Exploring the Explanatory Power of Egyptian and Semitic in Uto-Aztecan
Excerpts from the 400-page book
Exploring the Explanatory Power of Egyptian and Semitic in Uto-Aztecan
by Brian D. Stubbs
Many unresolved questions in Uto-Aztecan (UA) have eluded linguists for the century since Sapir (1913, 1915) established UA as a language family, and while the language ties in this title may seem unseemly to some, they explain more of UA’s previous unknowns than many might be comfortable with initially. So take your time.
Uto-Aztecan consists of some 30 related languages in the western U.S. and western Mexico, from the Utes in the north to the Aztecs in the south. More than 1500 correlations between UA and Egyptian, Hebrew, and Aramaic, consistent with the linguistic comparative method, create a case stronger than the first accepted treatise establishing each Native American language family. Yet like all new knowledge that answers many questions, it also raises new questions.
Knowing how unwelcome such a proposal would be in the linguistic community and being a peace-loving recluse by nature, I was in no hurry to invite the avalanche of controversy upon me. However, equally risky is pressing my luck in postponing a presentation that should preferably occur on this side of the mortal divide. So as youth becomes a more distant memory, it is time to share these findings, which, as both a Semiticist and a Uto-Aztecanist, I could not help but notice. Such observations surfaced during a three-decade effort to write the reference book Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary (UACV, Stubbs 2011), favorably received among Uto-Aztecanists, though no two Uto-Aztecan specialists will agree on all aspects and reconstructions, as Kenneth Hill notes in a favorable review in the International Journal of American Linguistics (Hill 2012), and after any linguistic comparative work, adjustments inevitably follow. A case not valid will unravel with scrutiny, while truth is further substantiated with time, accumulating more and more supports.
The book is intended for linguists, Semiticists, and Egyptologists, and therefore includes the linguistic rigor demanded by the comparative method, and for non-specialists it also contains introductions to linguistics (language science), to the Semitic languages, and to UA. This article is a mere handful of highlights—260 examples from 1528—a quick glance in a nutshell.
After Sapir (1913, 1915) established Uto-Aztecan as a viable family of related languages, Voegelin, Voegelin, and Hale (1962) produced the first numbered list of 171 cognate sets (groups of related words). Klar (1977) brought the Chumash languages to clarity with 168 sets. Taylor (1963) established Caddoan (a language family of the central plains), assembling 107 cognate sets. Hale (1962, 1967) did the definitive study for Kiowa-Tanoan with 99 sets. This work’s proposal may better compare to tying two distant language families, as did Haas (1958) by ending four decades of controversy in uniting Algonkian-Ritwan, an eastern U.S. family with a west coast family, by means of 93 sets. Chamberlain (1888) began the union of Catawba with Siouan via 17 comparisons, and Siebert (1945) secured it with mostly morphological correlations, as not enough clear cognate sets were known at the time to establish correspondences (Campbell 1997, 140). Thus, the going rate is between 50 and 200 sets to establish most Native American language families. So this case of 1500-plus sets merits proportionate consideration.
The Cognate Collections in Chronological Order and Their Abbreviations
(Branch cognate collections are abbreviated as the initial(s) of author surname(s) dot branch; only the six in bold address the whole language family)
Sapir Sapir’s “Southern Paiute and Nahuatl: a Study in Uto-Aztecan” (1913, 1915)
VVH Voegelin, Voegelin, and Hale’s Typological and Comparative Grammar of UA (1962) B.Tep Burton Bascom’s Proto-Tepiman (1965)
M67 Wick Miller’s Uto-Aztecan Cognate Sets (1967)
BH.Cup William Bright and Jane Hill’s “The Linguistic History of the Cupeño” IJAL 33 (1967) HH.Cup Jane Hill and Kenneth Hill’s “Stress in the Cupan Languages” IJAL 34 (1968)
I.Num David Iannucci’s Numic Historical Phonology (1972)
CL.Azt Campbell and Langacker’s “Proto-Aztecan Vowels,” IJAL 44 (1978)
Fowler83 Catherine Fowler’s “Lexical Clues to UA Prehistory” IJAL 49 (1983) and her fieldnotes L.Son Andrés Lionnet’s Relaciones Internas de la Rama Sonorense (1985)
M88 Wick Miller’s 1988 Computerized Database of Uto-Aztecan Cognate Sets (1988) Munro.Cup Pamelo Munro’s “Stress and Vowel Length in Cupan Absolute Nouns” IJAL 56 (1990) KH.NUA Kenneth Hill’s Serrano Dictionary, with comparative notes relevant to NUA (2001) KH/M06 Kenneth Hill’s Miller’s Uto-Aztecan Cognate Sets: revised and expanded by KCH (2006) UACV Brian Stubbs’ Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary (2011)
The Uto-Aztecan Languages, Abbreviations, Branches, and Branch Abbreviations
Mn Mono (Western Numic) NP Northern Paiute (WNum)
TSh Tümpisha Shoshoni (CNum) Sh Shoshoni (Central Numic) WSh Western Shoshoni (CNum) Cm Comanche (CNum)
Kw Kawaiisu (Southern Numic)
Hp Hopi (single language branch) Eu Tb Tübatülabal (single language branch) Op Ls Luiseño (Takic) Tbr Ca Cahuilla (Takic) Yq Cp Cupeño (Takic) AYq Sr Serrano (Takic) My Gb Gabrielino (Takic) Wr Ktn Kitanemuk (Takic) Tr TO Tohono O’odham (Tepiman) WTr UP Upper Pima/Pima Alto (Tep) Cr Nv Nevome (Tepiman) Wc LP Lower Pima/Pima Bajo (Tep) CN
Tubar (single language branch) Yaqui (Cahitan)
Arizona Yaqui (Cah)
Guarijio (Tarahumaran) Tarahumara (Tarahumaran) Western Tr (Tarahumaran) Cora (Corachol) Huichol (Corachol)
SP Southern Paiute
WMU White Mesa Ute
NU Northern/Uintah Ute (SNum)
CU Colorado Ute
PYp Pima de Yepáchic PYc Pima de Yécora NT Northern Tepehuan ST Southern Tepehuan
(Tep) HN (Tep)
(SNum) (SNum) (SNum)
Classical Nahuatl Pipil
(Aztecan) (Aztecan) (Aztecan)
Proto-Uto-Aztecan (PUA); i.e., Hebrew / Phoenician b > PUA *p (> means ‘became’ or ‘changed to’; < means ‘changed from’; * marks a proto-form or original sound or word as reconstructed by linguists. So Hebrew b > PUA *p means Hebrew b changed to what linguists see as originally *p in UA). The matches presented are a few from among many more examples of each sound change, though abbreviated from the fuller data and explanations in the numbered paragraph sets in the book. Remember that in language change, sounds are regularly lost: Latin fabulare > *fablar > Portuguese falar and Spanish hablar; and we no longer pronounce the initial k- nor final -e in knife. One will also notice that clusters of two consonants often reduce to one consonant, the first usually being lost: in ‘debt’ the cluster -bt- lost the first consonant -b-, no longer pronounced; -b- was also lost in Portuguese falar < *fablar; and the -l- in ‘walk’ and ‘talk’ is not pronounced. The first consonant is often absorbed to double the second: incomplete, but in-legal > illegal, and in-regular > irregular,
Some characteristics of UA are different or not at all like Egyptian or Semitic, but reflect influences rather typical of Amerindian language families, which we would expect of a transplant from the outside into the Americas. One example is suppletion in singular vs. plural verb forms. That is, one verb is used for singular subjects and an entirely different word is used when the subject is plural, yet suppletion is nearly non-existent in Semitic or Egyptian. A score of such pairs in UA show such influences on UA. Semitic conjugation morphology (patterns of how verbs are conjugated) is not productive in UA, but hundreds of fossilized forms of both the suffixed / perfective conjugation (singular yašiba; plural yašib-uu) and the prefixed / imperfective conjugation (yi-/ya-, ti-/ta-, etc) are found in UA.
In contrast to differences, other grammatical features align and substantial amounts of Uto-Aztecan vocabulary produce consistent sets of sound correspondences between UA and the Near-Eastern languages, each treated as a separate entity. Linguists know that as a language changes, each sound remains or changes consistently to one other sound in the same language and environment, and this creates a set of sound correspondences between related languages. For example, among the consistent patterns of sound correspondences, some 40 examples show Hebrew b corresponding to p of
and in-moral > immoral. The first consonant being absorbed to double the second can be seen at the top of page 4 in 871, 872, 99, 889, and at the top of page 8 in 384, 398, 434, and at the bottom of page 11 in 560 and 561.
