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Title: A Record of Study in Aboriginal American Languages

Author: Daniel G. Brinton

Release date: February 22, 2010 [eBook #31351]
Most recently updated: January 6, 2021

Language: English

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Transcriber’s Note

A number of typographical errors have been maintained in this version of this book. They are marked and the corrected text is shown in the popup. A description of the errors is found in the list at the end of the text. Inconsistent spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization have been maintained.



Professor of American Archæology and Linguistics in the
University of Pennsylvania

Printed for Private Distribution
MEDIA, PA., 1898


The New Era Printing Company,
Lancaster, Pa.



If this review of my own work in the field of American Linguistics requires an apology, I may say that the preparation of it was suggested to me by my late friend, Mr. James Constantine Pilling, whose admirable volumes on the bibliography of American Aboriginal Languages are familiar to all students. He had experienced the difficulty of cataloguing the articles of writers whose contributions extend over many years, and have been published in different journals, proceedings of societies and volumes, and was impressed with the advantage of an analytical list composed by the author himself.

With this in view, I have arranged the present survey of my writings in this branch of science, extending over a period of two score years. They are grouped geographically, and sufficient reference to their contents subjoined to indicate their aims and conclusions.

D. G. Brinton.

Media, Penna., November, 1898.



I. General Articles and Works.

1. The Philosophic Grammar of American Languages as set forth by Wilhelm von Humboldt; with the translation of an unpublished Memoir by him on the American Verb. pp. 51. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1885.

2. On Polysynthesis and Incorporation as characteristics of American Languages. pp. 41. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1885.

3. Characteristics of American Languages. American Antiquarian, January, 1894.

4. On certain morphologic traits in American Languages. American Antiquarian, October, 1894.

5. On various supposed relations between the American and Asiatic Races. Memoirs of the International Congress of Anthropology, 1893.

6. The Present Status of American Linguistics. Memoirs of the International Congress of Anthropology, 1893.

7. American Languages and why we should Study them. An address delivered before the Pennsylvania Historical Society. pp. 23. In Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1885.

8. The Rate of Change in American Languages. In Science, Vol. X., 1887.

9. Traits of Primitive Speech, illustrated from American languages. In Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, August, 1888.

10. The Language of Palæolithic Man. pp. 14. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, October, 1888.

11. The American Race: A Linguistic Classification and Ethnographic Description of the Native Tribes of North and South America. pp. 392. New York, 1891.

12. The Standard Dictionary (Indian Words in). New York, 1894.

13. Aboriginal American Authors and their Productions, especially those in the Native Languages. pp. 63. Philadelphia, 1883.

14. American Aboriginal Poetry. pp. 21. In Proceedings of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia, 1883.

15. The Conception of Love in some American Languages. pp. 18. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, November, 1886.

The earlier numbers, (1-4,) in the above list are occupied with the inquiry whether the native American languages, as a group, have peculiar morphological traits, which justify their classification as one of the great divisions of human speech. In this[6] question, I have been a disciple of Wilhelm von Humboldt and Professor H. Steinthal, and have argued that the phenomenon of Incorporation, in some of its forms, is markedly present in the vast majority, if not in all, American tongues. That which has been called “polysynthesis” is one of these forms. This is nothing more than a familiar, nigh universal, grammatic process carried to an extreme degree. It is the dvanda of the Sanscrit grammarians, an excellent study of which has recently appeared from the pen of Dr. H. C. Müller.6-1 In its higher forms Incorporation subordinates the nominal concepts of the phrase to those of time and relation, which are essentially verbal, and this often where the true verbal concept, that of abstract action, is lacking, and the verb itself is in reality a noun in the possessive relation.6-2

Even extremely simple American languages, such as the Zoque, display the tendency to energetic synthesis;6-3 while many of them carry the incorporative quality to such a degree that the sentence becomes one word, a good example of which is the Micmac.6-4 Some American and French writers have misunderstood the nature of this trait, and have denied it; but the student who acquaints himself thoroughly with the authors above mentioned, will not be misled.6-5

The MS. of the Memoir by W. von Humboldt I obtained from the Berlin Library. Even Professor Steinthal, in his edition of Humboldt’s linguistic Works, had overlooked it. It is a highly philosophic analysis of the verb, as it occurs in the languages of the following tribes: Abipones, Achaguas, Betoyas, Caribs, Huastecas, Lules, Maipures, Mayas, Mbayas, Mexicans[7] (Nahuas), Mixtecas, Mocovis, Omaguas, Otomis, Tamanacas, Totonacos, Tupis, Yaruros.

