Chitimacha

Introduction

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Chitimacha (Sitimaxa; ISO-639: ctm, Glottolog: chit1248) is a language isolate of southern Louisiana. Even though the last native speaker of the language died in 1940, the Chitimacha Tribe is undergoing active language revitalization efforts based on documentary materials collected by John R. Swanton and Morris Swadesh in the early 1900s. Today children take daily Chitimacha language classes at the tribal school. I have worked with the Chitimacha Tribe since 2008 on various language revitalization projects, including Rosetta Stone language software, a dictionary, and pedagogical materials for the classroom. I have also researched on numerous aspects of the grammar and history of the language, including the diachronic development of preverbs (2014a, 2014b, forthcoming), valency and transitivity (2016, 2017), and grammatical relations and semantic alignment (i.e. agent-patient alignment; 2014, in revision).

Names for Chitimacha

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The name ‘Chitimacha’ has been written numerous ways over the centuries. Only in the latter half of the 20th Century, as a result of several publications by Morris Swadesh (esp. 1934, 1946), was the English name for the language standardized as ‹Chitimacha›. This fact sometimes makes it difficult to locate and recognize mentions of the Chitimacha in older documents. The following list is meant to help address this problem, by providing all known orthographic representations of the word Chitimacha before Swadesh, and their attested sources.

About the Annotated Bibliography

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The following bibliography aims to be a comprehensive list of the Chitimacha language, its grammar, and its history. It is a work in progress, and I update it whenever possible. It includes the following types of sources:

  1. Primary: audiovisual recordings, field notes, or firsthand accounts of the Chitimacha language
  2. Secondary: grammatical descriptions, dictionaries, and text collections of the language, as well as articles or other sources that include some Chitimacha data, including comparative historical studies
  3. Tertiary: general reference works such as encyclopedias, bibliographies, and language surveys, as well as Chitimacha data included as part of large typological or historical studies
  4. Minor: sources in which Chitimacha is mentioned but do not rely on data from the language

Annotated Bibliography

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Primary Sources

  • Bradford, Mary M. 1906. Letter to Grace Nicholson (Grace Nicholson Papers and Addenda, Correspondence A-B Box 1). San Marino, CA: Huntington Library.

    Notes

    A letter from Mary M. Bradford to Grace Nicholson concerning a set of Chitimacha baskets that Bradford was sending to Nicholson. At the end of the letter is is a list of drawings of the different patterns of basket, along with their Chitimacha name and English translation. The transcription of the Chitimacha is English-based.

    The text of the letter is as follows:

    "My dear Miss Nicholson,

    Let me thank you for your letter and the check for $35.00 in payment of the next of twelve double weave box shape baskets, made by old Clara Darden, of the Chetimaches Indians. She is the oldest indian[?] of her her tribe being nearly 100 years old with but one eye and one tooth. So it is not often that she feels well enough to work on her baskets, and she was more than a year making this next of 12 baskets. In 1901 when I began this Indian work, Old Clara was the only woman in the tribe who could make a perfect basket. There were two or three who had learned when they were younger but had not made any baskets for years as there was no demand for them, and they knew nothing of shipping[?] them, so they no longer made any. When my friend [Hlm?] F. K.[?] Doubleday of New York offered 15.00 to be divided into three prizes for the first perfect basket made by any of the Chetimaches women or girls. I undertook to see it done, and had old Clara Darden show them what kinds of reed cane to gather then how to split the cane. (they split it with their <u>teeth</u> when I asked old Clara how she could do it with only one tooth she said her gums were so hard she split it with them.) then what roots to gather and how to make with them the red, yellow, & black dyes, then how to dye the cane, and then how to weave [things?] beautiful double & single weave baskets with their many beautiful patterns on them, all them[?], this old woman taught the young women and girls. and it is for that reason that I am so [???] that her work should be placed in one of the large museums, with her name on it and a card telling what <u>she</u> has done for her tribe that she has in teaching the young women, preserved for them a most beautiful art that is all their own, that has been handed down to them from time immemorial by their ancestors. The Indian line on the Bayou Teche, when the first white people found them with a large village, and their large tract of land which surrounded their village was granted by Spain & France, and confirmed by the U.S.A. at the "Treaty of Paris." all in recognition of their services to the colonists. I am sending you under separate cover a photograph of Clara Darden at work splitting the canes. After splitting them with her hands as she is doing in the picture, she with her teeth peels off the out side of the cane, & that is what she makes her baskets of. The photograph is [5-0??] etc. I have made out a list of I think (or nearly as I can remember) the 12 patterns on the next of baskets with their indian name and meaning. If any of these patterns are not on the baskets, make an out line of the pattern that is, and send it to me & I will send you its name and meaning.