Semitic verbs consist of three consonants (bṣq, for example) subject to a variety of vowel patterns for various verb conjugations, adjectives, and nouns. The numbers are those from the book. (C = any consonant, an unknown consonant):
(527) baraq ‘lightning’
(528) byt / bayit / beet ‘spend the night, house’
(528) byt / bayit / beet ‘spend the night, house’
(528) bytu ‘spend the night, plural’
(531) Hebrew boo’ ‘coming (used as ‘way to’)
(534) Hebrew batt ‘daughter’
(550) Aramaic bǝsár ‘flesh, penis’
(559) Semitic *bakay; Syriac baka’ ‘cry’
(532) Arabic bṣr ‘see’; baaṣirat ‘eye’; Hebrew *booṣer(et) > UA *pusi ‘eye’
(616) Aramaic dakar ‘male’
(617) Aramaic diqn-aa ‘beard / chin-the’ (618) Aramaic di’b-aa ‘wolf-the’
(620) unattested f. pl: *đabboot(eey) ‘flies’
> UA *taka ‘man, person’
> UA *tï’na ‘mouth’
> UA *tï’pa ‘wolf’ (< Aramaic, but not < Hebrew hazzǝ’eb) > UA *tïpputi ‘flea’
(577) ’aas- ‘myrtle willow’
(579) pa’r- ‘mouse’
(581) Hebrew ’arṣ-aa ‘earth-ward, down’
> UA *wasV ‘willow’
> UA *pu’wi(N) ‘mouse’ > UA *wïcï ‘fall’ (c = ts)
> Uto-Aztecan *p
> UA *pïrok; My berok ‘lightning’
> UA *pïtï; Tr bete ‘house’
> UA *pïtï ‘lie down, spend night’; Num *payïC ‘go home’ > UA *pïtu ‘lie down, spend the night, plural’
> UA *pooC ‘road, way, path’
> UA *pattï ‘daughter’
> UA *pisa ‘penis’
> UA *paka’ ‘cry’
(535) Aramaic bǝquuraa ‘livestock’ (540) Hebrew bṭђ / *baṭiiђ ‘trust(ed)’ (552) bṭn ‘be pregnant’
(553) bṣq ‘swell’
> UA *pukuN ‘domestic animals’ > UA *piciwa ‘believe’ (ṭ > c (=ts)) > UA *puca ‘pregnant’ (ṭ > c (=ts)) > UA *posa ‘swell’
(556) bayṣa(t) / beeṣa(t), pl: beeṣoot ‘egg, testicle’ > UA *pïyso ‘testicle’
(558) bwṣ / byḍ ‘be white’; buuṣ ‘white linen’ > UA *pos ‘white’: Tb poosït~’opoos ‘be white’ (562) -bbiiṭ ‘look’ > UA *pici / *pica ‘look, see’ (ṭ > c (=ts))
The other voiced stops also devoice, that is, Semitic b, d, g > UA p, t, k; also Semitic q > k:
(606) dubur ‘buttocks, rear’
(607) dobɛr ‘pasture, vegetation’
(1484) dwr / duur ‘go round, turn, revolve’
(1103) dakka ‘make flat, stamp, crush’
(1279) Aramaic *yagar ‘hill, heap of stones’
(608) gdʕ ‘cut off’
(57) *siggoob ‘squirrel’
(1014) qədaal ‘neck, nape of neck’
(1023) tqn ‘make straight, set, lay down’
(1089) Hebrew qippod ‘hedgehog’; Arabic *qunpuđ ‘hedgehog’ > UA *kïNpa ‘prairie dog’ (864) *quuppoot ‘baskets, pl’ > UA *koppo ‘basket’
(74) Hebrew təbuu’at ‘produce from the land’ > UA *tïpï’at / *tïpat (AMR) ‘pinion nut’
Proto-Semitic *đ (> Arabic đ, Aramaic d, Hebrew z), corresponds to UA *t:
> UA *tupur ‘hip, buttocks’
> UA *tupi ‘grass, vegetation’
> UA *tur ‘whirl, roll, twist’
> UA *takka ‘flat’
> UA *yakaC / *yakaR (AMR) ‘nose, point, ridge’
> UA *katu’ 'cut, wound'
> UA *sikkuC ‘squirrel’
> UA *kutaC ‘neck’ (*q > k)
> UA *tïkaC ‘put lying down, stretched/spread flat’ (*q > k)
Semitic ’aleph or glottal stop ’ > w in UA (which change also occurs in Arabic), or other times both a glottal stop and adjacent round vowels occur, perhaps ’ causing vowels to round (o, u):
> UA *wari ‘mountain lion’
> UA *yawamin-(o) ‘believe (him/it)’
> UA *wokoC ‘pine tree’ (C = unknown consonant) > Ls yawáywa, Sr yï’aayï’a’n ‘be pretty, beautiful’ > UA *wïsi ‘person’
(566) ’ariy / ’arii ‘lion’
(567) Hebrew ya’amiin-o ‘he believes him/it’
(569) Hebrew ’egooz ‘nut tree’
(571) Semitic ya’ya’ / yaa’ayaa’ ‘(be) beautiful’
(572) Hebrew ’iiš ‘man, person’
(574) Hebrew ’išaa / ’ešɛt / ’išt- ‘woman, wife of’ > UA *wïCti ‘woman, wife’ (C = unknown consonant)
(*q > k) (*q > k)
(575) kama’- ‘truffle(s)’ > UA *kamo’- ‘sweet potato’ (truffles are also edible fleshy appendages to a root system, as are potatoes)
(596) ’arnab ‘hare’
(576) ’atay, *’atii-; Syriac ’ita / ’ɛta ‘come’ (871) ’pl / *tu’pal ‘be dark, go down (sun), f’ (872) ’pl / *yu’pal ‘be dark, go down, m’ (873) ’pl / *yu’pal ‘be dark, go down, m’
(1110) Aramaic ’ard-aa’ ‘mushroom-the’ (1331) ’ikkaar ‘plowman, tiller of ground’ (1333) Hebrew m’n / *me’’an ‘refuse’
Semitic initial r- > t- in UA:
(600) r’y / raa’aa ‘see, v’
(603) Aramaic rima / rimǝ-taa ‘large stone-the’
(604) Aramaic rə’emaan-aa / reemaan-aa ‘antelope-the’ > UA *tïmïna 'antelope’ (99) rakb-u ‘they mounted, climbed’ > UA *tï’pu / *tïppu ‘climb up’ (889) Aramaic rakbaa / rikbaa ‘upper millstone’ > UA *tïppa ‘mortar (and/or) pestle’
Loss of Semitic final -r, without effect on the preceding vowel:
(565) makar ‘sell’
(616) dakar ‘male’
(550) Aramaic bǝsár ‘flesh, penis’
(1331) ’ikkaar ‘plowman, tiller of ground’
> UA *maka ‘give, sell’
> UA *taka ‘man, person’ > UA *pisa ‘penis’
> UA *wika 'digging stick'
> UA *wa’na ‘rabbit net’
> UA *wic ‘come’ (t > c(ts) by high vowels like i, u) > UA *tu’pa > *cuppa ‘be dark, (fire) go out’ (t > c, by u) > UA *yu’pa > *yuppa ‘be dark, black, (fire) go out’
> UA *yu’pa(l) > Aztecan *yowal, CN yowal-li ‘night, n’
Aztecan branch regularly loses a single -p- > UA *witto’oC ‘mushroom’
> UA *wika 'digging stick'
> Hp meewan- ‘forbid, warn’
> UA *tïwa ‘find, see’ > UA *tïmï-ta ‘rock’
Semitic initial voiceless pharyngeal ђ > UA *hu, or w/o/u, and non-initially ђ > w/o/u:
(672) ђbq ‘pass air, break wind’ > UA *hupak- ‘stink’ (*q > k) (673) ђnk ‘train, dedicate’; ђanukkaa ‘dedication, consecration’ > Ca huneke ‘to take an Indian bath’;
Yq húnak-te ‘show, direct, raise (young)’ (671) ђmm ‘heat, bathe, wash’ > UA *huma ‘wash, bathe’
(1040) ђml ‘carry, lift, pick up’ > UA *homa ‘take, carry, pick up’
The Semitic voiced pharyngeal ʕ > UA w/o/u, i.e., some form of rounding, as the Phoenician ʕ symbol > Greek o:
> UA *wakol 'round(ed)’
> UA *pakuwa ‘mushroom, fungus’ (*q > k)
> UA *(w)umaC / *(w)ïmaC ‘rain, be cloudy / overcast’ > UA *wowa ‘vulva, vagina’
> UA *woki ‘track, footprint’ (*q > k)
> UA *sipwa ‘finger’
(677) ʕagol ‘round’
(676) paqʕ- ‘whiteness, species of fungus’
(683) ʕmṭ ‘cloud over, become dark’
(686) ʕɛrwaa ‘nakedness, genitals’
(1197) Hebrew ʕaaqeeb ‘heel, footprint’
(747) Aramaic / Syriac ṣibʕ- ‘finger’
(876) dʕk, impfv: -dʕok (< *-dʕuku) ‘(fire) go out’ > UA *tuka / *tuku / *tuki 'fire go out, dark, black, night’
(900) nʕm ‘be lovely, good, beautiful’ (1289) šgʕ, Hebrew məšuggaʕ ‘raging, mad’ (94) ršʕ ‘act wickedly, be guilty’
> UA *numa / *noma ‘good, well, pretty’ > Nahuatl šiikoaa ‘be jealous, angry’
> UA *tasawa ‘be/do bad’
Many phonemes (sounds) remain much the same, such as t, k, p, s, m, n, etcetera:
(52) Hebrew mukkɛ ‘smitten’ > UA *mukki ‘die, be sick, smitten’
(769) *taqipa (sg), *taqipuu (pl) ‘overpower’ > UA *takipu ‘push’
(750) tmh ‘in awe, fear, speechless’, Syriac tǝmah > UA tuma’ / tu’mï / tehmat / tïhmï ‘be silent, afraid’
(755) Hebrew kutónet ‘shirt-like tunic’
(754) Hebrew participle pone ‘turn to, look’