In (5) I have examined the various alleged affiliations between American and Asiatic tongues, and showed they are wholly unfounded.

In (7) I have entered a plea for more attention to American languages. Not only for ethnographic purposes are they useful, but their primitive aspects and methods of presenting ideas enable us to solve psychological and grammatic problems more completely than other tongues.

In support of this, in (9) and (10), I endeavor to outline what must have been the morphology of the language which man spoke when in the very beginning of his existence as man; a speech of marvelous simplicity, but adapted to his wants.

The volume, of nearly four hundred pages, entitled The American Race (No. 11) was the first attempt at a systematic classification of all the tribes of America, North, Central and South, on the basis of language. It defines seventy-nine linguistic stocks in North America and sixty-one in South America. The number of tribes named and referred to these stocks is nearly sixteen hundred. Several of these stocks are defined for the first time, such as the Tequistlatecan of Mexico, the Matagalpan of Central America, and in South America the Timote, the Paniquita, the Cocanuca, the Mocoa, the Betoya, the Lamuca, etc.

In the article (8) I show that, contrary to an oft expressed opinion, the rate of change in these unwritten tongues is remarkably slow, not greater than in cultivated languages.

When the publishers of the Standard Dictionary (New York, 1895) were preparing that well-known work, they placed in my hands all the words in the English language derived from the native tongues of America. Although the etymology of some of them remains obscure, I believe the derivation of all positively traced will be found presented.

I early became convinced that the translations of books of devotion, etc., into the native tongues gave no correct impression of those tongues. The ideas conveyed were foreign to the primitive mind, and the translations were generally by foreigners who[8] had not completely mastered the idioms. Hence, the only true reflex of a language is in the words and thoughts of the natives themselves, in their indigenous literature.

This led me to project the publication of a series of volumes containing writings, preferably on secular subjects, by natives in their own languages. That there is such a literature I undertook to show in (13) and (14). The former was the expansion of a paper presented to the International Congress of Americanists at Copenhagen. It contains a list of native American authors and notices of a number of their works composed in their own tongues. That on “aboriginal poetry” vindicates for native American bards a respectable position among lyric and dramatic composers.

That some of the central subjects of poetic literature—the emotions of love and friendship—exist, and often in no low form of sentiment, among these natives, I have undertaken to show by an analysis of a number of terms expressing these feelings in five leading American linguistic stocks, the Algonkin, Nahuatl, Maya, Quechua and Tupi (No. 15).

Following out this plan, I began in 1882 the publication of “The Library of Aboriginal American Literature.” Each volume was to contain a work composed in a native tongue by a native; but those based upon foreign inspiration, such as sermons, etc., were to be excluded. Each was to be translated and edited with sufficient completeness to make it available for the general student.

Of this “Library” eight volumes were issued, the first in 1882, the eighth in 1890, when I ceased the publication, not from lack of material, but because I had retired in 1887 from my connection with the publishing business and became more engaged in general anthropological pursuits.

The “Library,” as issued, contains the following numbers:

No. I. The Chronicles of the Mayas. Edited by Daniel G. Brinton, M. D. 279 pages. 1882.

This volume contains five brief chronicles in the Maya language, written shortly after the conquest, and carrying the history of that people back many centuries. To these is added a history of the conquest, written in his native tongue, by a Maya chief, in 1562. This interesting account has been published separately, with an ex[9]cellent grammatical and lexical analysis by the Count de Charencey, under the title Chrestomathie Maya, d’après la Chronique de Chac-Xulub-Chen (Paris, 1891). The texts are preceded by an introduction on the history of the Mayas, their language, calendar, numerical system, etc.; and a vocabulary is added at the close.

No. II. The Iroquois Book of Rites. Edited by Horatio Hale. 222 pages. 1883.

