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#1 Dec-24-2009 02:06:am

sschkaak
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Handbook of the Delaware Indian Language - a review

HANDBOOK OF THE DELAWARE INDIAN LANGUAGE: THE ORAL TRADITION OF A NATIVE PEOPLE is a new work, by Scott Hayes Wenning.

There are some serious problems with this book.

First of all, the so-called WALAM OLUM is a proven hoax, which is full of artificial "Delaware" words made-up by C.S. Rafinesque. Therefore, the references to it (pages 5,6,7 and 27), and the reproduction of its text and translation (pages 41-52) honestly have no place in a book on the REAL Delaware language.

Second, Daniel G. Brinton's translation of Johannes Roth's Delaware version of Matthew 22:1-14 is terribly inadequate. There are numerous errors in the translation, and even the Delaware text is often transcribed wrong. For example: In verse 1, he renders "nuwuntschi" as "he-began." It actually means "therefore." The word, "neli" ["nelih" in Roth], was crossed out by Roth, so it shouldn't even be part of the text. In verse 2, the word, "na," does not mean "him," but "that-one;" and, "Witachpungewiwulatpoagan" is not "marriage," but "marriage feast." In verse 3, "wentschitsch" means "so-that-will," not "the-bidden," as Brinton writes. And, "schingipawak" means "they-are-unwilling-to-come," not "they-are-unwilling." In verse 4, "Mauwilo" means "Go-and-tell-them," not "those;" and "penna," for which Brinton offers no translation, means "Behold!" In the same verse, "nihillalachkik" means "those-whom-I-own," not "they-are-killed;" and "Wisuhengpannik" is "they-who-were-fattened," not "they-fattened-them." Brinton also leaves out three words, in this verse, which are found in Roth's work. Mistakes like this occur in every verse.

Third, on page 18, information on the pronunciation of w, aa, ae, au, ee, eu, i, oa and oo is either incorrect or incomplete. W, before a consonant, is pronounced something like a whispered, whistled w. The aa, ee and oo are pronounced exactly like the long a, e and o. They are not slightly longer. The i can also be pronounced the same as ie, sometimes. Au and eu are pronounced like a + whispered w, and e + whispered w, when they occur at the end of a word. Finally, oa is more like the aw in "awful" than the oa in "soap." (Since the combination, ae, only appears in the words from Roth, it is irrelevant. However, it was to be pronounced like a long e.)

Fourth, on page 20, the meanings for "-elendam," "-hilleu," "-it," "-wagan" and "-wi"/"-we" are wrong. "-elendam" is a verb suffix which expresses "a disposition, situation or operation of the mind" (Zeisberger). "-hilleu" is used to indicate "motion." "-it" means "he (or she) who ...," in participles. "-wagan" changes verbs into nouns. "-wi" is used to form negative verbs. I have no idea what "-we" signifies. It depends on what letter precedes it. I can't think of a single case where it means "s/he, it is ...," however.

Fifth, also on page 20, it should be noted that "(w)ak" pluralizes ANIMATE nouns, while "(w)all" pluralizes INANIMATE nouns. The "-all" at the end of "amemensall" is NOT a plural. It is an obviative suffix used to mark grammatically subsidiary third persons. It doesn't distinguish between singular and plural. Thus, "amemensall" can mean either "child" or "children," depending on the context in which the word is used. The plural form of "amemens" is "amemensak."

Sixth, on page 21, there are no such forms as "kquis" and "wquis" in Delaware. "Your son" is "quis," where the k merges with the q. "His son" is "quisall," where the w moves to the right and merges with the u, and the word is further marked for obviative with the "-all" suffix.

Seventh, on this same page, the plural verb forms are correct, but they mix suffixes for indicative and subordinative modes. The n---neen should be changed to the indicative n---hena, in order to match the mode of the other affixes shown.

Eighth, on page 22, the prefixes on the forms for "he loves us" and "he loves you (pl.)" should be n- and k-, respectively--not w-.

Ninth, on page 23, so far as the "irregularity" of the last vowel of the verb stem is concerned, the forms which contain "-ge-" are Theme 2 Transitive Animate verbs in the passive voice. These are also known as "inverse" forms, because the action of the verb flows from right to left (i.e., object < verbal action < subject).

Tenth, on page 55, ch and k cannot really be substituted for each other.

Finally, there are some finer points of grammar which I won't get into, here. What I have mentioned should suffice to show that the grammar section of this book is horribly flawed.

Raymond Whritenour
LENAPE TEXTS & STUDIES

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#2 Dec-24-2009 02:08:am

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4299
Website

Re: Handbook of the Delaware Indian Language - a review

Thanks, again, to Tree Hugger, for retrieving this one from AITF.

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#3 Dec-24-2009 02:43:pm

Chevy
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Registered: Aug-01-2007
Posts: 1577

Re: Handbook of the Delaware Indian Language - a review

Thank you all, and thank you for the reviews. cool

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