(851) Hebrew panaa-w ‘face-his’
(852) pl construct paneey- (< *panii) ‘face, surface of’ > UA *pani 'on, on surface of’
(1339) šippaa ‘make smooth’ > UA *sipa / *sippa ‘scrape, shave’
(56) šεkεm / šikm-, Samaritan šekam ‘shoulder’ > UA *sïka ‘shoulder, arm’, Numic *sikum ‘shoulder’
> UA *kutun ‘shirt’
> UA *puni ‘turn, look, see’ > UA *pana ‘cheek, face’
(563) sapat ‘lip’ > UA *sapal ‘lip’
(879) šwy / šawaa ‘broil, roast’ > UA *sawa ‘boil, apply heat, melt'
(1138) Hebrew šor ‘navel’; Arabic surr ‘navel cord’ > Sr ṣuur ‘navel’
(13) snw ‘shine, be beautiful’ > Hopi soniwa ‘be beautiful, bright, brilliant, handsome’ (890) kann ‘shelter, house, nest’ > UA *kanni (NUA) ‘house’ > *kali (SUA) ‘house’ (903) khh, kehah ‘be inexpressive, disheartened’ > UA -kïhahï- ‘sad’
(1045) Hebrew *moškat ‘bracelet, fetter, belt’ (1105) kali / kulyaa ‘kidney’
(1409) Aramaic kuuky-aa’ ‘spider-the’
> Tb mohkat-t ‘belt’
> UA *kali ‘kidney’
> UA *kuukyaŋw ‘spider’; Hopi kòokyaŋw ‘spider’
Semitic emphatic or pharyngealized ṣ > s in UA:
(892) ṣanawbar ‘type of pine tree’
(901) ṣb’ / ṣby / ṣəbee ‘wish, want, seek, delight in’ > UA *supiC ‘like, want’
> UA *sanawaC > Sh sanawap-pin ‘pine tree’ > UA *mos ‘suck’
> UA *sïta / *sïti ‘red’
Semitic emphatic or pharyngealized ṭ > c (ts):
(770) ṭwy / ṭawaa ‘spin (thread)’
(771) ṭʕm ‘taste, eat’ (plural participle ṭoʕmiim) > UA *cu’mi 'suck, sip, kiss'
(772) ṭame’ ‘(be) unclean’, ṭum’a(t) ‘uncleanness, filthy mass’ > UA *co’ma ‘mucus, have a cold’
(832) *sarṭoon ‘scratcher, crab’ > UA *saCtun >*sicu/*suttu ‘claw, fingernail, crab, scratch’
Sometimes the c (ts) lenites (weakens) one more step to s:
(778) ṭibbuur ‘navel’ > NP sibudu; Cr sipu; Hp sipna / sivon- ‘navel’
The p-Northwest Semitic distinguishes x from ђ, as in pre-exilic Hebrew, thus Semitic *x > UA k: (1088) *xld ‘burrow’, xuld / *xild-aa’ ‘mole-the’ > UA *kita ‘groundhog’
(630) *xole ‘be sick, hurting’ > > UA *koli ‘to hurt, be sick’
(631) xmr ‘to ferment’; *xamar ‘wine’; Arabic ximiir ‘drunkard’ > UA *kamaC 'drunk'
(632) *xnk ‘put around the neck’ > UA konaka ‘necklace, string of beads’ (634) *xaṣr- > xaṣṣ ‘hip, haunch, loins’ > UA kaca ‘hip’
Clusters like -m’-, -’m-, -qm-, that is, m clustered with either ’ or q became ŋ in Northern UA, n in SUA: (1246) Old Canaanite sim’al ‘left’, *ha-sim’al ‘the-left’ > Tb aašiŋan ‘left side’ (l > n in NUA)
(1012) šeqma(t) / šiqma(t) ‘sycamore tree’ > UA *sïŋŋa(C) 'cottonwood or aspen tree’
(1144) ’lm ‘be grieved’ > Hebrew ’almaanaa ‘widow’ > UA *o’mana / *oŋani ‘sad, suffering’
Clusters with -r- as 2nd consonant show -Cr- > -Cy-, especially -gr-, -qr- > -ky-, or -gra / -qra > Hopi -kya:
(1173) mwṣ ‘suck’
(1350) ṣd’ / ṣdi ‘grow rusty’
> Nahuatl cawa ‘spin’
(1402) Aramaic moogeraa ‘stored provision’
(1130) Aramaic pagr-aa ‘corpse-the’
(1403) Syriac šigr-aa ‘drain, ditch, gutter-the’
(1405) šqr ‘fair, yellow to red’, Arabic šuqra ‘fair complexion, blondness, redness’ > Hopi sikyà ‘yellow’ (743) *tamar; Aramaic tuumr-aa ‘palm tree-the’ > UA *tu’ya ‘palm tree, sp’
> Hopi mokyàa- ‘bundle, sack of’
> Hopi pïïkya ‘skin, fur’
> Hopi sikya ‘small valley, ravine, canyon with sloped sides’
Proto-Semitic *z > c (ts) in UA:
(1116) Hebrew zέpɛt (< *zipt-) / zaapet ‘pitch’ > UA *copï ‘pitch, resin’
(87) Arabic ʕgz / ʕagaza ‘to age, grow old (of women)’ > Tr wegaca- 'grow old (of women)’
Egyptian terms in UA exceed 400 and have the same sound correspondences as the above Semitic. Egyptian did not include written vowels, only the consonants. Sometimes the vowels are hinted at in transcriptions from other ancient Near-East languages, or from Egyptian’s descendants like Demotic and Coptic, but generally only the consonants are certain. Sometimes the Coptic term is listed along with the Egyptian term, but do not regard Coptic as involved in the Egyptian to UA tie, because UA preserves the Egyptian phonology better than Coptic does usually, though two more millennia removed. Coptic is simply listed for hints at vowels or to show Uto-Aztecan’s better preservation (7.3, p. 331):
(115) sbk / *subak ‘crocodile’
(116) -i ‘old perfective/stative verb suffix’ (117) -w / -iw ‘passive verb suffix’
(124) tks ‘pierce’
(125) km ‘black’
> UA *supak / *sipak ‘crocodile’ (b > p)
> UA -i ‘intransitive / past / passive/ stative verb suffix’
> UA -wa / -iwa ‘passive verb suffix’
> UA *tïkso ‘pierce, poke’
> UA *koma ‘dark, gray, brown, black’
> UA *nïmi ‘walk around’
> UA *wancio / woncia ‘fox’ (-ns- > -nc- as in sense/cents) > UA *sima ‘go, leave’
(126) nmi ‘travel, traverse’
(129) wnš, pl wnšiw ‘jackal’
(131) šm ‘go, walk, set out, leave’
(219) iqr ‘skillful, excellent, capable, intelligent’ > UA *yikar ‘knowing, intelligent, able, good’ (221) wr ‘great (in size/importance), wrw ‘greatest’ > UA *wïru ‘big’
(222) wnx ‘be clothed, roll of cloth’
(136) win ‘thrust aside, push away, set aside’ (253) spd ‘sharp, be sharp pointed’
(255) sqd ‘slope (of pyramid)’
(210) twt ‘sandal(s)’
(339) t’-ђimat ‘the-wife’; Coptic hime
Note again Egyptian b > UA p, as in the Semitic (132) sbq ‘calf of leg’
(133) sbty ‘enclosure’
(134) qbb ‘cool; calm, quiet, cool breeze’
(137) bbyt ‘region of throat’
(138) bši ‘spit, vomit’, bšw ‘vomit, vomiting’ (139) bnty ‘breast’
(141) bit ‘bee’
(142) bik ‘falcon’
(154) sb’ ‘star’
> UA *wanaC ‘cloth, clothing’
> UA *wina 'throw down/out, spill, empty' > UA *sipaC 'point'
> UA *sikiC ‘slanted (terrain), side’ (q > k) > UA *tuti ‘sandal(s)’
> UA *tïhima 'spouse'
Also Egyptian x > UA *k, as in the Semitic above:
(170) txi ‘be drunk, drink deep’, txw ‘drunkard’ (294) xpš ‘foreleg, thigh’
(295) xpd ‘buttock’
(295) xpdw ‘buttocks’
> UA *tïku 'drunk’
> UA *kapsi ‘thigh’
> UA *kupta ‘buttocks’
> UA *kupitu ‘buttocks’
> UA *sikun ‘kidney’
> UA *sakat / *sakaC ‘grass, willow’
(171) sxn / zxn ‘kidney fat, pancreas’
(174) sxt ‘field, country, pasture, willow’
(178) x’yt / h’yt ‘disease, slaughter, corpse-heap’ > UA *ko’ya ‘die, pl subj; kill, pl obj’
> UA *sipika ‘lower leg’
> UA *sapti ‘fence of branches’
> UA *koppa ‘quiet, calm’
> UA *papi ‘larynx, throat, voice’ (b > p)
> UA *piso-(ta) ‘vomit’
> UA *pitti / *piCti ‘breast’
> UA *pitV > *picV 'bee, wasp'
> UA *pik ‘hawk species’
> UA *sipo’ > *si’po ‘star’
(b > p) (b > p) (b > p) (b > p)
(b > p)
(b > p) (b > p) (b > p)
(247) xr ‘fall’
(320) xpx ‘rob’
(224) wxd ‘be painful, sick, suffer, endure’ (452) xt ‘fire, heat’
> UA *kuri ‘fall’, UA *kara ‘fall’
> UA *kïpïk ‘take, grasp’
> UA *okotï ‘be in pain, suffer, sorrow’ > UA *kut ‘fire’
Egyptian initial pharyngeal ђ > UA *hu, and non-initially ђ > w/o/u:
(180) ђbi ‘be / make festival’ > UA *hupiya ‘sing, song’
(181) ђnqt ‘beer, drinkers’ > UA *hunaka ‘drunk, alcohol’
