Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/209

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191
TRANSITION TO SENSE-WORDS.

times of the French occupation of Canada, there was sent over a Governor-General of New France, Monsieur de Montmagny, the Iroquois rendered his name from their word ononte, 'mountain,' translating him into Onontio, or 'Great Mountain,' and thus it came to pass that the name of Onontio was handed down long after, like that of Cæsar, as the title of each succeeding governor, while for the King of France was reserved the yet higher style of 'the great Onontio.'[1]

The quest of interjectional derivations for sense-words is apt to lead the etymologist into very rash speculations. One of his best safeguards is to test forms supposed to be interjectional, by ascertaining whether anything similar has come into use in decidedly distinct languages. For instance, among the familiar sounds which fall on the traveller's ear in Spain is the muleteer's cry to his beasts, arre! arre! From this interjection, a family of Spanish words are reasonably supposed to be derived; the verb arrear, 'to drive mules,' arriero, the name for the 'muleteer' himself, and so forth.[2] Now is this arre! itself a genuine interjectional sound? It seems likely to be so, for Captain Wilson found it in use in the Pelew Islands, where the paddlers in the canoes were kept up to their work by crying to them arree! arree! Similar interjections are noticed elsewhere with a sense of mere affirmation, as in an Australian dialect where a-ree! is set down as meaning 'indeed,' and in the Quichua language where ari! means 'yes!' whence the verb ariñi, 'to affirm.' Two other cautions are desirable in such enquiries. These are, not to travel too far from the absolute meaning expressed by the interjection, unless there is strong corroborative evidence,

  1. Bruyas, 'Mohawk Lang.,' p. 16, in Smithson. Contr. vol. iii. Schoolcraft, 'Indian Tribes,' Part iii. p. 328, 502, 507. Charlevoix, 'Nouv. France,' vol. i. p. 350.
  2. The arre! may have been introduced into Europe by the Moors, as it is used in Arabic, and its use in Europe corresponds nearly with the limits of the Moorish conquest, in Spain arre! in Provence arri!