Clues to Lower Mississippi Valley Histories

Clues to Lower Mississippi Valley Histories

Language, Archaeology, and Ethnography

David V. Kaufman

240 pages
3 photos, 14 illustrations, 2 maps, 9 illustrations,16 tables, appendix, index


August 2019


$75.00 Pre-order

About the Book

In Clues to Lower Mississippi Valley Histories David V. Kaufman offers a stunning relational analysis of social, cultural, and linguistic change in the Lower Mississippi Valley from 500 to 1700. He charts how linguistic evidence aids the understanding of earlier cultural and social patterns, traces the diaspora of indigenous peoples, and uncovers instances of human migration. Historical linguistics establishes evidence of contact between indigenous peoples in the linguistic record where other disciplinary approaches have obscured these connections.

The Mississippi Valley is the heartland of early North American civilizations. The region is a rich and diversified center of transportation for every part of eastern North America and to Mesoamerica. The Lower Mississippi Valley region emerged as the home of the earliest mound-building societies in the Americas and was home to some of the most impressive kingdoms encountered by Spanish and French explorers. The languages of the region provide the key to the realities experienced by these indigenous peoples, their histories, and their relationships. Clues to Lower Mississippi Valley Histories focuses on relationships that constitute what linguists call a Sprachbund (language union), or language area. Kaufman illuminates and articulates these linguistic relationships through a skillful examination of archaeological and ethnohistorical data.

Clues to Lower Mississippi Valley Histories examines the relationship between linguistics and archaeology to elucidate the early history of the Lower Mississippi Valley.

Author Bio

David V. Kaufman is an independent researcher and scholar focusing on indigenous language documentation, revitalization, and language contact. 


Clues to Lower Mississippi Valley Histories assembles a wide range of information about the peoples, cultures, migrations, archeological traditions, and languages of the area called the Lower Mississippi Valley. Scholars will welcome the compilation and analysis of so many interrelated aspects of this area.”—Marcia Haag, professor of linguistics at the University of Oklahoma

Clues to Lower Mississippi Valley Histories offers a composite portrait of the past based on evidence from linguistics, ethnography, and history, while shedding light on the movement of ideas across linguistic and cultural boundaries. As such, it provides a compelling reconsideration of life in the Mississippi Valley, an area that has attracted broad public interest for generations.”—Sean O’Neill, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Oklah

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
PART 1: Geography, Archaeology, Peoples, and Languages
Chapter 1: Geography and environment
The Gulf of Mexico
Mobile Bay
Flora and fauna
Chapter 2: Archaeology and history
Archaeological periods
Major Mississippian period settlements
Chapter 3: Peoples, migrations, and languages
The periphery
Biloxis .
Choctaws and Chickasaws
Ofos (Mosopeleas)
Other peoples and languages
Mobilian Trade Language
Sign Language
PART 2: Language Contact
Chapter 4: Language contact
Method of data collection
Method of Analysis
Weighting features
Words and calques
Method of data organization
Method of analysis
Chapter 5: Phonetic and phonological features
Inventory of LMV phonemes
Consonant phonemes
Most relevant phonetic and phonological features of the LMV sprachbund
Chapter 6: Morphological features
Language universals
Most relevant morphological features of the LMV sprachbund.
Positional verb auxiliaries
Verbal number suppletion
Least relevant morphological features of the LMV sprachbund
Chapter 7: Word borrowings and calques
Word borrowing
Basic vocabulary
Semantic classes of borrowings
Widespread borrowings in the LMV
Thomason borrowing scale
LMV lexicon and agriculture
Maize in the LMV
LMV lexicon and weaponry
Language, migration, and oral history
Possible LMV-Mesoamerica connections
Summary and synthesis
A caveat
Further study

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