(182) ђtp / hotpe ‘be gracious, peaceable, set (sun), bury’ > UA *huppi ‘peaceable, go down, sink, dive’
(187) ђw’ ‘foul, putrid, stink, vi’ (188) nђbt ‘nape of the neck, to yoke’ (189) nђb ‘to harness, yoke’
(397) ђti ‘smoke, vapor’
(415) ђnn ‘penis’
> UA *hu’a / *hu’i ‘break wind, stink’ > UA *nohopi > nopi ‘hand, arm’
> UA *noopi ‘carry on back’
> UA *uti 'dew, vapor, frost’
> UA *huna ‘penis’
Egyptian glottal stop ’ > w, or glottal stop next to round vowels, ’ probably causing vowels to round (o, u):
(147) m’i ‘lion’; Coptic mui (148) t’yt ‘shroud’
(198) d’rt ‘bitter gourd’ (205) t’y ‘male, man’
(322) q’i ‘tall, high’; q’yt ‘high land, hill’ (515) ’xi ‘sweep together’
(150) t’ ‘earth, land’; Coptic to
(151) i’w ‘old man’; i’wi ‘be aged’
(153) s’ ‘son’
(259) st’ ‘jar, jug’
(258) st’ ‘drag, pull, pull out, draw’ (154) sb’ ‘star’
(157) it’ ‘take, carry, steal’
(370) ђ’ ‘behind, around’
(431) b’k / b’kt ‘document’
> UA *mawiya ‘mountain lion’
> UA *tawayi ‘cape-like garment’
> UA *sawara 'gourd'
> UA *tawi > *tïwi ‘man, male’
> UA *kawi ‘mountain, rock’
> UA *wak / *wok ‘sweep, comb, brush’ > UA *tïwa / *to’o ‘sand, dust’
> UA *yo’o ‘old’
> UA *so’o ‘child, son’
> UA *soto’i ‘jar’
> UA *(piC)-sutu’a ‘(behind)-pull, drag’ > UA *sipo’ > *si’po ‘star’
> UA *itu’i > i’tu ‘steal, take’
> UA *huwï ‘around’
> UA *po’ok ‘mark, write, tattoo’ (b > p)
Egyptian d corresponds to Semitic ṣ, and thus Egyptian d > UA *s, like Semitic ṣ > UA *s also:
(200) dbt / *dubat ‘brick, adobe brick’ (199) db’ ‘to clothe, garment, clothing’ (198) d’rt ‘bitter gourd’
(197) dʕb ‘coal-black’, dʕbt ‘charcoal’ (194) d’i ‘pierce, transfix’
> UA *supa ‘adobe’
> UA *sipu’ > *si’pu ‘slip, skirt, shirt, clothing’ > UA *sawara 'gourd'
> UA *so’opa ‘black, dark’
> UA *so’a/*so’i 'pierce, sew, shoot arrow'
> UA *suti ‘mosquito, gnat’
(390) dwt ‘mosquito, gnat’
Egyptian initial r- > UA t-, though Tarahumara retains r-:
(164) rn ‘young one, of animals’ (165) rwi ‘dance, v’
(169) rmt ‘man, person’
(167) rwd ‘cord, bow-string’ (337) r’-ib ‘stomach’
Egyptian pharyngeal ʕ > UA *w/o/u: (163) rʕ / rʕw ‘sun’
(162) šʕy ‘sand’; Coptic šoo
(262) ʕnt ‘nail, claw’
(400) sʕr ‘thorn bush(es)’
(426) ʕnr(t) ‘flint’
(464) ʕq ‘enter’
(475) sw ‘it, pronoun’ (is) p’ʕt ‘quail’
> UA *tana ‘offspring’
> UA *tawiya / *tuwiya > *tuya ‘dance’
> UA *tïmati ‘young man’: Tr ŕemarí, Eu temáci- > UA *tïsa ‘rope’
> NUA *to’i ‘stomach’ / SUA *toCpa ‘stomach’
> UA *tawa / *tawi ‘sun, day’ > UA *siwa(l) ‘sand’
> UA *wati 'claw, fingernail'
> UA *sawaro ‘saguaro cactus' > UA *wi’naC ‘flint’
> UA *waka/u ‘enter’ > UA *supa’awi ‘quail’
Like the devoicing of Egyptian b > UA *p, so also is the devoicing of Egyptian d > UA *t, and g > *k:
(268) dwn ‘stretch, straighten; Coptic town (269) dqr ‘fruit’ (> Coptic tiče / jiji)
(270) dbђ ‘ask for’ (Coptic toobh)
(271) dm ‘be sharp, sharpen’; Coptic toom (272) dmi (dmr) ‘touch’
> UA *tuna ‘straight’
> UA *taka(C) ‘fruit’
> UA *tïpiwa / *tïpiN 'ask'
> UA *tama / *tomo ‘be sharp, sharpen’ > UA *tam ‘touch’
(273) dw’ ‘rise early’; dw’w / dw’yt ‘morning’; Coptic to’we > UA *to’i ‘rise, come up/out’ (395) ngg ‘gander/male goose’ > *nakï 'goose' (devoicing of g > k)
Egyptian cluster *-m’- > UA *mw > ŋ in 3 items widespread throughout UA, as in Semitic -m’- > -ŋ- (1246, p. 5):
(280) ђm’ / ђm’t ‘salt’ (> Coptic hmu) (281) sm’ ‘lung’; pl: sm’w ‘lungs’ (284) qm’ ‘create, beget (of father)’
> UA *omwa > *oŋwa / *oŋa ‘salt’
> UA *somwo > *soŋo ‘lungs’
> UA *kumwa > *kuŋa ‘husband’ (q > k)
Other clusters and parallels:
(332) qrђt ‘serpent, partner’ (*qarђat >)
(384) inqt ‘net’
(391) ishb ‘jackal, fox’
(398) k’p ‘cover, close (eyebrows/eyelids)
(434) g’p ‘cut’
(381) wrt ђq’w ‘buzzard’
(404) ђ’dt ‘basket’
(426) ʕnr(t) ‘flint’
(263) šwt ‘shade, shadow’
(264) šmrt ‘large bow’, pl šmrwt
(267) twr ‘reed’
(266) šnw / šni ‘hair, grass’; šni ‘encircle, cover’ > UA *soni / *sono ‘grass, blanket’
(331) qny ‘be yellow’; qnit ‘yellow(ness)’ (333) qd ‘go round, turn, spin’ (> Coptic koote) (446) qm’ ‘fight’; qm’tyw ‘enemies’
(409) nk ‘copulate’
(468) ’wt ‘length’
(470) t’-imnti ‘the west’
(519) wpi ‘open, separate, divide’
> Cp kenekene’e- ‘yellow’ (q > k) > UA *koti / *kuri ‘turn, go around’ (q > k) > UA *kïma’a / *kïmma(n)ci ‘different, enemy’ (q > k) > UA *naka ‘copulate, cover’
> UA *otï / *utu / *uta ‘long, tall’
> UA *tïmïnïmïn ‘north, west’ (reduplicated) > UA *wopa ‘divide’
> UA *koŋwa ‘snake, twin’ (q > k) > UA *ikkaC / *iCkaC ‘carrying net’ (q > k) > UA *isap / *isa’apa ‘coyote’
> UA *kuppa / *kuCpa 'close (eyes)’
> UA *kappi 'break, cut' (devoicing g > k) > UA *wirhukuN 'buzzard, turkey vulture'
> UA *huCta ‘basket’
> UA *wi’naC ‘flint’
> Nahuatl seewal-li ‘shade’
> -samaaloo-t of Nahuatl koo-samaaloo-tl ‘rainbow’ > Nahuatl tool-in ‘cattails, reeds’;
The above 105 Egyptian-UA matches are but 25% of the 400+ listed in the Egyptian section of the book.
The above Semitic and Egyptian parallels in UA both have the same sound correspondences, apparently spoken or
used by one group of people. However, in contrast to those two, a separate sizable set of data suggest another contributing Semitic dialect or language, having a different set of sound correspondences in which Semitic b > UA *kw (like Greek p corresponds to Latin kw), though the Tepiman branch of UA, and Eudeve, Opata, and some dialects of Nahuatl actually have b from Semitic b, though that b corresponds to PUA *kw; so all those UA b = Semitic b in dageshed positions. The data of the kw-Semitic language are what I noticed first, and because the Hebrew b > *p group were exceptions to those correspondences that I noticed first (Hebrew b > PUA *kw), I ignored them for years, but kept them in the back of my mind (not a safe place), until I noticed Egyptian similarities (in UA) whose sound correspondences with UA aligned with those exceptions: that is, Egyptian b > UA *p also, as well as another 40 examples of Semitic b > UA *p, which differences are discussed throughout the book. Not until then did it occur to me that we have two separate Semitic entities that merged in UA—a Phoenician-like kw-Northwest Semitic (kw-NWSem) wherein Semitic b > UA *kw, and an Aramaic-like p-Northwest Semitic (p-NWSem) in which Semitic b > UA p. Furthermore, the p-NWSem speakers seemed to know some Egyptian as well; that is, the p-NWSem and the Egyptian in UA have the same sound correspondences. The data show the two Semitic infusions or languages (kw-NWSem and p-NWSem) to have separate sets of correspondences for other phonemes (basic sounds) as well, the p-NWSem being consistently parallel to the Egyptian correspondences.
