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Vol. 63, nos. 1-2 (Spring and Summer 2021)

Special Issue:

Personal Names in Native Languages of North America



Introduction Douglas R. Parks† 1

Arikara and Pawnee Personal Names Douglas R. Parks† 5

Lakota Personal Names Raymond J. DeMallie† 69

Traditional Names and Naming Customs of the White Clay (Gros Ventre) People Allan Taylor† 80

Plains Cree Personal Names Arok Wolvengrey 80

Personal Names in Meskwaki Lucy Thomason 152

Personal Names in Oneida Clifford Abbott 168

Muskogee (Creek) Naming Practices Jack B Martin 178

Kaska Personal Names: Continuity and Change Patrick Moore, Daria Boltokova, and Victoria Sear 197

The Grammar of Traditional Personal Names in Klallam Timoty Montler 211

The Form and Function of Nativized Namesin Hul’q’umi’num’ Donna B Gerdts and Ruby M. Peter† 226


Arikara and Pawnee Personal Names

Douglas R. Parks†
Indiana University

Abstract. This article describes the personal names and naming practices of the Pawnee and Arikara, Northern Caddoan tribes formerly in east-central Nebraska through eastern South Dakota. Personal names among Native American groups have received only passing attention from anthropologists and linguists. However, Caddoan names constitute an intriguing class in both their morphological composition and in the association of particular grammatical structures with age, status, and gender. The study draws on censuses, historical documents, and fifty years of linguistic documentation among the two tribes, which together provide a database of over seven hundred names for each the Pawnee and the Arikara.

Lakota Personal Names

Raymond J. DeMallie†
Indiana University

Abstract. The meanings of Lakota personal names have been the subject of a great deal of speculation, usually based on anecdotal evidence, folk etymologies, and intuition. No systematic study has been undertaken of the linguistic structure of Lakota names and the cultural principles on the basis of which names are created. This article, based primarily on census records for the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, supplemented by consulting with contemporary speakers of Lakota at Pine Ridge, reveals a limited range of grammatical and semantic possibilities for personal names and provides insight into language use and cultural meaning.

Traditional Names and Naming Customs of the White Clay (Gros Ventre) People

Allan Taylor†
University of Colorado, Boulder

Abstract. This article lists personal names in White Clay (or Gros Ventre; Algonquian, northern Plains) from various sources, and discusses the structure and semantics of names in the corpus recorded by myself. Grammatically, names consist of single nouns (with or without modifiers), compound nouns, and nominal phrases; particles; inflected verbal forms; uninflected verbal themes, sometimes truncated; or truncated noun stems. Semantically, names reference social activities such as war, hunting (especially of bison), and religion (ceremonies and sacred objects); nature, especially animals (but rarely the horse); traditional material culture; ethnic affiliation; physical features and other personal attributes; subsistence activities; and singing.

Plains Cree Personal Names

Arok Wolvengrey
First Nations University of Canada

Abstract. This article surveys the formation of traditional Plains Cree personal names. Overall, a wide array of patterns is possible across the major word classes, though particles are less common in names. Nouns representing a wide range of semantic categories (though predominantly animate) are common elements, alone or in more complex constructions; certain terms for people frequently appear finally in compounds. Verb forms are likewise common, alone or with other elements. In short, Cree names encompass more than merely a microcosm of Cree grammar; notably, the complementizer kā- appears as a marker of names beyond its normal grammatical role.

Personal Names in Meskwaki

Lucy Thomason
Smithsonian Institution

Abstract. Traditionally, Meskwaki personal names are assigned from an ancient stock of names. At any given point in history, names are assigned uniquely, by clan. It is of critical importance to match the right name with the right individual. Semantically speaking, Meskwaki names typically refer to an aspect of a story about the clan animal(s). Morphologically speaking, Meskwaki names are most often participles or deverbal nouns. They are rarely or never simple nouns, but are sometimes compound nouns. They are sometimes nominalized phrases. Certain kinds of Meskwaki names exhibit morphology found nowhere else in the language..

Personal Names in Oneida

Clifford Abbott
University of Wisconsin–Green Bay

Abstract. As is typical for the Iroquoian family, Oneida names are either analyzable as generated from the templates of the (mostly verb and sometimes noun) morphology or unanalyzable. With one type of exception, analyzable names are not distinguished in form from common nouns and verbs. The semantic range of names is broad and categories of names do not generally have social significance. Contemporary name-giving practices tend to use analyzable names with the expectation of some fit between the name and the individual. Nicknames and titles follow different practices.

Muskogee (Creek) Naming Practices

Jack B. Martin
William & Mary

Abstract. The Muskogee system of personal names has been maintained and documented for over three hundred years. Children in this system are given names that refer to heroic actions performed by a relative. When a boy reaches puberty, he is given a new name (a name-title) that typically connects him to his mother’s family and that indicates his willingness to serve the community. Upon marriage, a man may be given a new name to show his adoption into his wife’s community. This article carefully considers the form, etymology, and uses of Muskogee names, how they have changed over time, and how they reinforce Muskogee values and social structure at key life events.

Kaska Personal Names: Continuity and Change

Patrick Moore
University of British Columbia

Daria Boltokova
Memorial University

Victoria Sear
University of British Columbia

Abstract. Kaska personal names are important symbols of identity that draw on diverse cultural practices and beliefs, including an extensive history of interaction with Tlingits. Kaska personal names in the Hudson’s Bay Company records reveal continuity between historical and contemporary naming practices and provide evidence that Kaskas were living in their present territories in the early 1840s. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, traders, miners, and missionaries imposed their own naming systems, but Kaskas have continued to maintain a separate Indigenous naming system.

The Grammar of Traditional Personal Names in Klallam

Timothy Montler
Peninsula College

Abstract. Coast Salishan traditional names typically have no English translation. There are a limited number, and each is considered private property passed down through a system involving the interaction of families and generations. Focusing on names in one Coast Salishan language, Klallam, we find that names have phonological features (limited inventory of phonemes and limited syllable structure), morphological features (lack of any inflection or derivation), and syntactic features (special determiner use) that make them a distinct category.

The Form and Function of Nativized Names in Hul’q’umi’num’

Donna B. Gerdts
Simon Fraser University

Ruby M. Peter†
Quamichan First Nation

Abstract. A prevalent practice among the speakers of Hul’q’umi’num’ in the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries was to create a nickname for a person by nativizing his or her English name. Nativized names show the same sort of accommodation to Hul’q’umi’num’ phonology and morphology as seen in other loanwords. Sociolinguistically, the use of nicknames contributed to group cohesion by giving an affectionate way to refer to friends and relatives that was different from the legal name used by outsiders.

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