Algic languages

Algic languages

Infobox Language family
region=northern North America

map_caption=Pre-contact distribution of Algic languages (in red). Note distribution in northwestern California.

The Algic (also Algonquian-Wiyot-Yurok or Algonquian-Ritwan) languages are an indigenous language family of North America. They are all thought to descend from Proto-Algic, a second-order proto language reconstructed using Proto-Algonquian and the attested languages Wiyot and Yurok.

The term "Algic" was used by Edward Sapir, who discovered the relationship between the two Californian languages Wiyot and Yurok and the Algonquian family. He applied the term Algic for this superordinate grouping.

Most Algic languages are part of the Algonquian subfamily, which are spoken from the Rocky Mountains to New England. The other Algic languages are the Yurok and Wiyot languages of northwestern California. The original Algic homeland is thought to have been located in the Pacific Northwest, along the shores of the Columbia River.

Family division

Algic consists of 30 languages.

I. Wiyot: 1. Wiyot (also known as Wishosk) "(†)"

II. Yurok: 2. Yurok (also known as Weitspekan)

III. Algonquian languages (also known as Algonkian): 3. Arapahoan (also known as Arapaho-Atsina): 4. Blackfoot (also known as Blackfeet): 5. Cheyenne: 6. Cree (also known as Cree-Montagnais or Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi): 7. Fox (also known as Fox-Sauk-Kickapoo or Mesquakie-Sauk-Kickapoo): 8. Menominee (also known as Menomimi): 9. Miami-Illinois "(†)": 10. Ojibwa (also known as Ojibway, Ojibwe, Chippeway, Ojibwa-Potawatomi, Ojibwa-Potawatomi-Ottawa, or Anishinaabemowin): 11. Potawatomi (also known as Ojibwa-Potawatomi): 12. Shawnee: A. Eastern Algonquian:: 13. Eastern Abnaki (also known as Abenaki or Abenaki-Penobscot) "(†)":: 14. Etchemin "(†)":: 15. "Loup A" (also known as Nipmuck ?) "(†)":: 16. "Loup B" "(†)":: 17. Mahican (also known as Mohican) "(†)":: 18. Maliseet (also known as Maliseet-Passamquoddy or Malecite-Passamquoddy):: 19. Massachusett (also known as Natick) "(†)":: 20. Mi'kmaq (also known as Micmac, Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmag, or Míkmaw):: 21. Mohegan-Pequot "(†)":: 22. Munsee (also known as Delaware or Lenape):: 23. Nanticoke (also known as Nanticoke-Convoy) "(†)":: 24. Narragansett "(†)":: 25. Pamlico (also known as Carolina Algonquian, Pamtico, or Pampticough) "(†)":: 26. Powhatan (also known as Virginia Algonquian) "(†)":: 27. Quiripi-Naugatuck-Unquachog (also known as Connecticut-Naugatuck-Unquachog) "(†)":: 28. Shinnecock "(†)":: 29. Unami (also known as Delaware or Lenape)"(†)":: 30. Western Abnaki (also known as Abnaki, St. Francis, Abenaki, or Abenaki-Penobscot)

The classification of Algic

Wiyot, Miami, Illinois, Etchemin, Loup A, Loup B, Mahican, Massachusett, Mohegan, Pequot, Nanticoke, Narragansett, Pamlico, Powhatan, Quiripi, Naugatuck, Unami, Unquachog, and Shinnecock are now extinct. The last known Wiyot speaker died in 1962. All other languages are endangered. Yurok is thought to have ten or fewer speakers.

The two Algic languages of California, Wiyot and Yurok, were at first not thought to be related to the Algonquian languages to the east; their genetic relation to Algonquian was first discovered by Edward Sapir (1913, 1915, 1923), and argued against by Algonquianist Truman S Michelson (1914, 1914, 1935). Subsequently, the relationship was consolidated by Mary Haas (1958). This controversy in the early classification of North American languages has been called the "The Ritwan Controversy". It has been arguedFact|date=February 2007 that the relationship between Wiyot and Yurok is not closer than that with the rest of the Algonquian languages, thus discrediting the idea that "Ritwan" formed a common group under Algic, and classifications now tend to include Wiyot and Yurok as two separate sub-groups.

However, Howard Berman (1982) has suggested that Wiyot and Yurok in fact share sound changes not shared by the rest of Algic, which would indicate that Wiyot and Yurok do indeed form a genetic 'Ritwan' group. There is not yet scholarly consensus on this question among specialists in the Algic languages.

Within the Algonquian subfamily there is a smaller genetic grouping of the Eastern Algonquian languages. The other (non-Eastern) Algonquian languages have sometimes been categorized into two smaller subgroups: "Central Algonquian" and "Plains Algonquian". However, these two subgroups are not based on genetic relationship but are rather areal subgroups. (See Algonquian languages.)


* [ Ethnologue entry for Algic languages]
* 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 (Ed.). (1996). "Languages". Handbook of North American Indians (W. C. Sturtevant, General Ed.) (Vol. 17). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-048774-9.
* Haas, Mary R. 1958. Algonkian-Ritwan: The end of a controversy. International Journal of American Linguistics 24:159-173.
* Haas, Mary R. 1966. Wiyot-Yurok-Algonquian and problems of comparative Algonquian. International Journal of American Linguistics. 32:101-107
* Michelson, Truman. 1914. Two alleged Algonquian languages of California. American Anthropologist n.s. 16:361-367.
*Michelson, Truman. 1915. Rejoinder. American Anthropologist n.s. 17:194-198.
*Michelson, Truman. 1935. Phonetic shifts in Algonquian languages. InternationalJournal of American Linguistics. 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.
* 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. "International Journal of American Linguistics", "50", 165-207.
* Proulx, Paul. (1985). Proto-Algic II: Verbs. "International Journal of American Linguistics", "51", 59-94.
* Proulx, Paul. (1991). Proto-Algic III: Pronouns. "Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics", "16", 129-170. (Online:
* Proulx, Paul. (1992). Proto-Algic IV: Nouns. "Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics", "17", 11-57. (Online:
* Proulx, Paul. (1994). Proto-Algic V: Doublets and their implications. "Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics", "19" (2), 115-182. (Online:
* Proulx, Paul. (2004). Proto Algic VI: Conditioned Yurok reflexes of Proto Algic vowels. "Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics", "27", 124-138. (Online:
* 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. Ameri-can Anthropologist n.s. 15:617-646.
* Sapir, Edward. 1915. Algonkin languages of California: A reply. American Anthropologist n.s. 17:188-194.
* Sapir, Edward. 1923. The Algonkin affinity of Yurok and Wiyot kinship terms. Journal de la Societe des Americanistes de Paris 15:37-74


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