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By AA Khalafallah

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Charles Darwin, 1838 (pencil notes, quoted in Bowlby 1990:225) I N 1925 E D W A R D S A P I R T H O U G H T that "the real problems of American Indian linguistics have hardly been stated, let alone studied" (1925a:527). Vastly more information is available now, especially descriptive material on many of the languages, and much excellent historical linguistic work involving various Native American language groups has been completed, though many controversies still attend the historical study of these languages.

2. Ives Goddard points out (personal communication) that Hale (1846) presented a rather persuasive account of a post-contact origin for Chinook Jargon. When Hale was in the Northwest Coast area in 1842, he found that the process of developing the pidgin had taken place within living memory; his later view seems to have been influenced by Gibbs. Silverstein, in effect, holds that Chinook Jargon is a jargon, a vocabulary with no identifiable grammar of its own; rather it is mapped onto the grammatical structure of the first language of the particular speaker.

However, in the Americas dependable information on numbers of speakers is not always available; in particular, the estimates for some South American languages are quite rough, and often are not consistent from one source to the next. 14 Summary In this chapter I have attempted to eliminate some misconceptions and to clarify some matters of nomenclature. I have touched on topics that are not to taken up in detail elsewhere in the book but are nevertheless important. Subsequent chapters present an overview and an assessment of Native American historical linguistics.

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