This work contains, in the Mohawk and Onondaga languages, the speeches, songs and rituals with which a deceased chief was lamented and his successor installed in office. The introduction treats of the ethnology and history of the Huron-Iroquois. A map, notes and glossary complete the work.

No. III. The Comedy-Ballet of Güegüence. Edited by Daniel G. Brinton, M. D. 146 pages. 1883.

A curious and unique specimen of the native comic dances, with dialogues, called bailes, formerly common in Central America. It is in the mixed Nahuatl-Spanish jargon of Nicaragua, and shows distinctive features of native authorship. The introduction treats of the ethnology of Nicaragua, and the local dialects, musical instruments and dramatic representations. A map and a number of illustrations are added.

No. IV. A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians. Edited by A. S. Gatschet. 251 pages. 1884.

Offers a survey of the ethnology of the native tribes of the Gulf States. The legend told to Governor Oglethorpe, in 1732, by the Creeks, is given in the original.

No. V. The Lenâpé and Their Legends. Edited by Daniel G. Brinton, M. D. 262 pages. 1885.

Contains the complete text and symbols, 184 in number, of the “Walum Olum,” or “Red Score,” of the Delaware Indians, with the full original text, and a new translation, notes and vocabulary. A lengthy introduction treats of the Lenâpé or Delawares, their history, customs, myths, language, etc., with numerous references to other tribes of the great Algonkin stock.

No. VI. The Annals of the Cakchiquels. Edited by Daniel G. Brinton, M. D. 234 pages. 1885.

The original text, written about 1562, by a member of the reigning family, with a translation, introduction, notes and vocabulary. This may be considered one of the most important historical documents relating to the pre-Columbian period.


No. VII. Ancient Nahuatl Poetry. Edited by Daniel G. Brinton, M. D. 176 pages. 1890.

In this volume twenty-seven songs in the original Nahuatl are presented, with translation, notes, vocabulary, etc. Many of them date from before the conquest and none later than the sixteenth century. The introduction describes the ancient poetry of the Nahuas in all its bearings.

No. VIII. Rig Veda Americanus. Edited by Daniel G. Brinton, M. D. 95 pages. 1890.

Presents the original text with a gloss in Nahuatl of twenty sacred chants of the ancient Mexicans. They are preserved in the Madrid MSS. of Father Sahagun, and date anterior to the Conquest. A paraphrase, notes and a vocabulary are added, and a number of curious illustrations are reproduced from the original.

The edition of each of these was about 400 copies, except No. II., of which 900 were printed. A complete set is now difficult to obtain.

II. North American Languages North of Mexico.

16. Lenâpé-English Dictionary. From an anonymous MS. in the archives of the Moravian Church at Bethlehem, Pa., with additions, by Daniel G. Brinton and Rev. Albert Seqaqkind Anthony, 4to, pp. 326. Philadelphia, 1888. Published by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

17. The Lenâpé and their Legends; with the complete Text and Symbols of the Walum Olum, a new Translation and an Inquiry into its Authenticity. pp. 262. Illustrated. Philadelphia, 1885.

18. Lenâpé Conversations. In American Journal of Folk-Lore, Vol. I.

19. The Shawnees and their Migrations. In American Historical Magazine, January, 1866.

20. The Chief God of the Algonkins, in his Character as a Cheat and Liar. In the American Antiquarian, May, 1885.

21. On certain supposed Nanticoke words shown to be of African origin. American Antiquarian, 1887.

22. Vocabulary of the Nanticoke dialect. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, November, 1893.

23. The Natchez of Louisiana, an Offshoot of the Civilized Nations of Central America. In the Historical Magazine (New York), for January, 1867.

24. On the Language of the Natchez. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, December, 1873.

25. Grammar of the Choctaw Language. By the Rev. Cyrus Byington. Edited from the original MS. by D. G. Brinton. pp. 56. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1870.[11]

26. Contributions to a Grammer of the Muskokee Language. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, March, 1870.

27. The Floridian Peninsula, its Literary History, Indian Tribes, and Antiquities. 8vo, cloth, pp. 202. Philadelphia, 1859.

28. The Taensa Grammar and Dictionary. A deception exposed. In American Antiquarian, March, 1885.

29. The Taensa Grammar and Dictionary. A reply to M. Lucien Adam. In American Antiquarian, September, 1885.

Within the area of the United States, my articles have been confined practically to two groups, the Algonkian dialects and those spoken in Florida and the Gulf States.

