Influences of Native American Languages on American English.

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American English is one variety of “World English”, a term which comprehends the language spoken in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, India, the West Indies and in other countries that were once part of the British Empire.

One major factor that distinguishes one variety of World English from another is the nature of the colonization. The United States resemble Canada, Australia and New Zealand in that the large indigenous populations in these areas were quickly conquered, economically oppressed, and subject to European diseases that decimated them.

As a result, the people who speak English in these countries are largely descended from English immigrants and other immigrants who assimilated to the local variety of English. The relatively small native populations speak their own variety of English but have added little to Australian or American standards in the way of substrate.

That is not the case in the other places mentioned. Ireland, India, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa are among the major English-speaking nations of the world, but in each case the dynamic is one of a few colonists imposing their language on a large number of native people. In most cases the colonists have themselves gone away, died out, or been assimilated or marginalized as a minority, but have left the English language as a dominant cultural legacy. In each of these situations, English encounters a powerful substrate of still-spoken languages: Irish, Hindi, Bengali, Zulu, Africaans etc. These languages have dramatically inflected the vocabulary and phonology of these dialects of World English.

Native American languages have had a substrate impact on American English, of course. It is dramatic in the case of place names which tend to be from Indian languages. In fact, about half of the states got their names from Indian words. Here are some of them:

 may come from Choctaw meaning "thicket-clearers" or "vegetation-gatherers."
 corruption of Aleut word meaning "great land" or "that which the sea breaks against."
 from the Indian "Arizonac," meaning "little spring" or "young spring."
 from the Quapaw Indians.

 (Illinois): Algonquian for "garlic field."
 (bay): Algonquian name of a village.
 from an Indian word (Quinnehtukqut) meaning "beside the long tidal river."
 Algonquin for "tribe of superior men."
 meaning "land of Indians."
 probably from an Indian word meaning "this is the place" or "the Beautiful Land."
 from a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind."

 from an Iroquoian word "Ken-tah-ten" meaning "land of tomorrow."
 from Massachusett tribe of Native Americans, meaning "at or about the great hill."
 from Indian word "Michigana" meaning "great or large lake."
 from a Dakota Indian word meaning "sky-tinted water."

Mississippi ( and ): from an Indian word meaning "Father of Waters."
 (California): believed to come from the Chumash Indians.
 (New York): Algonquian, believed to mean "isolated thing in water."
 (Wisconsin): Algonquian, believed to mean "a good spot or place."
 named after the Missouri Indian tribe. "Missouri" means "town of the large canoes."
 (Rhode Island): named after the Indian tribe.
 from an Oto Indian word meaning "flat water."
 (falls): named after an Iroquoian town, "Ongiaahra."

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 from the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies."
 from an Iroquoian word meaning "great river."
 from two Choctaw Indian words meaning "red people."

 (Florida): Choctaw for "hair" and "people."
 (Virginia): Algonquian for "shell money" (Indian tribes often used shells that were made into beads called wampum, as money).
 (New York): believed to be Mohawk for "springs (of water) from the hillside."
 from the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies."
Sunapee (lake in ): Pennacook for "rocky pond."
 (lake in California/Nevada): Washo for "big water."
 of Cherokee origin; the exact meaning is unknown.
 from an Indian word meaning "friends."
 from the Ute tribe, meaning "people of the mountains."
 French corruption of an ...

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