    I am very sorry you were disappointed in the large [han?pen?]. and I don't see how you could have "believed them half the size and double weave," as I wrote you giving a [non?le] sketch of their shape. and exact measurement of each. The only <u>large</u> <u>double</u> weave basket the Chetimaches make is trunk shape with canes 25in long 18in high 17in wide price 30.00. Old Clara has with another woman made two of them since I have started the work and [she made for me] [hone?] the other is sold. I hope all this will help you in selling the rest of baskets to some museums. With good wishes for your work. Very sincerely,

    Mary M. Bradford (Mrs. Sidney Bradford)

  • Bushnell, D. I. 1917. The Chitimacha Indians of Bayou La Fourche, Louisiana. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 7(10): 301–307.

    Notes

    Bushnell provides a brief overview of Chitimacha culture, and one Chitimacha word (<i>gah-mail'</i> 'bowl', p. 304, although this term is suspect because Chitimacha was not known to contain an /l/ phoneme; it may however be related to <i>gah-</i> 'bite', with the pluractional <i>-ma</i>). The information comes from an interview with Abel Billiot, a Chitimacha man from the village Point-au-Chien. Bushnell also states that the Chitimacha at that time were divided into two groups - one in the west around Charenton, and another situated on Bayou La Fourche.

  • du Pratz, Le Page. 1757. The history of Louisiana, or of the western parts of Virginia and Carolina, Vol. 1. London.

    Notes

    The Chitimacha are not included in du Pratz' map, but Chapter XI (p. 130 ff.) is 'The war with the Chitimachas', but includes only a brief summary paragraph of events that preceded du Pratz' arrival in the colony.

  • Stouff, Emile. 1986. Chitimacha notebook: Writings of Emile Stouff, a Chitimacha Chief. Lafayette, LA: Lafayette Natural History Museum & Planetarium.

    Notes

    Includes the Chitimacha story of creation, a brief history of the Chitimacha, and a list of previous publications about the Chitimacha people. James Crawford reports eliciting 14 words from Emile Stouff in 1969 (Crawford 1975), but no Chitimacha data are included in this book.

  • Hoover, Herbert T. 1975. The Chitimacha people. Phoenix: Indian Tribal Series.

    Notes

    A short history and anthropology of the Chitimacha people. Includes the occasional word in Chitimacha, but otherwise the language is not discussed much.

Secondary Sources

Tertiary Sources

Minor Sources

  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2000. Classifiers: A typology of noun categorization devices (Oxford Studies in Typology & Linguistic Theory). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Abstract

    Almost all languages have some grammatical means for categorizing nouns. This book provides a comprehensive and original analysis of noun categorization devices all over the world. It will interest typologists, those working in the fields of morphosyntactic variation and lexical semantics, as well as anthropologists and all other scholars interested in the mechanisms of human cognition.

    Notes

    Following Campbell (1997:342), Aikhenvald analyses Chitimacha as having a set of "suppletive classificatory verbs" which alternate on the basis of position, orientation, or stance in space.

  • Amberber, Mengistu & Peter Collins. 2002. Language universals and variation (Perspectives on Cognitive Science). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

    Notes

    Data from Swadesh (1946:318) is used to illustrate that Chitimacha forms causatives of 'eat' and 'drink' (verbs of ingestion) via suppletion.

  • Aoki, H. 1970. A note on glottalized consonants. Phonetica 21: 65–74.

    Notes

    Aoki lists Chitimacha as an example of a language with glottalized continuants, which he says are rare crosslinguistically.

  • Austin, Peter K. & Julia Sallabank (eds.). 2011. The Cambridge handbook of endangered languages (Cambridge Handbooks in Language & Linguistics). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Abstract

    It is generally agreed that about 7,000 languages are spoken across the world today and at least half may no longer be spoken by the end of this century. This state-of-the-art Handbook examines the reasons behind this dramatic loss of linguistic diversity, why it matters, and what can be done to document and support endangered languages. The volume is relevant not only to researchers in language endangerment, language shift and language death, but to anyone interested in the languages and cultures of the world. It is accessible both to specialists and non-specialists: researchers will find cutting-edge contributions from acknowledged experts in their fields, while students, activists and other interested readers will find a wealth of readable yet thorough and up-to-date information.

    Notes

    Swadesh (1934, 1946) is cited as stating that Chitimacha allows for free variation between glottalized and unglottalized consonants (p. 112, 114), and the analysis here is that this is a case of loss of phonological contrast due to language obsolescence.

  • Baerman, Matthew, Dunstan Brown & Greville G. Corbett (eds.). 2005. The syntax-morphology interface: A study of syncretism (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 109). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Abstract

    Syncretism – where a single form serves two or more morphosyntactic functions – is a persistent problem at the syntax–morphology interface. It results from a ‘mismatch’ whereby the syntax of a language makes a particular distinction, but the morphology does not. This pioneering book provides the first full-length study of inflectional syncretism, pre- senting a typology of its occurrence across a wide range of languages. The implications of syncretism for the syntax–morphology interface have long been recognized: it argues either for an enriched model of feature structure (thereby preserving a direct link between function and form), or for the independence of morphological structure from syntactic structure. This book presents a compelling argument for the autonomy of morph- ology, and the resulting analysis is illustrated in a series of formal case studies within Network Morphology. It will be welcomed by all linguists interested in the relation between words and the larger units of which they are a part.

    Notes

    Chitimacha is listed as an example of a language with a syncretism between 2nd and 3rd person, independent of number.

  • Barbour, James. 1826. War Department circular (American Philosophical Society Historical and Literary Committee, American Indian Vocabulary Collection Mss.497.V85). Typed circular. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of War.

    Abstract

    Freeman and Smith 1973. Duplicate in Broadside Collection, no. 112.

    Notes

    A letter circulated by the U.S. Department of War in 1826, requesting that vocabularies of Native American languages be collected wherever possible, based on the accompanying 280-word list (compiled by Thomas Jefferson). As a result of this circular, many of the earliest attested sources of Native languages of the United States consist of a Jefferson list, including the Chitimacha. Martin Duralde acquired a translation of the words on the Jefferson list into Chitimacha in 1802. Enclosed notes are a comparative vocabulary (possibly Jefferson's), as well as a list of verbal forms and sentences. The letter recommends using 'the plan proposed by Mr. Pickering' for orthography, but asks respondents to accompany their list with a key to the phonetics as well. A third enclosure is Gallatin's attempt to 'arrange the dialects' according to language. This would be his 1828[?] publication.

  • Blevins, Juliette. 2007. Endangered sound patterns: Three perspectives on theory and description. Language Documentation & Conservation 1(1): 1–16.

    Abstract

    In this essay, I highlight the important role of endangered language documentation and description in the study of sound patterns. Three different perspectives are presented: a long view of phonology, from ancient to modern traditions; an areal and genetic view of sound patterns, and their relation to theory and description; and a practical perspective on the importance of research on endangered sound patterns. All perspectives converge on a common theme: the most lasting and influential contributions to the field are those with seamless boundaries between description and analysis.

    Notes

    Chitimacha is mentioned as a language having gone extinct.

  • Boas, Franz. 1932. Letter to John R. Swanton, May 13, 1932 (Franz Boas Papers: Inventory (S) Mss.B.B61.inventory12). Typed correspondence. Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society Library.

    Notes

    Franz Boas writes to John R. Swanton requesting any information he has regarding the Chitimacha language, for the "investigator" to use (likely meaning whichever of Boas' students he chose to send - in this case, Morris Swadesh).

