World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Algic languages

northern North America
Linguistic classification: One of the world's primary language families
ISO 639-5: aql
Glottolog: algi1248[1]
Pre-contact distribution of Algic languages (in red). Note distribution in northwestern California.

The Algic (also Algonquian–Wiyot–Yurok or Algonquian–Ritwan)[2] languages are an indigenous language family of North America. Most Algic languages belong to the Algonquian family, dispersed over a broad area from the Rocky Mountains to Atlantic Canada. The other Algic languages are the Yurok and Wiyot of northwestern California, which despite their geographic proximity are not closely related. All these languages descend from Proto-Algic, a second-order proto-language reconstructed using reconstructed Proto-Algonquian and the attested languages Wiyot and Yurok.


  • History 1
  • Classification of Algic 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • Bibliography 5
    • Journals and books 5.1


The term "Algic" was first coined by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in his Algic Researches, published in 1839. Schoolcraft defined the term as "derived from the words Alleghany and Atlantic, in reference to the race of Indians anciently located in this geographical area."[3] Schoolcraft's terminology was not retained. The peoples he called "Algic" were later included among the speakers of Algonquian languages.

When Edward Sapir proposed that the well-established Algonquian family was genetically related to the Wiyot and Yurok languages of northern California, he applied the term Algic to this larger family. The original Algic homeland is thought to have been located in the American Northwest somewhere between the suspected homeland of the Algonquian branch (to the west of Lake Superior according to Goddard[4]) and the earliest known location of the Wiyot and Yurok (along the middle Columbia River according to Whistler[5]).

Classification of Algic

The genetic relation of Wiyot and Yurok to Algonquian was first proposed by Edward Sapir (1913, 1915, 1923), and argued against by Algonquianist Truman Michelson (1914, 1914, 1935). The relationship "has subsequently been demonstrated to the satisfaction of all".[6] This controversy in the early classification of North American languages was called the "Ritwan controversy" because Wiyot and Yurok were assigned to a genetic grouping called "Ritwan". Most specialists now reject the validity of the Ritwan genetic node.[7] Berman (1982) suggested that Wiyot and Yurok share sound changes not shared by the rest of Algic (which would be explainable by either areal diffusion or genetic relatedness); Proulx (2004) argued against Berman's conclusion of common sound changes.

See also


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Algic".  
  2. ^ Howard Berman, Proto-Algonquian-Ritwan Verbal Roots, in the International Journal of American Linguistics, volume 50, number 3 (July 1984)
  3. ^ Schoolcraft 1839: 12.
  4. ^ Goddard 1994: 207.
  5. ^ Moratto 1984: 540, 546, 564
  6. ^ Campbell 1997: 152, who cites among others Haas 1958
  7. ^ Campbell 1997: 152; Mithun 1999: 337


Journals and books

AA = American Anthropologist; IJAL = International Journal of American Linguistics

  • Berman, Howard. 1982. Two Phonological Innovations in Ritwan. IJAL 48: 412–20.
  • Campbell, Lyle. 1997. American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Goddard, Ives. 1994. The West-to-East cline in Algonquian dialectology. Actes du vingt-cinquième congrès des algonquinistes, ed. William Cowan. Ottawa: Carleton University.
  • Goddard, Ives (Ed.). 1996. Languages (Vol. 17). Handbook of North American Indians (W. C. Sturtevant, General Ed.) Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-048774-9.
  • Haas, Mary R. 1958. "Algonkian–Ritwan: The end of a controversy. IJAL, 24:159–173.
  • Haas, Mary R. 1966. "Wiyot–Yurok–Algonquian and problems of comparative Algonquian". IJAL. 32:101–107
  • Michelson, Truman. 1914. Two alleged Algonquian languages of California. AA, n.s. 16:361–367.
  • Michelson, Truman. 1915. Rejoinder. AA, n.s. 17:194–198.
  • Michelson, Truman. 1935. Phonetic shifts in Algonquian languages. IJAL, 8:131–171
  • Mithun, Marianne. 1999. The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
  • Moratto, Michael J. 1984. California archaeology. Academic Press.
  • Proulx, Paul. 1982. Yurok retroflection and sound symbolism in Proto-Algic. Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics, 7:119–123.
  • Proulx, Paul. 1984. Proto-Algic I: Phonological sketch. IJAL, 50:165–207.
  • Proulx, Paul. 1985. Proto-Algic II: Verbs. IJAL, 51:59–94.
  • Proulx, Paul. 1991. Proto-Algic III: Pronouns. Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics, 16:129–170.
  • Proulx, Paul. 1992. Proto-Algic IV: Nouns. Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics, 17:11–57.
  • Proulx, Paul. 1994. Proto-Algic V: Doublets and their implications. Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics, 19(2):115–182.
  • Proulx, Paul. 2004. Proto-Algic VI: Conditioned Yurok reflexes of Proto-Algic vowels. Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics, 27:124–138.
  • Sturtevant, William C. (Ed.). 1978–present. Handbook of North American Indians Vol. 1–20. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution.
  • Sapir, Edward. 1913. Wiyot and Yurok, Algonkin languages of California. AA, n.s. 15:617–646.
  • Sapir, Edward. 1915. Algonkin languages of California: A reply. AA, n.s. 17:188–194.
  • Sapir, Edward. 1923. The Algonkin affinity of Yurok and Wiyot kinship terms. Journal de la Société des Américanistes de Paris, 15:37–74
  • Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe. 1839. Algic researches, comprising inquiries respecting the mental characteristics of the North American Indians. First series. Indian tales and legends, vol. 1. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1839.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.