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Colorado Research in Linguistics

Document Type

Working Paper

Abstract

Examples of truly naturalized loan words from European languages are rare in the languages of eastern North America. Possibly the most successful loanword of this kind in this region is a European term for the domestic pig.

Why a term for Sus scrofa should be so widely loaned is probably due to two reasons. First, the animal readily naturalized in the temperate eastern woodlands, and it was both hunted and bred by the Indians. Second, salt pork was a staple food item widely used by European colonists and traders, even in areas where pigs could not live.

It appears that the prototype word was borrowed from a European language only once or twice, probably somewhere on the Atlantic just south of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, or else on the coast south of New England or in the Hudson valley. The word then passed from language to language by relay diffusion.

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