The Delaware Indians or Lenni Lenâpé, who occupied the valley of the Delaware River and the land east of it to the ocean, although long in peaceful association with the white settlers, were never studied, linguistically, except by the Moravian missionaries, in the latter half of the eighteenth century. In examining the MSS. in the Moravian Church at Bethlehem, Pa., I discovered a MS. dictionary of their tongue, containing about 4,300 words. This I had carefully copied, and induced a native Delaware, an educated clergyman of the English Church, the Rev. Albert Seqaqkind Anthony, to pass a fortnight at my house, going over it with me, word by word. The MS. thus revised, was published by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania as the first number of its “Student Series.” Various interesting items illustrating the beliefs and customs of the Delawares of the present day, communicated to me by Mr. Anthony, I collected into the article (18), “Lenâpé Conversations.”

A few years previous I had succeeded in obtaining the singular MS. referred to by C. S. Rafinesque, in 1836, as the “Painted Record” of the Delaware Indians, the Walum Olum, properly, “painted” or “red” “score.” This I reproduced in No. 17, with the accessories mentioned above (p. 9). There is no doubt of the general authenticity of this record. A corroboration of it was sent me in March of this year (1898) by Dr. A. S. Gatschet, of the U. S. Bureau of American Ethnology. He writes:

“When the Delaware delegate, Johnnycake, was here for the last time, he told Mr. J. B. N. Hewitt (also attached to the Bureau) that some of the Lenâpé Indians, near Nowata, Cherokee Nation, had seen your publication on the Walum Olum. They[12] belong to the oldest men of that tribe, and stated that the text was all right, and that they remembered the songs from their youth. They could give many additions, and said that a few passages were in the wrong order and had to be placed elsewhere to give them the full meaning they were intended to convey.”

This was cheering confirmation to me that my labor had not been expended on a fantastic composition of Rafinesque’s, as some have been inclined to think.

Some years ago I contemplated the publication of a work through the American Folklore Society on Algonquian Mythology. Various reasons led me to lay it aside. Part of the material was introduced into my works on the general mythology of the American tribes,12-1 and one fragment appeared in (20) in which I offered a psychological explanation of the character of the hero god Gluscap, so prominent in the legends of the Micmacs and Abenakis. At that time I was not acquainted with the ingenious suggestions on the etymology of the name subsequently advocated by the native author, Joseph Nicolar.12-2

The Nanticokes lived on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. In collecting their vocabularies I found one alleged to have been obtained from them, but differing completely from the Algonquian dialects. It had been partly printed by Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton,12-3 but remained a puzzle. My article (21) proves that it belongs to the Mandingo language of western Africa. It was doubtless obtained from some negro slave.

The Nanticoke vocabulary (22) was secured in 1792 for Mr. Thomas Jefferson. I give the related terms in the other dialects of the stock.

The Natchez are an interesting people of whose rites we have strange accounts from the early French explorers. Their language is a small stock by itself. At one time I thought it related to the Maya (23); but this is probably an error. In (24) I printed a vocabulary of words obtained for me from a native, together with some slight grammatical material.

[13]The Taensas were a branch of the Natchez, speaking the same tongue; but in 1881, J. Parisot presented an article of half a dozen pages to the International Congress of Americanists on what he called the “Hastri or Taensa Language,” totally different from the Natchez.13-1 Subsequently this was expanded to a volume, and appeared as Tome IX. of the Bibliothêque Linguistique Américaine (Maisonneuve et Cie, Paris) introduced by the well-known scholars Lucien Adam and Albert S. Gatschet.

It passed unchallenged until 1885, when I proved conclusively that the whole was a forgery of some young seminarists, and had been palmed off on these unsuspecting scientists out of a pleasure in mystification (28). As I have given the details elsewhere, I shall not repeat them.13-2

The works of Pareja in the Timuquana tongue of Florida were unknown to linguists when, in 1859, I published the little volume (27). In it, however, I called attention to them, and from the scanty references in Hervas expressed the opinion that it might be related to the Carib. This was an error, as no such affinity appears on the fuller examination of the tongue now possible, since Pareja’s grammar has been republished,13-3 and texts of the Timuquana have been reproduced by Buckingham Smith.13-4 The language stands alone, an independent stock.

III. Mexican and Central American Languages.

30. The Native Calendar of Central America and Mexico. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, November, 1893.

31. The Lineal Measures of the Semi-civilized Nations of Mexico and Central America. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, January, 1885.

32. On the Chontallis and Popolucas. In the Compte Rendu du Congrés des Américanistes, 1890.

33. The Study of the Nahuatl Language. In the American Antiquarian, January, 1886.

[14]34. The Written Language of the Ancient Mexicans. In Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 1889.

35. The ancient phonetic alphabet of Yucatan. In American Historical Magazine, 1870.

36. The Graphic System and ancient Records of the Mayas. In Contributions to American Ethnology, Vol. V., Washington, 1882.

37. The Phonetic Elements in the Graphic Systems of the Mayas and Mexicans. In American Antiquarian, November, 1886.

38. On the “Ikonomatic” Method of Phonetic Writing. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1886.

39. A Primer of Mayan Hieroglyphics. pp. 152. Boston, 1895.

40. What the Mayan Inscriptions tell about. In American Archæologist, 1894.

41. On the “Stone of the Giants” near Orizaba, Mexico. In Proceedings of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia, 1889.

42. On the Nahuatl version of Sahagun’s Historia de la Nueva España, at Madrid. In the Compte Rendu of the Congrés International des Americanistes, 7eme Session.

43. On the words “Anahuac” and “Nahuatl.” In American Antiquarian, November, 1893.

44. On the so-called Alagüilac Language of Guatemala. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, November, 1887.

45. The Güegüence; a Comedy Ballet in the Nahuatl-Spanish Dialect of Nicaragua. pp 94. Philadelphia, 1883.

46. Ancient Nahuatl Poetry; Containing the Nahuatl Text of Twenty-seven Ancient Mexican Poems; With Translation, Introduction, Notes and Vocabulary. pp. 177. 1887.

47. Rig Veda Americanus. Sacred Songs of the Ancient Mexicans, with a Gloss in Nahuatl. With Paraphrase, Notes and Vocabulary. pp. 95. Illustrated. Philadelphia, 1890.

48. A notice of some Manuscripts of Central American Languages. In the American Journal of Science and Arts (New Haven), March, 1869.

49. The Maya Chronicles. pp. 279. Philadelphia, 1882.

50. The Books of Chilan Balam, the Prophetic and Historic Records of the Mayas of Yucatan. In the Penn Monthly, March, 1882.

51. The Names of the Gods in the Kiche Myths. pp. 38. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1881.

52. On the Chane-abal (Four-Language) Tribe and Dialect of Chiapas. In the American Anthropologist, January, 1888.

53. A Grammar of the Cakchiquel Language of Guatemala. Translated from an Ancient Spanish MS., with an Introduction and numerous Additions. pp. 67. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1884.

54. The Annals of the Cakchiquels. The Original text, with a Translation, Notes and Introduction. pp. 234. Illustrated. Philadelphia, 1885.

[15]55. On some Affinities of the Otomi and Tinné Stocks. International Congress of Americanists, 1894.

56. Observations on the Chinantec Language of Mexico and the Mazatec Language and its Affinities. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1892.

57. Notes on the Mangue dialect. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, November, 1885.

58. On the Xinca Indians of Guatemala. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, October, 1884.

59. The Ethnic Affinities of the Guetares of Costa Rica. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, December, 1897.

60. On the Matagalpan Linguistic Stock of Central America. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, December, 1895.

61. Some Vocabularies from the Mosquito Coast. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, March, 1891.

The Popol Vuh, or “sacred book” of the Quiches of Guatemala was published by the Abbé Brasseur in 1861. The study (51) is an effort to analyze the names of the gods which it contains and to extract their symbolic significance.

The Chane-abal dialect of Chiapas (52) is a mixed jargon, the component elements of which I have endeavored to set forth from MS. material collected by Dr. Berendt.

Another language of Chiapas is the “Chapanecan.” In (57) and also in the introduction to (45) I have shown, from unpublished sources, its close relationship to the Mangue of Nicaragua.