Below are some data and sound correspondences from the Phoenician-like kw-Semitic wherein Semitic b > UA *kw:
(4) Hebrew baašel ‘boiled, cook, ripen’ (5) Hebrew bááśaar ‘flesh, penis’
(6) Hebrew baalaʕ ‘swallow’
(7) Semitic *bahamat ‘back’
> UA *kwasïC ‘cook, ripen’
> UA *kwasi ‘tail, penis, flesh’
> UA *kwïluC ‘swallow’
> UA *kwahami ‘back’
> UA *kwïkï ‘cry’ (from kw-NWSemitic) > UA *kwiya / *kwira 'earth'
> UA *kwiyam ‘be lazy, do lackadaisically’ > UA *cikwa ‘rain
> UA *tïkwi ‘say, talk, speak’
(r > y/i)
(r > y/i) (r > y/i)
(r > y/i)
(24) bky / bakaay ‘cry’
(19) barr- ‘land (as opposed to sea)’
(27) brm ‘worn out, weary, bored with’
(1457) Arabic ṣabba ‘pour, drip, overflow’
(11) Hebrew -dabber ‘speak’
(26) Hebrew bεn ‘son’; pl: bəneey ‘children (of)’ > Nahuatl *konee 'child, offspring’
As in all three languages, the voiced pharyngeal ʕ > w/o/u:
(88) ʕlq ‘stick, adhere’, ʕalaqat ‘leech’
(89) śeeʕaar ‘hair’; Arabic šaʕr / šaʕar ‘hair’ (92) yáʕar ‘wood, forest, thicket’
> UA *walaka ‘snail’ (of similar slimy adhering texture) > UA *suwi ‘body hair’ (r > y/i) > UA *yuwi / yuyi ‘evergreen species’ (r > y/i)
Kw-Semitic non-initial -r- > -y-/-i- (also in 5, 19, 27, 89, 92 above) and tends to raise & front the preceding vowel (V > i):
(62) srq / saraq ‘to comb’
(65) mrr ‘pass, go, walk’
(64) Semitic krr / krkr ‘go in circles, dance’ (19) barr- ‘land (as opposed to sea)’
(27) brm / baram ‘worn out, weary, bored with’ (79) Hebrew ђmr ‘cover with, smear on’
(81) Hebrew ђabéret ‘wife’
> UA *siyuk / *ciyuk ‘to comb’ > UA *miya ‘go’
> SP kiya ‘have a round dance’ > UA *kwiya / *kwira 'earth'
> UA *kwiyam ‘be lazy, do lackadaisically’ > UA *humay ‘smear, spread, rub, paint’
> UA *hupi 'woman, wife'
(-r- > -y-/-i-) (-r- > -y-/-i-) (-r- > -y-/-i-) (-r- > -y-/-i-) (-r- > -y-/-i-) (-r- > -y-/-i-) (-r- > -y-/-i-)
As in the Egyptian and the p-NWSemitic contributions, so also in the kw-NWSemitic, ђ > hu or w/o/u:
Kw-Semitic ṣ > UA c (ts):
(83) Hebrew ṣrђ ‘cry, roar’ > UA *cayaw ‘yell’ (84) Hebrew ṣmђ, imperfective: yi-ṣmaђ ‘sprout’ > UA *icmo ‘sprout’
> UA *huc ‘arrow’
> UA *humay ‘smear, spread, rub, paint’ > UA *uppa ‘bathe, wash, rub’
> UA *hupi 'woman, wife'
> UA *husi / *hwasi ‘look, peek at’
> NUA *wïkkwiN- ‘wrap around, coil’
(78) Hebrew ђeṣ ‘arrow’
(79) Hebrew ђmr ‘cover with, smear on’
(80) Hebrew ђbb ‘rub off, wash’
(81) Hebrew ђabéret ‘wife’
(82) Hebrew ђzy / ђazaa ‘see, behold, look’
(658) ђbl ‘bind’, *-ђabbil ‘bind’
(853) Aramaic ђippušit-aa ‘beetle-the’; Arabic *xunpus > UA *wippusi ‘beetle’ (-np- > -pp- in both Aramaic & UA) In the next section are three more examples (83, 84, 85) of ђ > w/o.
(85) Hebrew ṣlђ ‘rush, v’
(899) ṣinw-, pl aṣnaa’ ‘twin, one twin’
(29) ṣəbii > ṣəvii ‘gazelle’
(86) ṣʕq ‘shout, call out, cry (out)’, ṣǝʕaaqaa ‘yell, call, n’ > UA *coaka ‘cry’ (28) ṣurṣur ‘cricket’ > UA *corcor ‘cricket’
(78) ђeṣ ‘arrow’ > UA *huc ‘arrow’
Unlike its associated rounding in p-Semitic, the kw-Semitic glottal stop ’ is not rounded and often lost:
(991) Hebrew ni-qra’ ‘he/it is called/named’ (587) ’argaamaan ‘purple, red-purple’ (1214) Hebrew mee-’ayn ‘from where?’ (1055) ’aamaqqǝt-aa ‘lizard-the, n.f.’
> UA *nihya ‘call, name’
> UA *aNkaC ‘red’
> Tb maa’ayn ‘where from’
> UA *makkaCta(Nka) ‘horned toad’ > UA *tïma ‘earth’
(591) ’adaamaa / ’adaamaa ‘earth’
(592) Hebrew ’abneṭ, pl: ’abneṭ-iim ‘sash, girdle’ > UA *natti ‘belt’
(1054) raqbubit ‘moth, decayed, moth-eaten’ > UA *...kupïpika / *(C)Vkupïpika 'butterfly'
> UA *coloa ‘flee, run’ > UA *cono’o 'twin(s)' > Hopi cöövi- ‘antelope’
Kw-Semitic final or non-initial -l also tends to raise and front vowels (V > e, i):
(1225) Hebrew ’abaal ‘truly, indeed’ > Tr abe ‘yes, an emphatic’
(54) Hebrew taapel ‘whitewash’; Aramaic ṭǝpel ‘plaster’ > UA *tïpi ‘white clay’
(1321) Hebrew ђargol, Arabic *ђargal / *ђurgul ‘locust’ > Tr urugi-pari ‘type of grasshopper’
(798) Hebrew ’akal ‘(he/it) ate’ (perfective) > UA *’aki ‘open mouth, eat, take/put into one’s mouth’ (797) Hebrew *yo’kal ‘(he/it) eats’ (imperfective) > UA *yï’ïki 'swallow, taste, finish'
Number 797 (-l raising -a- > -i-) is in contrast to p-NWSemitic *tukkaC wherein final -l has no raising effect. (796) Hebrew *to’kal ‘(she/it) eats’ > UA *tukkaC > Num *tïkkaC 'eat'
Such a tripartite combination I first considered suspect until the quantity for each grew to more than sufficient to allow each to stand on its own strength, as each dimension has 400-700 sets, and two of the three have the same sound correspondences. Should we ignore the strength of a case of 1500 similarities? Or should we be fair and consider the data when a few hundred items support each dimension of the tripartite scenario? If one simply cannot bear the thought of the three, then pick only one of the groups: Egyptian with 400+ sets; p-NWSem with about 700 sets; or kw-NWSem with about 400 sets. Ought a correlation of 400 sets be ignored? Even 400 sets is three times what most Native American language families were founded on.
(r > y/i) (r > y/i)
Yet a few words of caution are in order: (1) First of all, linguists would look dimly on a tripartite collection of languages to propose an Old World tie with an American language family. Linguistically, each of those three has to stand on its own merit, independent of the other two. Yet the numbers of similarities for each are enough data for each one of the three to do exactly that—serve as a valid case each in and of itself (400 to 700 similarities for each).
(2) Anthropologists and linguists are wary and weary of hearing about proposed ties between Semitic or Egyptian and New World languages—about 300 years’ worth of weary. Most such claims have been bogus to borderline or amateurish at best, somewhat justifying linguists’ wariness in light of claims void of sound methodology, that is, lacking what linguists have found to be established principles and patterns for verifying language relatedness: rules of sound change that create consistent sound correspondences, hundreds of vocabulary matches consistent with those sound correspondences, and some grammatical and morphological alignments, which sum constitutes the comparative method. Thus, the language similarities in the book are presented within a framework of sound correspondences. In fact, the Semitic or Egyptian forms proposed to underlie the UA forms often answer questions and explain puzzles in UA that Uto- Aztecanists have not yet been able to explain; and explanatory power is a cherished quest among linguists. While the finds do seem significant, some details remain to be worked out.
(3) Given the amount of Egyptian vocabulary in UA, we might expect to find and may yet identify more Egyptian grammatical patterns in UA. However, if the Egyptian phrasing in UA is reduced as much as many Egyptian phrases are reduced in Coptic (a late form of Egyptian dating to 2,000 years ago), then such identifications would be a challenge (if even possible), requiring time, not to mention requiring a greater depth of familiarity with UA languages and Egyptian than yet exists in any single mind. Many living languages reduce as drastically. In American English, one often hears ‘hwəjədu?’ for ‘what did you do?’ Therein -j- is the phonological reduction of the final -t of ‘what’, the whole of ‘did’, and the y- of ‘you’—some of three words (-t did y-) reduced to one consonant (-j-).
Often as drastic were Egyptian changes to Coptic: Egyptian iwr-ti > Coptic εετ (eet) ‘pregnant’ (Loprieno 1995, 78); the i/y is not obvious, nor w or r. Practically nothing of the stem ‘pregnant’ (iwr) is left, only a long vowel and the t of the stative suffix. Egyptian r-di.t iri.f sdm > Coptic e-t-ref sotem ‘to cause that he may do hearing’—a reduction of 8 consonants (r-di.t iri.f) to (etref) 3 consonants and 2 vowels (Cerny and Groll 1993, 155), though 3 of the original 8 consonants are vowel-like or semi-vowels. Egyptian tw.i m nʕy r sdm ‘I am in going to hear’ (= I shall hear) became Coptic tinasotm, or tw.i m nʕy r > tina (Cerny 1976, 104), 8 segments (sounds) to 4. Adding to the challenge is that the time depth from Late Egyptian to Coptic is half the probable time depth in this problem: if UA is partially from Egyptian, the Egyptian in the UA languages is now being recorded at a time depth a millennium or two greater than the time depth between Late Egyptian and Coptic. Yet UA preserves many vowels and details better than Coptic (7.3 in book).
On the other hand, these data explain many things previously unexplained in UA:
(1) The phonology of medial (middle) consonant clusters is a huge problem in UA, yet Semitic and Egyptian shed light on many of those clusters and explain the mutual effect of adjacent consonants on each other. For example, (614) makteš ‘mortar, grinding stone’ > UA *ma’ta ‘mortar, grinding stone’ in most of UA, but the noun made verb Ca mataš (< *mattaš) ‘crush, squash, vt’ shows final -š and a medial cluster which became geminated *-tt-, as *-t- > -l- in Cahuilla.
(2) Uto-Aztecanists agree on each UA language’s reflex that corresponds to PUA *p. (A language’s reflex is its corresponding sound which the proto-sound changed to.) However, five UA languages—Tarahumara, Mayo, Yaqui, Arizona Yaqui, and Eudeve—show both initial b and p corresponding to PUA *p. This split is usually ignored as an inconvenient inconsistency in these languages. However, the initial b forms in these languages correspond to Egyptian b or Semitic b of p-NWSemitic, and the initial p forms to Semitic/Egyptian p. How can such an alignment be coincidental? For the various UA forms of b vs. p to match Semitic/Egyptian b vs. p is significant (see 6.2 in the book).
(3) PUA initial *t (at the beginning of words) corresponds to the initial t of most UA languages, except for Tarahumara initial r. So if PUA *t became Tarahumara r, then where does Tarahumara initial t come from? The data in this work suggest that Semitic/Egyptian initial r became t, so in most UA languages initial r and initial t merged to look like PUA *t, but Tarahumara kept them separate. Thus, 6.1 (in the book) clarifies the Tarahumara r vs. t puzzle.
(4) Other matters in UA at 6.3, 6.4, and 6.5 (in the book) are also explained by the Near-East language ties. Many UA features match reconstructable Hebrew/Phoenician better than they match other Semitic languages:
Uto-Aztecan Hebrew Arabic
(1) *-ima (pl suffix) Semitic masc pl: *-iima -uuna/-iina
Aramaic Akkadian -iin -uu
(904) *-te (pl suffix)
Semitic fem pl: *-ooteey -aat reciprocal/passive: *na- in-
‘sit / dwell’ *yašiba waθaba 10
Significant is the language parallel of Yiddish, the language of the Jewish peoples of Central Europe. Uto- Aztecan and Yiddish are both Semitic infusions into non-Semitic areas, where each (as a minority people) borrowed heavily from the languages of the larger surrounding peoples. Originally coming out of Palestine, many Jewish people sojourned in Greece, Rome, and elsewhere along the northern Mediterranean, then some among them expanded into central Europe, where their original Hebrew-and-Aramaic idiom borrowed mostly from German, but also from Slavic and other languages of their successive environments through which they traveled and periodically settled (Kriwaczek 2006, 40-48; Harshaw 1990, 5-7). Thus, Yiddish is a transplant and very much a language mix (like English and many languages are). Estimates generally have 15-20% of Yiddish being from the original Hebrew-Aramaic vocabulary, and 80-85% borrowed from German, etc. Similarly, only 15% of Old English continued into modern English; the other 85% was lost, being replaced by words from French, Latin, and other languages from which we English speakers borrowed (Baugh and Cable 55). While the details of Uto-Aztecan’s prehistory may yet require lifetimes to unlock, Uto-Aztecan seems to have a higher percentage of its basic vocabulary from Near-Eastern languages than Yiddish has. For example, Yiddish pronouns are all from German, whereas most UA pronouns match Semitic (see book’s section 3 on pronouns). Most Yiddish body-part terms are from German—kop (head), oig (eye), oi’er (ear), hant (hand), hartz (heart), k’nee (knee), fus (foot), etcetera—while a higher percentage of UA body-part terms, animal terms, and basic nouns of nature match Semitic or Egyptian (see section 7.1 in the book).
The two forms of Semitic are both Northwest Semitic, though quite distinguishable to a degree, but not entirely. Two separate sets of sound correspondences distinguish most of the vocabulary as noted previously, but not all. Some details remain to be clarified. While the kw-Semitic exhibits Phoenician-Hebrew like features and the p-Semitic has Aramaic-like features and vocabulary, it also has Hebrew-like features. These kinds of unique sets of features are fairly typical of related languages. For example, the language of the Book of Job is unique: though labeled Hebrew, it contains features more Arabic-like and Aramaic-like than the Hebrew of the other authors. The language of the Nabateans, though primarily an Aramaic dialect, was also more Arabic-like than other Aramaic dialects. So any diffused offshoot can be expected to be a unique combination of features.
Regarding the Aramaic leaning of the p-Semitic, some scholars (Young 1993, 54-62, 85-86) note that Aramaic did influence the dialects of ancient Israel, especially northern Israel. What is not known is the degree or extent, though it may have been more significant or pervasive than presently known. These data may be relevant to that void in present knowledge. Marsha White (1997), in a review of Young 1993, summarizes Young’s substance more clearly and concisely than either I or Young could: “Young ... suggests that Biblical Hebrew goes back to the adaptation of the pre- Israelite Canaanite prestige language.... Thus, from the beginning of Israelite history there were two linguistic strata: literary/formal and dialectical/colloquial. This situation of diglossia persisted throughout pre-exilic Israelite history.... The best explanation for ... so many Aramaisms in the early literary language is that they were in the lower (i.e., spoken) form of the language, and that Archaic Biblical Hebrew was open to elements from the underlying dialects. The strong presence of Aramaisms in the oldest Biblical Hebrew undermines the theory that Aramaisms equals late” (White 1997).
The Aramaic-like p-NWSemitic aligns well with the likelihood of Aramaic substrata serving as underlying dialects to the literary language of Canaanite/Hebrew, perhaps throughout the Northern Kingdom’s centuries. What language did the mothers of the Israelites (Leah and Rachel) speak? Aramaic! In addition, Aramaic was somewhat a lingua franca throughout most of the area through most centuries. So did the Israelites really set aside Aramaic upon entering Canaan? Or did they adopt degrees of bilingualism while adding the Phoenician/Canaanite literary language? The latter is likely nearer the case in some areas, if not most.
The UA basic vocabulary from Egyptian and Semitic are numerous: body parts, plant and animal terms, nouns of nature (sun, moon, star, sky, rock, water, etc.; see 7.1 in the book.) A considerable amount of Semitic morphology or fossilized items of Semitic verb conjugations are found in UA. Below are three groups; many more are at 7.6 in the book.
(1420) Semitic nwr ‘to make/become light’ with infinitive and imperfective: -nuur(u), and perfective naar > UA has both in Eu nurú ‘to dawn, become light’ and Tbr nare ‘to dawn, become light’
Uto-Aztecan has four separate forms from the verb bky /bakaa ‘to cry, weep’:
(559) p-Semitic bky/ bakaa ‘he cried, wept’; Syriac bakaa / baka’ > UA *paka’ ‘cry’
(24) kw-Semitic bky/ bakaa ‘he cried, wept’; Hebrew baakaa > UA *kwïkï / *o’kï 'cry’
Because bilabials as first segment in a cluster disappear (-bk- > -k-) in Egyptian/Semitic > UA, the imperfective 3rd person masculine singular *ya-bkV ‘he/it weeps’ with imperfective prefix originally *ya- (later yi-) also matches UA *yakka (560) Semitic *ya-bkay ‘he/it weeps, cries, masc sg.’ > UA *yaCkaC > *yakka / *yaka ‘cry’
(561) Semitic *ta-bkay ‘she/it weeps, cries, fem sg.’ > UA *takka > NP taka ‘cry’.
So Northern Paiute has both the masc 3rd sg of *ya-bka > yakka and the fem 3rd singular *ta-bka > UA *takka ‘cry’ (the middle consonant geminates/doubles in both as well). UA also has the perfective stem in Aramaic bakay / baka’ ‘cry’ > UA *paka’ of the p-NWSemitic and also *kwïkï/*o’kï of the kw-NWSemitic.
Uto-Aztecan also has three separate forms from the Semitic root ktš ‘to grind’: the imperfective verb stem in most UA languages, a perfective qittel in Yaqui, and a noun ‘grindstone’ in most UA languages:
Hebrewroot ktš ‘grind’
(1094) impfv -ktoš (< *-ktusu) ‘pound, grind’
(615) *kitteš (< *kittaš) ‘grind’
(614) makteš ‘mortar, grinding stone’
Of interest is the noun made verb Ca mataš ‘crush, squash, vt’ showing final -š and a medial cluster or geminated *-tt-, because single *-t- would become -l- in Cahuilla. At 7.6 in the book are many more groups of cognate sets reflecting different forms of Semitic’s elaborate conjugation systems (see 1.21).
In addition, many unusual semantic combinations in Semitic and Egyptian are preserved in the corresponding UA meanings. Besides the examples below, many more are at 7.2 in the book.
(283) Eg qm’ ‘create’ and ‘mourn’ > UA ‘make, create’ and ‘mourn’
(332) Egyptian qrђt ‘serpent’, Egyptian qrђ ‘friend, partner’ > UA/Nahuatl koŋwa ‘snake, twin’
(406) Egyptian b’ ‘ram, soul’ > UA *pa’a ‘mountain sheep, all living beings’
(98) Hebrew rqʕ ‘stamp, beat out (metal), spread out’; Hebrew raaqiiaʕ ‘extended surface, expanse, sky’
> UA *tukuN- in * tukuN-pa ‘sky’ and ‘metal’ in the Takic languages.
(994) Ls qáya/i- ‘blow down (a tree)’ (which is the same result as ‘uproot’)
and Ls qáya/i- ‘heal’ are listed as separate verbs in the Luiseño dictionary, though phonologically identical, yet the corresponding Syriac verb ʕqr also means both ‘uproot’ and ‘heal’ (ʕǝqar or -ʕqar > qayV).
