Re: Ad Yurii Gloriam (and Adios Yuri)
Yuri Kuchinsky (email@example.com)
19 Jan 1997 13:48:34 GMT
Peter van Rossum (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
: In article <email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org (Yuri Kuchinsky) writes:
: >And here, I would like to quote for you from a relatively new
publication. : >ISLANDS, PLANTS, AND POLYNESIANS: AN INTRODUCTION TO
POLYNESIAN : >ETHNOBOTANY, Paul Cox and Sandra Banack, eds, Portland,
1991. In the : >article POLYNESIAN PLANT NAMES, Karl H. Rensch writes:
: >"I do not intend to go back to the question of whether the word
_kumara_ : >[signifying sweet potato, _Ipomoea_], which has reflexes in
most : >Polynesian langauges, is of South American Indian origin. The
case for it : >has been proven beyond doubt (Yen 1974)" (p. 98) : > :
: I'm not sure on what basis Rensch is claiming that Yen
: (1974) conclusively demonstrates that the Polynesian
: name kumara for the sweet potato is of South American
: origin. Both Sauer (1993) and Heiser (1990, p. 142
: footnote) claim that this identification is in dispute.
: They claim that others believe that the wide occurance
: of kumara in Polynesia but its restricted occurance in
: South America might actually indicate that the term
: originated in Polynesia and was spread to South America
: by the post-contact Spaniards. Unfortunately neither
: Sauer nor Heiser seem to give a reference for who
: disputes this (very irritating).
I don't quite get your point here.
If the purpose of your article was to point out that Rensch may have
misinterpreted Yen in some way, you may perhaps have a point, although
seeing that that presentation was made at a symposium where Yen was
present may cast some doubt on this.
If the purpose of your article is to suggest that the Spanish brought the
word for sweet potato to America where the sweet potato is native, I
doubt it very much.
But perhaps you're suggesting that sweet potato diffused with human
assistance _both ways_ across the Pacific pre-Columbus? Who knows?
In any case it is refreshing to see a post from you where you're not
accusing me of anything... I do hope that the level of confrontationality
can be reduced in these ngs in general.
: But I read Yen early last semester and didn't remember him : claiming
that there was clear evidence that kumara was of : South American
derivation (as Rensch claims above), so I : went back to check.
: While I always find linguistic arguments hard to follow : it seemed
clear to me that Yen (1974) is not at all : comfortable concluding with
any degree of certainty : that the term kumara is of South American
: "The earliest reference to a word similar to kumara is : an entry in an
anonymous dictionary of Peruvian words : and phrases (Anonymous 1586).
As cumal it is annotated : as a word from Chinchasuyo, which in modern :
classification is regarded as a group of some six : regional dialects of
the northern highland group of : Quechua languages. Brand (1971 - in Man
Across the : Sea) has traced the subsequent dictionary entries of : cumal
or cumar, connected its derivation with coman : recorded in the Cuenca
area of the southern Ecuadorian : highlands in 1582, and found the
distribution of : related forms only to the north of Cuzco. Further :
THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THE WORD WAS USED FOR SWEET : POTATO ANYWHERE
ON THE PERUVIAN AND ECUADORIAN COASTS, : so Brand states that the name
could not have been : transferred by Polynesians after a trans-Pacific :
landfall." (p. 14)
: "...it may merit some discussion as prompted by the : case that appears
to have been made by Swadesh (1964, : p. 539) for transfer of the word -
but from Polynesia : to America. 'The word for sweet potato in Aymara and
: Maori ... are not typical of Quechua and Aymara'" (p. : 19) [but he
goes on to note that another Quechua : scholar is unsure if Swadesh's use
of present day : languages for the past is valid]
: "No dissection of the Polynesian word has been
: published...In the absence of further analysis, THE
: VARIETY OF DIRECTIONAL GAMES THAT MIGHT BE PLAYED WITH
: THE NOT-QUITE PARALLELS IN DIVERSITY OF THE GLOSSES FOR
: SWEET POTATO BETWEEN AMERICA AND OCEANIA IS FAR FROM
: EXHAUSTED. B. Biggs (pers. comm.) has shared his
: tentative thoughts on the etymology of the Polynesian
: word. From its shape, with a long vowel following the
: initial consonant in its trisyllabic form, the word is
: atypical of Polynesian. THIS MAY INDICATE A BORROWED
: WORD, BUT THAT IT MAY BE A COMPOUND WORD OF POLYNESIAN
: DERIVATION CANNOT BE DISCOUNTED...Such speculative
: construction must remain uncertain, but signifies THE
: INTRIGUING PROSPECT THAT...THE KUMARA WORD AND ITS
: COGNATES MAY NOT BE AN AMERICAN DERIVATION." (p. 19-20)
: "As indications of direction and the identity of
: transferrers, the vernacular names have been the most
: often quoted, and are indeed applied in the present
: reconstruction. Structurally, however, THE POLYNESIAN
: WORD KUMARA EXHIBITS SOME DOUBT OF PERUVIAN
: DERIVATION...for the depth of cultural support from
: historical linguistics, which traces the Malayo-
: Polynesian derivation of the majority of Pacific
: languages, confers direction and identity to the
: transfer of plants THAT ONE LEXICAL ITEM IN COMMON
: CANNOT DO." (p. 265).
: Unless I missed something in Yen (always a possibility)
: it appears to me pretty clear that Yen was quite hesitant
: to conclude that the Polynesian term kumara is originally
: of South American origin.
: I do not understand, therefore, how Rensch can claim
: that Yen's analysis was conclusive when even Yen doesn't
: seem to think it was. If Rensch has additional evidence
: to support the theory he should offer it, but simply citing
: Yen as authoritative support seems completely unjustified
: to me.
: So what do you think of that Yuri?
: Peter van Rossum
: Yen, D.E.
: 1974 "The Sweet Potato and Oceania." Bernice P.
: Bishop Museum - Bulletin No. 236.
=O= Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto =O=
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