The Mazatec language of Oaxaca, is examined for the first time in (56) from material supplied me by Mr. A. Pinart. It is shown to have relations with the Chapanecan and others with Costa Rican tongues.

The article on the Chinantec, (56) a little-known tongue of Oaxaca, is an analysis of its forms and a vocabulary from the Doctrina of Father Barreda and notes of Dr. Berendt.

The Cakchiquels occupied most of the soil of Guatemala at the period of the Conquest, and their tongue was that chosen to be the “Metropolitan” language of the diocess. In (53) I gave a translation of an unpublished grammar of it, the MS. being one in the archives of the American Philosophical Society. In some respects it is superior to the grammar of Flores.

The higher culture of the tribes of Central America and Mexico gives a special interest to the study of their languages, oral[16] and written; for with some of them we find moderately well-developed methods of recording ideas.

Much of this culture was intimately connected with their astrological methods and these with their calendar. This remarkable artificial computation of time, based on the relations of the numerals 13 and 20 applied to various periods, was practically the same among the Mayas, Nahuas, Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Chapanecs, Otomis and Tarascos—seven different linguistic stocks—and unknown elsewhere on the globe. The study of it (30) is exclusively from its linguistic and symbolic side.

It is strange that nowhere in North America was any measure of weight known to the natives. Their lineal measures were drawn chiefly from the proportions of the human body. They are investigated in (31).

Under the names Chontalli and Popoluca, both Nahuatl words indicating “foreigners,” ethnographers have included tribes of wholly diverse lineage. In (32) I have shown that some are Tzentals, others Tequistlatecas, Ulvas, Mixes, Zapotecs, Nahuas, Lencas and Cakchiquels, thus doing away with the confusion introduced by these inappropriate ethnic terms.

No. (33) is an article for the use of students of the Nahuatl language, mentioning the principal grammars, dictionaries and text-books which are available.

The numbers (34), (35), (36), (37), (38), (39), (40) and (41), are devoted to the methods of writing invented by the cultured natives of Mexico and Central America in order to preserve their literature, such as it was. The methods are various, that of the Nahuas not being identical with that of the Mayas. The former is largely phonetic, but in a peculiar manner, for which I have proposed the term of “ikonomatic,” the principle being that of the rebus. That this method can be successfully applied to the decipherment of inscriptions I demonstrated in the translation of one which is quite celebrated, the “Stone of the Giants” at Orizaba, Mexico (41). The translation I proposed has been fully accepted.16-1

The “Primer of Mayan Hieroglyphics” (39) was intended[17] as a summary of what had been achieved up to that time (1895) by students in this branch. It endeavored, moreover, to render to each student the credit of his independent work; and as, unfortunately, some, notably in Germany, had put forward as their own what belonged to others of earlier date, the book naturally was not very well treated by such reviewers. Its aim, however, to present a concise and fair statement of what had been accomplished in its field up to the date of its publication was generally conceded to have been attained.

Much of the considerable manuscript material which I have accumulated on the languages of this section of the continent was obtained from the collections of the late Dr. Carl Hermann Berendt and the Abbé E. C. Brasseur (de Bourbourg).

When in Spain, in 1888, I found in the Royal Library the MS. of the earlier portion of Sahagun’s “History of New Spain” in Nahuatl. I described it in (42).

The term “Anahuac” has long been applied to the territory of Mexico. Dr. E. Seler, of Berlin, published an article asserting that this was an error, and devoid of native authority. In (43) I pointed out that in this he was wrong, as early Nahuatl records use it in this sense.

The Alaguilac language of Guatemala, long a puzzle to linguistics, is shown in (44) to be an isolated dialect of the Nahuatl.

Nos. (45), (46), (47), (49) and (54), have been already mentioned.

The term Chilan balam, which may be freely rendered “the inspired speaker,” was the title of certain priests of the native Mayas. Many records in the Maya tongue, written after the conquests, go by the name of “the Books of Chilan Balam.” They have never been published, but copies of them, made by Dr. Berendt, are in my possession. Their purpose and contents were described in (50).

There are reasons for believing that previous to the arrival of the Cakchiquels in Guatemala its area was largely peopled by Xincas. Of this little-known stock I present in (58) three extended vocabularies, from unpublished sources, with comments on the “culture-words.”

