Indians speaking like Tarzan

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,426
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#34
As someone of indigenous American descent, maybe I can offer something useful here. This is only from my ancestors nation, so I can't speak for how other groups handled words for foreign things. In Nimiipuutimpt we have a word for horse, it's "sikem". Horses didn't arrive to our ancestors until the early 18th century, but it was still before Euro-Americans, so at some point our ancestors were able to come up with a decent word. Also, an old word for a gun is "timuni", which is taken from the word for a bow (the kind you shoot with). Bullets were called "cep", the same word used for arrows. The word for white people (still used today) is "soyapo". I don't know if it's related, but in Chinook trade jargon "seapo" means hat (from French "chapeau"). So, maybe our ancestors took the word "soyapo" from the fact that Euro-Americans wore "seapos".

I hope that's of some use to how Native-Americans spoke back in the day.
Thank you, this is very interesting!



@deaf tuner As a side note it is a cold/box in most slavic languages.
I don't know what it is called in Bulgarian, but Slovene "hladilnik", Russian "holodilnik" and Serbo-Croatian "hladnjak" translate more literally as "cooler". Interestingly, Serbs (I think) use the word "frižider", which comes from the name of the company Frigidaire. I guess that's the origin of the word "fridge" as well. Ice or cold box nicely shows how the first fridges worked. You'd put a block of ice inside a box/cupboard-type of thing and that would do the cooling. So you had to have regular ice deliveries in order for it to work.

and BTW, the funnies thing is "speaking like Tarzan".

Tarzan would have been unable to speak any language: as he was without any contact with human language, he didn't had had the fiziological transformations of his throat for being able to reproduce the sounds necessary for articulating any language. ;)
Not just that, he'd probably have a hard time standing upright and walking bipedally too, although apes sometimes walk that way. When you look at wild children raised by dogs or other animals, they can't stand up straight because their leg muscles and other stuff didn't adapt to it. Those animals, although somehow providing for them, couldn't teach them how to walk like humans.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#35
Well, didn't some Native leaders actually write memoirs? I think Blackhawk did, and from what I've read of them he was perfectly capable of writing articulate and understandable English. It would seem that it's just a crude Hollywood caricature to make them look primitive and uneducated.


Here's a link to his memoirs, so you can read them for yourself!
Black Hawk (Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak)
The way someone writes is not necessarily the way they speak, and in publishing memoirs the would have the time to carefully craft what they would say that they would not have in a speaking situation. Plus, for any printed work, I am sure he would have gotten help with his grammar and spelling. Publishers often edit a work for grammar and spelling.

Simplification of grammar is what you might expect with a non native speaker, as well as a simpler vocabulary. Would you really expect a Native America speaker with limited English to use words like Caucasian instead of "White man", and the Dogs and President rather than just "Great Chief"? I think it unlikely.
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,426
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#37
Apr 2017
124
Cologne
#38
Not just that, he'd probably have a hard time standing upright and walking bipedally too, although apes sometimes walk that way. When you look at wild children raised by dogs or other animals, they can't stand up straight because their leg muscles and other stuff didn't adapt to it. Those animals, although somehow providing for them, couldn't teach them how to walk like humans.
This is a total myth – do not fall for that bogus. You can not be raised by wild animals. Specifically not dogs or wolfs.

You can see this on a very simple fact. All these people who are accused or claim that happened – they should have inside knowledge far beyond our scientific knowledge about that species. They do not.
Specifically what dogs eat – kills you and dogs do not know what humans eat.


Concerning the topic – I do not think that Cooper is responsible for that.
There are different accounts far beyond the middle of the 19th century that talk about communication problems with natives.
It is more likely that because the final frontier lasted so long – some stereotypes remained over a century.

Today they all speak American English. During that time they had French translators at specific places.
And in the movies they do not want to show – the native from Maine. You want to show the guy from the final frontier.

It is the same with Russians or Germans. The closest German I have ever seen in an American movie was in Django Unchained. For the rest of the time I may only see my grandfather marching with a Nazi banner over a Greek isle in a carnival parade to open the arch.^^

Concerning the idea to create words like – fire-stick. We talk like that, too. Thank you very much.
That is why we got so long words. Because we can toss any two substantives together and they make logical sense. You do not have to come from North-America to come up with this concept.^^
You just showed it: Indianerdeutsch. Here you go. You made exact the same thing, what they did.
 
Jan 2016
1,071
Collapsed wave
#39
Ah now we know the origin of the term "fire arms" comes from. Although I still struggle to picture how the "bear arms" would work. Bears are usually quite difficult to shoot with.
 
Likes: Ryanx
Jul 2014
1,493
world
#40
I'm sure you all know how Native Americans speak in movies - using the 3rd person and infinitive verb forms all the time, describing white man's contraptions too complicated for them to understand with frases like "fire stick" for guns or "fire water" for whiskey and so on. Basically, they all seem to speak like Winnetou. Running deer live on land for many moons before white man come and stuff like that. For some reason this reminds me of Tarzan ...
I dont see anything wrong with phrases like "fire stick" or "fire water". In my native language the gun is called "fire arrow" and bycycles are called"iron horse". The aeroplane is called "skyship" and so on. It just sounds strange to english ears because they have not heard terms like it before. I am sure Chinese and Japanese are as confused with english terms.
 

Similar History Discussions