Stress in UA prehistory is a complex issue, which the data in this work may have some potential to help clarify. In Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary, I wrote “In the reconstructions I do not deal with vowel length, only vowel quality and consonants. Figuring out PUA vowel length may fill another lifetime, but not mine. Reduced consonant clusters with compensatory vowel lengthening underlie some long vowels in UA, raising doubts about vowel length until the medial clusters are clarified. That and changing stress patterns—causing vowel lengthening with stress, or shortening or syncope without stress, in the various branches and languages through the layers of time—make the puzzle of PUA vowel-length quite unappealing to me, if not presently impractical” (Stubbs 2011, 1). Likewise in the book, only vowel quality, but not vowel length, is represented in the UA reconstructions, though I will say the following about stress.
Proto-Semitic *bas2ar ‘flesh’ > Hebrew bááśaar ‘flesh, penis’; Aramaic bǝśár ‘flesh’; Arabic bašar. Note that in UA the originally stressed vowels retain their quality, while the unstressed vowels do their typical unstressed schwa-like centralizing behavior, which in UA is V > ï or i. Hebrew’s stress on the first syllable shows kw-Semitic (Hebrew / Phoenician) bááśaar ‘flesh, penis’ > UA *kwasi ‘tail, penis’ (5); yet Aramaic’s stress on the 2nd syllable has p-Semitic (Aramaic-like) bǝśár > UA pisa ‘penis’ (550). In both cases the originally stressed á remains a, but unstressed a > i in both cases, regardless the present or intervening stress patterns of the various languages’ reflexes. See also Hopi in 174, and stress-related details in 611, 933, 1015, 1056 (in the book).
Works establishing language relationships often include only matches of reconstructable forms with identical meanings, and then later are added probable matches, but less than identical meanings. However, (1) I cannot assume the luxury of such a lifespan; and (2) am tired of writing huge, detailed reference works after 30 years of doing so; and (3) I care not to exclude probabilities to be added later in yet another huge detailed reference work. So, if the reader prefers, (s)he can toss the 100 or so of less than identical meanings, and consider only the other 1400 matches. However, I include from the start what I consider reasonable, and will leave it to coming generations to do whatever debating and sorting they think best. Nevertheless, I do identify those sets with [iddddua] meaning ‘if desired, delay differing definitions until acceptance’. Yet the less-then-identical semantic inclusions have changed meaning in understandable ways:
(734) Hebrew mə-ṣuudat ‘net, prey’ i.e., game > UA *masat / *masot ‘deer’;
(720) Hebrew nebεl ‘skin-bottle, skin’ in the common phrase of Hebrew nebεl yayin ‘skin of wine’;
Syriac nbl / n’bl > Classical Nahuatl no’pal-li ‘prickly pear’ which was used to make alcoholic beverage; so as Semitic ‘skin/bottle’ (container) came to mean the fermentable substance in UA, so also ‘the bottle’ is used for alcoholic reference in English too!
*tusu ‘grind’ with loss of 1st C in a cluster Yq kitte / kittasu ‘grind’
*ma’ta ‘mortar, grinding stone’
(675) Hebrew ђnp ‘limp’; Arabic ђnp ‘have distorted foot, be curved, pigeon-toed, walk bow-legged with toes inward’ (like turtles, badgers, and bears) > UA *hunap- ‘badger, bear’; Arabic uses this stem for ‘tortoise’ and ‘chameleon’ while the UA match is ‘badger’ and ‘bear’ all having similar turned-in feet;
(724) Semitic parʕoš ‘flea (jumper)’ (from the Semitic verb prʕš ‘jump’) > UA *par’osi / *paro’osi ‘jackrabbit’; the jackrabbit, like the flea, is also a jumper, and in UA *paro’osi ‘jackrabbit’ we see all 4 consonants and 2 identical vowels in two of the most extraordinary jumpers of the animal kingdom.
Though a first introduction, this initial investigation into Uto-Aztecan ties with Near-Eastern languages yields numerous consistencies and hundreds of lexical similarities for each dimension. Many language relationships/families have been established with one-tenth of what is presented in the book. Some Semiticists might question an assumed lack of the common Semitic words. I say assumed, because many common Semitic words do appear in UA, though less common ones became more prevalent. Some are indeed missing—Hebrew yad ‘hand’ and šmʕ ‘hear’—but for others, it is more a matter of reversals of prominence than lack: e.g., the common Hebrew ʕayn ‘eye’ does have rare appearance in UA, while the rare Semitic bṣr ‘see/eye’ serves as the common UA word for ‘eye’; the common Hebrew ’iiš ‘man’ and ’išaa ‘woman’ are found in UA, but not as prominently as Semitic *đakar ‘male, man’ > UA *taka ‘man’ and Hebrew ђaberet > UA *hupi ‘woman’, which are more common in UA.
Some may question citing cognate forms from various Semitic languages instead of only one, but it is quite acceptable. For example, what we have of Classical Hebrew vocabulary in existing texts is but a fraction of what existed in the spoken dialect(s); so when a match with the expected Hebrew reflex of an existing Arabic form is found, for example, there is little reason to doubt its existence in the ancient spoken cognate language Hebrew. In fact, that is what the philologists who compiled the Hebrew lexicons have always done: validate the Hebrew terms based on cognate terms. There is no word for squirrel in the Hebrew Old Testament, yet two Arabic words for squirrel are in UA, whose sound correspondences match unattested Hebrew cognates: e.g. (57) Arabic singaab = Hebrew *siggoob > UA sikkuC ‘squirrel’. Another example is Semitic *km’ ‘truffle’ (575) found in both Arabic to the south and Ugaritic (of Northwest Semitic) to the north, so the term’s existence in Hebrew, located between the two, would be likely, even though Old Testament authors had no occasion to talk about truffles either.
Of interest are the Aramaic features (section 8 in book), Aramaic vocabulary and many nouns with the Aramaic masculine definite article suffix -aa’ fossilized into the forms, besides the productive UA *-ta suffix which resembles and behaves similarly to Aramaic’s feminine article suffix *-taa’ ‘the’. For example, (618) Aramaic di’b-aa ‘wolf-the’ is the source of UA *tï’pa ‘wolf’, not the Hebrew cognate hazzǝ’eb ‘wolf’; on pages 3 and 4 are other UA terms from Aramaic, but not Hebrew. Regarding the kw-NWSem and the p-NWSem, we might try to assign the Phoenician/Hebrew similarities to one and the Aramaic to the other; however, both seem to have some items with Aramaic morphology, though the p- NWSem more so. Though data on most dialects of Northwest Semitic is limited, if available at all, some scholars (Young 1993, 54-62, 85-86) note that Aramaic did influence the dialects of ancient Israel, especially northern Israel.
Rendsburg (1997) refers to “Israelian [northern kingdom] Hebrew as a dialect bundle, because almost certainly there were minor differences ... the Galilean variety no doubt shared many features with Phoenician and with Aramaic too. However, the available data generally do not allow us to isolate such minor differences” (Rendsburg 1997, 67). I might add that the differences may not all have been minor.
Relative to the kw-NWSemitic language and the p-NWSemitic infusion, we have a good start in sorting the two, but that process is not complete. Their separate sound correspondences in many instances (5.1) have helped to distinguish many lexical items’ affiliation, whether of the kw-NWSem or p-NWSem. However, as both have similar correspondences for some common sounds like s, t, m, etcetera, some items resist sorting; thus, the matter can be opaque enough at times that the sorting is not complete. Anyone can help, and the availability of the book’s sizable corpus of raw data provides potential for many studies.
As to the original look of these diffused elements transplanted into the Americas, much remains to be clarified about the processes of language mixing, fossilizations, trimming, and molding into this unique result called Uto-Aztecan. Of course, every language mix is a unique product, though the processes toward such results often share commonalities. We mentioned earlier some Yiddish parallels to Uto-Aztecan. In both Yiddish and UA, the Semitic items fit into a larger non-Semitic grammar. Kerler (1999, 9) explains that “the Germanic derivational machinery sets the major patterns for the morphological and to some degree syntactical integration of the other components” (of Yiddish). Likewise, in UA the fossilized Semitic pieces have largely been put into a larger non-Semitic grammar to a great degree. Bakker and Muysken (1995) explain that it is typical in language mixes that the vocabulary of one language largely fills the grammatical framework of another. In UA, a sizable Near-Eastern vocabulary fills whatever grammar, fitting the
description of language mixes better than Yiddish does, for in Yiddish, German provides both most of the framework and most of the vocabulary and pronouns, while in UA, the Semitic infusions contribute most pronouns and much vocabulary. Another parallel is that both involve a smaller Semitic-speaking population transplanted into a foreign land amidst
other larger populations. The linguistic pressures from larger languages upon a smaller group normally exert a heavy influence on the minority language, at the least, if not lead to language loss via the complete adoption of the larger language(s). Examples are many. Native American languages have been heavily subject to the recently arrived European languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese or French. Many have succumbed to language loss, and even the surviving languages show the effects of European language influence. Yiddish, the language of central European Jews (originally Mediterranean Jews), results from the original Hebrew-Aramaic idiom being subject to many centuries of mostly German influence, as well as Slavic and other languages, collecting words from various stopping places along the way. Kriwaczek (2006, 40-48), Weinreich (1980), and Harshaw (1990, 5-7) outline its evolution from Roman Empire times, spreading from Greece, Italy and France into Slavic- and German-speaking areas and elsewhere by the first millenium’s end. Harshaw (1990, 32) and Weinreich (1980, 34) note Leo Wiener’s percentages as 70% German, 20% Semitic, and 10% Slavic. Other estimates similarly put the Semitic component between 15-25%, so the great majority of the vocabulary is from outside influences, mostly German. Kriwaczek (2006, 114) cites Wexler’s (1993) view that much of the Hebrew might be of later adoption from written sources via Judaic religious instruction, education, and culture. If so, the implication is that without written sources, much less or very little Semitic would have survived to the present.
