Mahican language

Mahican language
Spoken in United States
Region New York
Native speakers extinct  (date missing)
Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mjy

Mahican (also known as Mohican) is an extinct language of the Eastern Algonquian subgroup of the Algonquian language family, itself a member of the Algic language family.[1]

Aboriginally, speakers of Mahican lived along the upper Hudson River in New York State, extending as far north as Lake Champlain, east to the Green Mountains in Vermont, and west near Scoharie Creek in New York State.[2] Conflict with Mohawks and European encroachment triggered displacement of the Mahicans. After a series of dislocations some Mahicans were forced to relocate to Wisconsin in the 1820s and 1830s, while others moved to several communities in Canada where they lost their Mahican identity.

Mahican became extinct in the early twentieth century, with the last recorded documentation of Mahican made in the 1930s.[3]

Two distinct Mahican dialects have been identified, Moravian and Stockbridge. [4] These two dialects emerged after 1740 as aggregations arising from the dislocation of Mahican and other groups. The extent of Mahican dialect variation prior to this period is uncertain.

The Stockbridge dialect emerged at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and included groups of New York Mahicans, and members of other linguistic groups such as Wappinger (a local Munsee band), Housatonic, Wyachtonok, and others. After a complex migration history, the Stockbridge group moved to Wisconsin, where they combined with Munsee Delaware migrants from southwestern Ontario, and are now known as the Stockbridge-Munsee.[5]

The Moravian dialect arose from population aggregations centred at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Some Mahican groups that had been affiliated beginning in 1740 with the Moravian Church in New York and Connecticut moved in 1746 to Bethlehem. Another group affiliated with the Moravians moved to Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and subsequent to a massacre by settlers some members of these groups fled to Canada with Munsee Moravian converts, ultimately settling at what is now Moraviantown, where they have completely merged with the dominant Delaware population. Another group moved to Ohsweken at Six Nations, Ontario, where they merged with other groups at that location.[6]

Mahican linguistic materials consist of a variety of materials collected by missionaries, linguists, and others, including an eighteenth-century manuscript dictionary compiled by Johann Schmick, a Moravian missionary.[7] In the twentieth century linguists Truman Michelson and Morris Swadesh collected some Mahican materials from surviving speakers in Wisconsin.[8]

Mahican historical phonology has been studied based upon the Schmick dictionary manuscript, tracing the historical changes affecting the pronunciation of words between Proto-Algonquian and the Moravian dialect of Mahican, as reflected in Schmick’s dictionary.[9] The similarities between Mahican and the Delaware languages Munsee and Unami have been acknowledged in studies of Mahican linguistic history, and in one classification Mahican and the Delaware languages are assigned to a Delawaran subgroup of Eastern Algonquian.[10]



  1. ^ Raymond G. Gordon, Jr., ed. 2005.
  2. ^ Brasser, Ted, 1978
  3. ^ Goddard, Ives, 1978, p. 71; American Philosophical Society Archives, Mahican manuscripts and notes
  4. ^ Pentland, David, 1992, p. 15
  5. ^ Brasser, Ted, 1978, pp. 207-210
  6. ^ Brasser, Ted, 1978, p. 208
  7. ^ Masthay, Carl, 1992
  8. ^ Michelson, Truman, 1914; American Philosophical Society Archives, Mahican manuscripts and notes
  9. ^ Pentland, David, 1992
  10. ^ Pentland, David, 1992, p. 15; Goddard, Ives, 1996, p. 5

See also

Mahican People
Stockbridge-Munsee Community


  • American Philosophical Society Archives, Mahican manuscripts and notes
  • Brasser, Ted. 1978. "Mahican." Bruce Trigger, ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 15, Northeast, pp. 198–212. Washington: Smithsonian Institution.
  • Campbell, Lyle. 1997. American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Campbell, Lyle; & Mithun, Marianne, eds. 1979. The languages of native America: Historical and comparative assessment. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-74624-5.
  • Campbell, Lyle; & Mithun, Marianne. (979. "Introduction: North American Indian historical linguistics in current perspective." In L. Campbell & M. Mithun, eds., The languages of native America: Historical and comparative assessment, pp. 3–69. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Ethnologue entry for Mahican
  • Goddard, Ives. 1978. "Eastern Algonquian Languages." Bruce Trigger, ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 15, Northeast, pp. 70–77. Washington: Smithsonian Institution.
  • Goddard, Ives. 1996. "Introduction." Ives Goddard, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 17. Languages, pp. 1–16. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Goddard, Ives. 1999. Native languages and language families of North America (rev. and enlarged ed. with additions and corrections). [Map]. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press (Smithsonian Institution). (Updated version of the map in Goddard 1996). ISBN 0-8032-9271-6.
  • Gordon Jr., Raymond G., ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  • Masthay, Carl, ed. Schmick's Mahican Dictionary. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.
  • Michelson, Truman. 1914. [“Notes on the Stockbridge Language.”] Manuscript No. 2734, National Anthropological Archives. Smithsonian Institution. Washington.
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X (pbk).
  • Pentland, David. 1992. “Mahican historical phonology.” Carl Masthay, ed. Schmick's Mahican Dictionary, pp. 15–27. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mahican — Mohican redirects here. For other uses, see Mohican (disambiguation). Not to be confused with the Mohegans, a different Algonquian speaking tribe living in eastern (upper Thames valley) Connecticut. Mahican Muhhekunneuw Geographic distribution of …   Wikipedia

  • Mahican — ☆ Mahican [mə hē′kən ] n. [self designation ] 1. pl. Mahicans or Mahican a member of a North American Indian people that lived chiefly in the upper Hudson Valley 2. the Algonquian language of this people adj. of the Mahicans or their language or… …   English World dictionary

  • Mahican — or Mohican noun (plural can or cans) Etymology: Mahican Date: circa 1614 1. a member of an American Indian people of the upper Hudson River valley 2. the extinct Algonquian language of the Mahican people …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Mahican — n. tribe of North American Indians formerly located in the upper Hudson valley; member of this tribe; Algonquin language spoken by the Mahican (also Mohican) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Mahican — [ mahɪk(ə)n] (also Mohican) noun 1》 a member of an American Indian people formerly inhabiting the Upper Hudson Valley in New York State. Compare with Mohegan. 2》 the extinct Algonquian language of the Mahicans. adjective relating to the Mahicans …   English new terms dictionary

  • Mahican — Ma•hi•can [[t]məˈhi kən[/t]] n. pl. cans, (esp. collectively) can. 1) peo a member of an American Indian people who lived in the middle and upper Hudson River valley in the 17th century 2) peo the extinct Eastern Algonquian language of the… …   From formal English to slang

  • Mahican — noun 1. a member of the Algonquian people formerly living in the Hudson valley and eastward to the Housatonic • Syn: ↑Mohican • Hypernyms: ↑Algonquian, ↑Algonquin 2. the Algonquian language spoken by the Mohican • