Macro-Siouan languages


Macro-Siouan languages

      major grouping (phylum or superstock) of North American Indian languages; it is made up of 26 languages, grouped into 5 families: Siouan, with 12 languages; Catawba, with 1 language; Iroquoian, with 8 languages; Caddoan, with 4 languages; and Yuchi, with 1 language. Prior to European settlement, the Macro-Siouan languages were spoken in what are now the eastern United States and Canada from southern Ontario through New York state and into the southern Appalachians and in the Great Plains from Montana to Wisconsin and south into Texas and Arkansas.

      The major languages of the phylum are Dakota (Sioux), spoken by Indians in the northern Great Plains region, and Crow, spoken in eastern Montana; these are of the Siouan language family. The Seneca, Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, and Onondaga dialects (of the Iroquois Nation tribes of the same names) are spoken in New York state. Cherokee is spoken in the southern Appalachians and Oklahoma. These are Iroquoian languages.

      Characteristic of these languages is the frequent use of prefixes and of some suffixes and infixes. Infixes are sounds or sequences of sounds that are inserted within the word rather than attached to the beginning or end. For example, in Dakota the verb “to walk” is mani, and -wa-, an infix, means “I”; thus, “I walk” is ma-wa-ni. Some compound words are also used, and words are often composed of a series of semi-independent units. Pronouns are generally indicated by prefixes, although infixes are used sometimes, as in the example.

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Universalium. 2010.

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