, are related to the Yurok language and to its immediate neighbor (in California) the Wiyot language. The three together, Wiyot plus Yurok plus Algonquian, have roughly the kind of relationship that Celtic languages plus Romance languages plus Germanic languages respectively have (except as if there would be one "Celtic" and one "Romance" language in this case). The more standard view as to place of origin is that the location of the ancestral population was somewhere in the upper Snake River basin, near where Washington, Oregon, and Idaho now converge; the people who spoke a language ancestral to Algonquian languages headed east (including to the St Lawrence basin) and the people who spoke languages ancestral to Wiyot and Yurok headed down the Snake and Columbia rivers to the Pacific coast, three or four thousand years ago. (The wikipedia page for "Algic languages" is not inaccurate, though it does not have up-to-date bibliography, or see pp. 72ff of the following:

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