UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Kootenay-Salishan linguistic comparison : a preliminary study Morgan, Lawrence R.


This thesis presents evidence that the Kootenay language is genetically related to the Salishan family of languages. The evidence consists of 129 probable cognate sets which include a word or morpheme in Kootenay compared to a resemblant word or morpheme in one or more Salishan languages. These cognate sets show that a network of sound correspondences exists between Kootenay and the Salishan languages which cannot be explained as entirely the result of linguistic diffusion. A number of the sound correspondences could only have come about if there had existed a common ancestor language for Kootenay and the Salishan languages. The main body of the thesis consists of brief discussions of: the hypothesis of a genetic relationship between Kootenay and Salishan, the Kootenay-Salishan sound correspondences, Proto-Salishan phonology, the transcription of Salishan items in the thesis, Kootenay phonology, the Salishan languages and their subgroupings, and Kootenay-Salishan grammatical resemblances, followed by the presentation of the cognate sets. The cognate sets from 1 through 120 serve as the evidence for the consonant correspondences. After the presentation of these sets there is a discussion of the vowel correspondences where one cognate set already presented is recast to better show the vowel correspondences that it represents and one new cognate set is given. Eight new cognate sets are introduced in a section on additional (possible) consonant correspondences. There follows a presentation of 21 sets which are cast in the same general format as the cognate sets but appear to involve word borrowing rather than cognacy. These cases of probable borrowing are not merely the leftovers of Kootenay-Salishan comparative work but are part of the evidence for an apparently long standing diffusional connection between Kootenay and Interior Salishan languages. This diffusional connection seems to have gone beyond word borrowing into the realm of grammatical borrowings and interinfluences. Although working out the details of such interinfluences is beyond the scope of this thesis, there are points of evidence in the cognate sets as well as in the section on borrowings which suggest that Okanagan-Colville may have had the closest and perhaps longest diffusional connection with Kootenay of any of the Interior Salishan languages. Since traditional Okanagan-Colville (and Lakes) territory lies between Kootenay territory and the probable homeland of the speakers of Proto-Salishan somewhere around the Fraser River Delta, it appears likely that Proto-Kootenay-Salishan was probably spoken either around the Fraser Delta or somewhere between there and the present homeland of the Kootenay some three hundred miles to the east. The genetic relationship between Kootenay and Salishan is not close enough to warrant classifying Kootenay as a Salishan language. Kootenay is a single member language family which is coordinately related to the Salishan family in a language stock which can be called Kootenay-Salishan. Although Kootenay should no longer be considered a language isolate in the absolute sense it is still an isolate within the Kootenay-Salishan language stock.

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