Some apparent but no decisive affinities between the Otomi of[18] Mexico and the Tinné or Athapascan dialects are shown in (55); and in (59) the ancient Guetares of Costa Rica are proved, on linguistic evidence, to have been members of the Talamancan linguistic stock.

The Matagalpan is an interesting family, first defined in The American Race, and in (60) more fully discussed, as they survive in San Salvador.

In (61) some unpublished vocabularies from the tribe of the Ramas, on the Mosquito coast, place them as members of the Changuina stock, most of whom dwelt on the Isthmus of Panama.

IV. South American and Antillean Languages.

62. Remarks on the MS. Arawack Vocabulary of Schultz. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1869.

63. The Arawack Language of Guiana in its Linguistic and Ethnological Relations. In Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 1871.

64. Studies in South American Languages. pp. 67. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1892.

65. Some words from the Andagueda dialect of the Choco stock. In Proceedings of American Philosophical Society, November, 1897.

66. Vocabulary of the Noanama dialect of the Choco stock. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, November, 1896.

67. Note on the Puquina Language of Peru. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, November, 1890.

68. Further Notes on the Betoya dialects. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, October, 1892.

69. The Linguistic Cartography of the Chaco Region. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, October, 1898.

70. Further Notes on Fuegian Languages. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1892.

71. On two recent, unclassified Vocabularies from South America. In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, October, 1898.

The library of the American Philosophical Society contains a MS. copy of the Arawack vocabulary of the missionary Schultz, the same work, apparently, which was edited from another copy by M. Lucien Adam in 1882. A study of this MS. led me to discover the identity of the so-called “Lucayan” of the Bahamas, the language of Cuba, fragments of which have been presented, and the “Taino” of Haiti, with the Arawack. They had previ[19]ously been considered either of Mayan or Caribbean affinities. The results are presented in (63).

The “Studies” in (64) are ten in number. No. I. is on the Tacana language and its dialects, and is the only attempt, up to the present time, to determine the boundaries and character of this tongue. Texts and a vocabulary in five of its dialects are given. No. II. is on the Jivaro or Xebero tongue, and is entirely from unpublished sources. A grammatical sketch, texts and a vocabulary give a moderately complete material for comparison. No. III. presents the first printed account of the Cholona language on the River Huallaga, drawn from MSS. in the British Museum. In No. IV. is a discussion of the relations of the Leca language spoken on the Rio Mapiri. No. V. contains a text of some length in the Manao dialect of the Arawack stock, the original MS. being in the British Museum. The Bonaris are an extinct tribe of the Carib stock. No. VI. contains the only vocabulary which has been preserved of their dialect. On a loose sheet in the British Museum, among papers on Patagonia, I found a short vocabulary in a tongue called “Hongote,” which I could not locate and hence published it in No. VII. It subsequently proved to be one of the North Pacific Coast languages. The same “Study” presents a comparative vocabulary in fourteen Patagonian dialects, with notes (Tsoneca, Tehuelche, Puelche, Tekennika (Yahgan), Alikuluf, etc.). In Study No. VIII. are discussed the various dialects of the Kechua or Quichua tongue of Peru, with an unpublished text from the Pacasa dialect. No. IX. examines the affinities which have been noted between the languages of North and South America, especially in the Mazatec and Costa Rican dialects of the northern Continent. Finally, No. X. aims to define for the first time the linguistic stock to which belong the dialects of the Betoyas, Tucanos, Zeonas and other tribes on the rivers Napo, Meta, Apure and their confluents. Further information on this stock is given in (68).

The Choco stock extends widely over the northwest angle of the southern continent. In (65) and (66) I have printed short vocabularies of some of its dialects secured for me from living natives by Mr. Henry G. Granger.

[20]The Puquina language of Peru was quite unknown to linguists when, in 1890, I published the article (67) containing material in it from the extremely rare work of Geronimo de Ore, entitled Rituale Peruanum (Naples, 1607). Since then an extended essay upon it has been written by M. de la Grasserie.

In the “Further Notes on the Fuegian Languages” (70), I have printed an Alikuluf vocabulary of 1695, with comparisons, and given a vocabulary of the idiom of the Onas, pointing out some affinities with the Yahgan.