    > "You will remember that when we went over the question of linguistic field work last, we thought that some field work on the Gulf Coast might be desirable, and that particularly Shetimasha should be more fully investigated. Would you be good enough to let me know just what you have, and any directions that you could give to the investigator so that he may find the proper person with the least delay."

  • Bowern, Claire & Bethwyn Evans (eds.). 2015. The Routledge handbook of historical linguistics (Routledge Handbooks in Linguistics). London: Routledge.

    Abstract

    The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics provides a state-of-the-art survey of this well-established ? eld of linguistics. Thanks to recent technological advances and the rise in availability of large-scale datasets, the importance of diachrony as a key to understanding human language has been reinforced. This Handbook unites an international group of scholars with expertise in a range of ? elds relating to the study of language change, and their chapters encompass: • an overview of the main current and critical trends • the methods which underpin current work • an analysis of the relationship between the diachronic and synchronic study of the topic • models of language change • examples from primary data • the importance of historical linguistics for other sub? elds of linguistics and other disciplines. Focusing on the synthesis of work on synchrony and diachrony and bringing together diverse aspects of work that relate to language change, this Handbook is essential reading for researchers and postgraduate students working in this area.

    Notes

    The Chitimacha-Totozoquean hypothesis of Brown, Wichmann, & Beck (2014) is noted as being the result of the more recent availability of large, reliable data (p. 65).

  • Brenzinger, Matthias (ed.). 2007. Language diversity endangered (Trends in Linguistics, Studies & Monographs 181). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

    Abstract

    The present volume aims to familiarize interested readers with the extent and variation of the accelerating phenomena of language endangerment. They will find global overviews on endangered languages in chapters dealing with all major geographic regions of the world. These contribu- tions provide insights into the specific areal dynamics of language endan- germent, past and present. In addition, the authors discuss numerous key issues concerning the documentation of endangered languages. This book is aimed not only at scholars and students from the various sub-disciplines of linguistics, but also addresses issues that are relevant to educators, lan- guage planners, policy makers, language activists, historians and other re- searchers in human science. The volume comprises updated versions of presentations from the Colloquium Language Endangerment, Research and Documentation Setting Priorities for the 21st Century held in Bad Godesberg from Feb- ruary 12th17th, 2000 and sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation. Be- sides the present publication, the colloquium had a substantial impact on the genesis of the UNESCO report Language Vitality and Endanger- ment, as well as the Recommendations for Action Plans. Between 2001 and 2003, a UNESCO ad-hoc expert group on endangered languages (co-chaired by Akira Yamamoto and Matthias Brenzinger) collaborated with the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Section in Paris to draft a preliminary version.

    Notes

    Chitimacha is listed as one of the language isolates of North America.

  • Broadwell, George Aaron. 2006. A Choctaw reference grammar (Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians). Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.

    Notes

    Broadwell mentions briefly that Haas (1951, 1952) considered the possibility that Chitimacha was distantly related to Muskogean.

  • Hymes, Dell H. 1976. ‘The Americanist tradition’, in Chafe, Wallace L. (ed.), American Indian languages and American linguistics. Lisse: Peter De Ridder Press.

    Notes

    Hymes discusses the fact that much of our work on Native American languages is dependent on the earlier research of just one or two scholars, and gives Chitimacha as an example (p. 13). Most all work on Chitimacha after 1930 is based on Swadesh's fieldwork and handful of publications about the language.

  • Moravcsik, Edith A. 1978. ‘Agreement’, in Greenberg, Joseph H. (ed.), Universals of human language, Vol. 4: Syntax. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Abstract

    With a working definition of grammatical agreement proposed and the questions seen as pertinent to the study of agreement phenomena listed, a crosslinguistic survey of three types of agreement features - gender, number, and person - is presented on the followed by some crosslinguistic generalizations about agreeing constituents. The theory according to which agreement markers and anaphoric pronouns are grammatically derived by the same types of rules is informally shown to be predictive of some of the restrictions observed both in respect to agreement features and agreeing constituents.

    Notes

    Moravcsik notes that only human nouns are marked for plural in Chitimacha (but not all human nouns; p. 352). She also notes that plural pronominal markers differ both from each other and from nominal plural marking (p. 354). She cites Swadesh (1946) for both points.

  • Ultan, Russell. 1978. ‘Some general characteristics of interrogative systems’, in Greenberg, Joseph H. (ed.), Universals of human language, Vol. 4: Syntax. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Abstract

    Devices used to mark questions and certain types of tab questions in 79 random randomly chosen languages are examined in terms of features of intonation and word accent, order and segmental elements as well as parameters of expected response (yes-no, information, alternative questions) and of grammatical domain (word, sentence). Intonation in yes-no questions typically consists of a rising or higher-pitched or -stressed terminal contour, always in prepositional languages and nearly always in postpositional. The same is true of information questions but to a lesser extent. Question words generally tend to be marked by higher pitch or greater stress, particularly in SOV languages. Yes-no-question inversion results in VSO constituent order. In information-question inversion question words are almost always sentence-initial in SVO and VSO languages, while in SOV languages there is a tendency to maintain neutral declarative order. These favored orders reflect topicalization of the verb in yes-no questions and of the nonverbal constituent in information questions. Question particles are usually sentence-initial or -final, the latter especially in SOV languages. There appear to be no general restrictions on the cooccurrence of question particles with either interrogative inversion or question words. Most tag questions contain negative markers. The response to a confirmation-requesting tag question generally mirrors the affirmative or negative mode of the declarative portion of the question, thus reaffirming its truth value.

    Notes

    Chitimacha is listed as a language with a terminal prosodic fall in polar interrogatives (pp. 220, 234).

  • Herrell, David M. 1997. A description of the linguistic and cultural situation of the Houma Indians of south Louisiana. M.A. thesis. Linguistics, Louisiana State University.

    Notes

    The Chitimacha are mentioned as being able to trace their original homestead to within Louisiana borders (p. 1). Kniffen et al. (1987:75) state that some Chitimacha took refuge with the Houma during the 1900s (p. 7), and that French had largely replaced Chitimacha (Kniffen et al. 1987:126; cited on p. 18). Dreschel (1996) states that the Chitimacha used Mobilian Jargon (p. 11-12).

  • Jackson, Jason Baird & Raymond D Fogelson. 2004. ‘Introduction’, in , Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 14: Southeast. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.

    Notes

    Chitimacha, along with Atakapa, Biloxi, Timucua, and Seminole, are mentioned as having been analyzed by Wissesr (1938) as having "economic systems that were less dependent on corn and used aquatic foods to a greater degree." (p. 5) Kroeber also included Chitimacha in the Southeast culture area (p. 6). Swanton took Chitimacha basketry to be one of the highlights of regional cultural development (p. 7), and he includes them in the Southeastern area (1946).

  • Drechsel, Emanuel J. 1994. ‘Mobilian Jargon in the "prehistory" of Southeastern North America’, in Kwachka, Patricia B. (ed.), Perspectives on the Southeast: Linguistics, archaeology, and ethnohistory. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

    Notes

    Drechsel states that Chitimacha may have been an influence on Mobilian Jargon (p. 26).

  • Speck, Frank G. 1907. Some outlines of Aboriginal culture in the Southeastern States. American Anthropologist 9(2): 287–295.

    Notes

    Speck mentions that the Chitimacha are known for having practiced head-flattening (p. 294).

  • Swanton, John R. 1935. Notes on the cultural province of the Southeast. American Anthropologist 37(3): 373–385.

    Notes

    Swanton describes the cultures of the Southeast and their shared traits. He surmises that the Chitimacha population was originally more densely situated along the coast than the interior, but later moved inland (p. 376). He also states that the Chitimacha have the best basketry techniques, and treats this artistic ability as a mark of high civilization.

  • Wissler, Clark. 1922. The American Indian: An introduction to the anthropology of the New World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Notes

    The Chitimacha have greater use of aquatic foods than other cultures in the Southeast (p. 237). A summary of Gallatin and Powell's linguistic classifications is given starting on p. 304, wherein Chitimacha is listed as its own stock. The language families of the Americas are also summarized in an appendix beginning on p. 403.