Uto-Aztecan’s percentage of Near-Eastern components remains to be determined and tallied, though at first glance, UA’s percentage of Near-Eastern components seems to exceed Yiddish’s Near-Eastern percentage easily. The author’s book, Uto-Actecan: A Comparative Vocabulary (2011), includes some 2700 Uto-Aztecan cognate sets. Those with substantial similarity to Semitic or Egyptian, and according to the proposed sound correspondences, are about 30%. But for common words or the more widespread/frequent UA words, about 60% align with Near Eastern etymologies.
In 7.1 (in the book) we see a large amount of the common vocabulary (animals, body parts, nouns of nature) in UA from the Near Eastern sources. As for other vocabulary, among the 2700 Uto-Aztecan cognate sets, the vast majority of those sets have cognates or reflexes, that is, descendant words in less than half of the 30 UA languages. Only 45 cognate sets have reflexes in nearly all 30 UA languages or appear in all 8 of the 8 UA branches. Yet 26 of those 45 sets appear in the Near-East sets (see 7.7 in the book). That amounts to about 60% of the widespread UA words. In other words, Semitic and Egyptian seem prominent in the origins of UA.
In fact, all three of the idioms mentioned (the kw-NWSemitic and p-NWSemitic and Egyptian) appear to have contributed to common UA words found in all branches. From kw-NWSemitic are (4) UA *kwasï ‘cook, boil, ripen’ and (5) UA *kwasi ‘tail, penis’; from p-NWSemitic are (532) UA *pusi ‘eye’ and (531) UA *pow ‘road’; and from Egyptian are (276) UA *omwa ‘salt’ and (519) UA *man ‘hand’. It appears that all three were present in what is called Proto-Uto- Aztecan, the original mixture from which the UA languages descend. Some may object, citing glottochronology’s presumed time-depth of 5,000 years for UA, but holding fast to glottochronological estimates is more a hobby of anthropologists, archaeologists, and non-specialists than of linguists. Most linguists know better and view glottochronological estimates like colds—they usually pass with little permanent damage.
Language mixture may also explain many final vowels in UA, a final vowel added to the traditional Semitic form. The phonologies of some languages do not allow ending words with consonants, but must end with a vowel and thus a vowel is added to consonant-final foreign words. Arends, Kowenberg, and Smith (1995, 103-4) note such a tendency (to add final vowels) for most Surinam creoles: sneki ‘snake’; poti ‘put’.
One might also wonder how verb-initial languages like Hebrew and Egyptian (VSO) could morph to verb-final languages like UA. First of all, Biblical Aramaic is largely verb-final. Changes in syntax are not unusual, but, in fact, frequent. Perhaps the three most common causes of such change seem to be the case for UA as well. First, topicalization as a fronting tool can help bring nouns (subjects and objects) to the front, turning original verb-initial patterns into noun- initial syntactic patterns. This actually happened in the history of Egyptian—changes away from VSO (verb initial in early Egyptian) to other constructions in later Egyptian due to topicalization patterns. Second, UA’s use of the Hebrew ha- ‘interrogative prefix’ (609) may be an example. The Hebrew ha- ‘interrogative prefix’ is first element in Hebrew yes- no questions, while the UA *ha- ‘interrogative particle’ is usually second element in UA sentences, and interestingly the first element is always a noun. Both facts are quite consistent with each other, because a topicalization of a noun followed by a question about it essentially reveals the Hebrew structure, yet also explains its consistent second position in UA: My sandal—is it in the house? Third, being among (neighbors to, surrounded by) verb-final languages (SOV) would change most languages to become SOV after a few centuries, and SOV is probably the most frequent word order among North American Indian languages. Fourth, there are non-SOV and even VSO patterns in some UA languages.
As mentioned, a salient implication suggested by the data is that Egyptian and two dialects of Northwest Semitic and other unknowns, likely of American origin, had merged by Proto-Uto-Aztecan times. Such is admittedly a strange combination, but many languages are strange combinations. We mentioned Modern English keeping only 15% of the Old English vocabulary (Baugh and Cable 1978, 55), having replaced the other 85% with infusions from French and Latin, etc. In fact, the centuries subsequent to the Norman French conquest of A.D. 1066 saw such a thorough mixing of Norman French with Old English that Modern English is as much a mix of Old English and Norman French as border Spanish or “Spanglish” is a mix of English and Spanish. Though most of our common words are from Old English, the percentages of a printed page would contain comparable amounts of French, and an unabridged dictionary would show much more Latin and French in modern English than what survived from Old English into modern English. Though the details differ from language to language, many languages are mixtures to varying degrees.
Of course, much more investigating, data-collecting, sorting, cross-checking, analyses, discussion, etcetera, must yet take place, and objective discussion is welcome. Let the open-minded help with the refining scrutiny and help truth emerge. Academicians claim to be seekers of truth, and minus a few duped by reality-challenged philosophers deeming truth to be ever relative or non-existent, the rest of us should work toward it.
Academicians supposedly encourage open-minded, independent thought or critical thinking, yet they often construe critical thinking to mean rethinking the values system of one’s upbringing, apparently confident that students will ‘see the light’ and be ‘liberated’ from the presumed ‘mythologies’ of religion or traditional values, but academics’ responses are less than enthusiastic should such an investigation confirm what they were sure could not be so. When evidence is presented to suggest conclusions outside their paradigms, such as pre-Columbian transoceanic crossings or Semitic speakers in ancient America, many of their reactions show their paradigms to be as dogmatic as they think religious ones are.
A very interesting difference between the p-NWSem and the kw-NWSem is that p-NWSem kept ʕ and ġ distinct, and kept ђ and x distinct, whereas the kw-NWSem did the known Northwest Semitic mergers of ђ and x to ђ, and also the merger of ʕ and ġ to ʕ. Among some Israelites, if not all, this merger occurred sometime between 300 BC and the first centuries AD (Blau 1998, 12, 30). The fact that the p-NWSem shows the distinction in contrast to the kw-NWSem having merged them, losing the distinction, could be interpreted as a difference in time depth—that the p-NWSem separated earlier from the Near-East and the kw-NWSem later. However, that would not need to be the case. The fact that the Phoenician alphabet has two letters for the four sounds suggests that the merger had already taken place in Phoenician by the development of the Phoenician alphabet (1200 BC or earlier), whereas Israelite Hebrew bore with using some symbols to represent two sounds each (ʕayn for ʕ and ġ, ђeyṭ for ђ and x, šin for š and ś) for a millennium or so. Thus, the Phoenician merger of the four Proto-Semitic consonants to two happened a millennium before the Israelite merger of the four to two. If the kw-NWSemitic speakers came on a Phoenician vessel, that would explain their merger and much else.
Much remains to be worked out, but less than remained to be figured out in UA previously, as these data explain much that was not explainable before; for example, 6.1-6.5 in the book explain 5 previous puzzles. As well, the specific Egyptian and Semitic data may eventually help identify the Old World times and places from whence these dialects came.
This corpus may provide enough promising data for varieties of other analytical studies. For example, the p- Northwest Semitic *ti’na ‘mouth’ (< Aramaic diqn-aa, 617) vs. kw-Northwest Semitic ca’lo ‘chin’ (< Hebrew zaaqn-o ‘chin-his’, 628), from the same set of Semitic cognates, offer a potential to illuminate much. Several other pairs of the same word, one from each, provide examples of the potential.
Keep in mind, as if 1500 matches were not enough, that there is another way to know whether this is a valid case or not: if it be truth, then this is only the beginning of findings.
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Background: Brian’s interest in languages followed a two-year attempt to learn Navajo, which made everything else seem easier. He was first a Semiticist, taking Hebrew, Arabic, and Egyptian courses during his B.A. from BYU. He began graduate work in Semitic languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic) at the University of Utah. A professor suggested that he take a linguistics course, which he found so interesting that he switched to linguistics, and completed an M.A. in linguistics. U of U was a primary center for Uto-Aztecan (UA) studies at the time, providing Brian a good foundation in comparative UA. During that time he could not help but notice a few hundred similarities between UA and Semitic, with sound correspondences, etc. After an M.A. in linguistics, he resumed his studies in Near Eastern languages and completed the coursework and comprehensive exams for a PhD (ABD) in Semitic languages and linguistics, though his primary research interests remained in UA. After publishing a few articles in the International Journal of American Linguistics and elsewhere, he decided that articles are too haphazard a way of scattering one’s ideas to the four winds with hopes that subsequent scholars would have the patience to gather them together for a cohesive picture of one’s thoughts on a matter—too optimistic and not likely. So he finished a three-decade effort to produce the comparative reference book Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary. Brian’s UA works preceding this book have been well received by other UA specialists. While the arrival of this Near-East tie with UA has most wishing to ignore it, a brave few have voiced very positive assessments.
Roger William Wescott, first in his Princeton class, PhD in linguistics, Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, President of the Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States, author of 500 articles and 40 books, called Brian’s work “a strong link between the Uto- Aztecan and Afro-Asiatic languages”. David H. Kelley, Harvard PhD who published in anthropology, linguistics, Uto-Aztecan, and contributed to the decipherment of the Mayan glyphs, said upon receiving an earlier draft: “The thick thing came in the mail and I did not want to tackle it, but dutifully opened it, intending to look at a page or two. However, I started to read and ended up reading the whole thing. It is the most interesting and significant piece of research I have seen in years.” Mary Ritchie Key, and two PhD linguists specializing in UA, all spoke well of it. John S. Robertson, a leading Mayanist and Harvard trained PhD in historical linguistics, also speaks highly of the strength of this case.