Few linguistic areas on the continent have been more obscure than that called “El Gran Chaco,” in northern Argentina and southern Bolivia. In (69) I have mapped the area from 20° to 30° south latitude and 56° to 66° west longitude, defining the boundaries of each of the seven linguistic stocks which occupied it, to wit, the Ennima, Guaycuru, Lule, Mataco, Quechua, Samucu and Tupi, with discussions of some uncertain dialects, as the Calchaqui, Lengua, Querandi, Charua, Payagua.

In (70) recent vocabularies of the Andoa and Cataquina tongues are examined and their linguistic relations discussed.

Many of the above articles, written previous to 1890, were collected by me in that year and published in a volume entitled “Essays of an Americanist” (pp. 489. Philadelphia). For the convenience of those who may wish to refer to them I add here a complete list of the essays which it contains.

Part I.Ethnologic and Archæologic.—A Review of the Data for the Study of the Prehistoric Chronology of America. On Palæoliths, American and others. On the alleged Mongolian Affinities of the American Race. The Probable Nationality of the Mound-Builders of the Ohio Valley. The Toltecs of Mexico and their Fabulous Empire.

Part II.Mythology and Folk-lore.—The Sacred Names in the Mythology of the Quiches of Guatemala. The Hero-God of the Algonkins as a Cheat and Liar. The Journey of the Soul in Egyptian, Aryan and American Mythology. The Sacred Symbols of the Cross, the Svastika and the Triqetrum in America. The Modern Folk-lore of the Natives of Yucatan. The Folk-lore of the Modern Lênapé Indians.

Part III.Graphic Systems and Literature.—The Phonetic Elements in the Hieroglyphs of the Mayas and Mexicans. The Ikonomatic Method of Phonetic Writing used by the Ancient Mexicans. The Writings and Records of the Ancient Mayas of Yucatan. The Books of Chilan[21] Balam, the Sacred Volume of the Modern Mayas. Translation of the Inscription on “The Stone of The Giants” at Orizaba, Mexico. The Poetry of the American Indians, with Numerous Examples.

Part IV.Linguistic.—American Aboriginal Languages, and why we should study them. Wilhelm von Humboldt’s Researches in American Languages. Some Characteristics of American Languages. The Earliest Form of Human Speech, as Revealed by American Languages. The Conception of Love, as expressed in some American Languages. The Lineal Measures of the Semi-Civilized Nations of Mexico and Central America. The Curious Hoax about the Taensa Language.

6-1 Beiträge zur Lehre der Wortzusammensetzung. Leiden. 1896.

6-2 In this connection I would refer students to an instructive passage of Heinrich Wrinkler on “Die Hauptformen in den Amerikanischen Sprachen,” in his work Zur Sprachgeschichte (Berlin, 1887) and to his essay on the Pokonchi Language in his Weiteres zur Sprachgeschichte, (Berlin, 1889).

6-3 See my remarks on this tongue in the American Anthropologist, August, 1898, p. 251.

6-4 Interesting examples in the Preface to S. T. Rand’s Micmac Dictionary (Halifax, 1888).

6-5 Notably with Steinthal’s Charakteristik des hauptsächlichsten Typen des Sprachbaues.

12-1 The Myths of the New World (third edition, 1896); American Hero Myths (1881).

12-2 Life and Traditions of the Red Man (Bangor, 1893).

12-3 New Views of the Origin of the Tribes of America (Philadelphia, 1798).

13-1 Actas del Congreso Internacional de Americanistas, Tom. II., pp. 310-315.

13-2 See the article “The Curious Hoax of the Taensa Language,” in my Essays of an Americanist, pp. 452-467. (Philadelphia, 1890.)

13-3 In Tome XI., of the Bibliothêque Linguistique Américaine.

13-4 Privately printed, 1867.

16-1 See Garrick Mallery in 10th Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, pp. 133, sqq. (Washington, 1893).



Transcriber’s Note

The following errors have been maintained in this version of the book.

Page Error Correction
6 The marker for footnote 6-2 was not printed and has been inserted based on context.
11 Grammer Grammar
23 Mosquito Coast Mosquito Coast, 15, 18
23 Muller Müller
23 Otomi, 7. Otomi, 7,