Page:The American Language.djvu/58

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than now appears, for with the disappearance of the red man the use of loan-words from his dialects has decreased. In our own time such words as papoose, sachem, tepee, wigwam and wampum have begun to drop out of everyday use; [1] at an earlier period the language sloughed off ocelot, manitee, calumet, supawn, samp and quahaug, or began to degrade them to the estate of provincialisms. [2] A curious phenomenon is presented by the case of maize, which came into the colonial speech from some West Indian dialect, went over into orthodox English, and from English into French, German and other continental languages, and was then abandoned by the colonists. We shall see other examples of that process later on.

Whether or not Yankee comes from an Indian dialect is still disputed. An early authority, John G. E. Heckwelder, argued that it was derived from an Indian mispronunciation of the word English. [3] Certain later etymologists hold that it originated more probably in an Indian mishandling of the French word Anglais. Yet others derive it from the Scotch yankie, meaning a gigantic falsehood. A fourth party derive it from the Dutch, and cite an alleged Dutch model for "Yankee Doodle," beginning "Yanker didee doodle down."[4] Of these theories that of Heckwelder is the most plausible. But here, as in other directions, the investigation of American etymology remains sadly incomplete. An elaborate dictionary of words derived from the Indian languages, compiled by the late W. R. Gerard, is in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution, but on account of a shortage of funds it remains in manuscript.

  1. A number of such Indian words are preserved in the nomenclature of Tammany Hall and in that of the Improved Order of Red Men, an organization with more than 500,000 members. The Red Men, borrowing from the Indians, thus name the months, in order: Cold Moon, Snow, Worm, Plant, Flower, Hot, Buck, Sturgeon, Corn, Travelers', Beaver and Hunting. They call their officers incohonee, sachem, wampum–keeper, etc. But such terms, of course, are not in general use.
  2. A long list of such obsolete Americanisms is given by Clapin in his dictionary.
  3. An Account of the History, Manners and Customs of the Indian Nations….; Phila., 1818.
  4. Cf. Hans Brinker, by Mary Maples Dodge; New York, 1891.