Nanticoke Language [archive]
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I believe the contents (and the attached letter) came originally from Vans Murray's 1792 manuscript, which belongs to the public domain.
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The Nanticoke Language
Letter from Mr. Murray to Mr. Jefferson:
The enclosed little attempt to make a vocabulary of the language of the Nanticokes, may remind you of a circumstance, and promise of mine, which probably have
escaped your memory. You gave me the printed list of words last spring. On the reverse of the printed side which is filled up, is added a number of words which
occurred to me. The tribe has dwindled almost into extinction. It is still, however, possessed of five thousand acres of land which were reserved to them by the
Assembly of Maryland in the first settlement of the Province. The little town where they live consists but of four genuine old wigwams, thatched over with the
bark of the Cedar--very old--and two framed houses--in one of which lives the queen, Mrs. Mulberry, relict of the Colonel who was the last Chief. They are not more
than nine in number. The others of the tribe, which in this century was at least Five hundred in number, having died or removed towards the Frontiers, generally to
the Six nations--perhaps by a comparison of the languages of them and of those a correspondence may be discovered. They went to the Senecas often--you will find
that they have no word for the personals he or she. They were much at a loss for all terms to express abstract ideas. It is a little surprising they had
a word for Truth. They speak their language exclusively among themselves. A few years must totally extinguish the remains of this Tribe and it will be owing
to you, Sir, if a trace is left of their language.
I have preferred the very list which I filled in a Wigwam to any neater copy--and therefore have chosen that to transmit to you.
AUTUMN wee-saw-panu (little or Short)
BANKS (River Banks) lemoack-coi-um
BEECH (Red Beech Tree) Pah!scanemintz
BEND (to bend) ne wawk-kaw-quin-nimon
BONE HOUSE (house to put bones of the dead in) man-to-kump
BOW kullah! ow
BRAVE (not cowardly) matt-whee-saw-so
BREAK (to break) ne poick-shitt-own
BROTHER (my brother) ne-ee-mat
BUZZARD,TURKEY moh waas
CAT,WILD laa! Waa! quepuss
CHESTNUT TREE eh! qua-mintz
DANCE (TO) zdocumb
DAUGHTER hun tawn
DAY BREAK (dawn) wawpaney
DEAD (place for the dead) mutz--uck-zumpq
DEER attque also called youcat (four legs)
DRINK (to) minnih
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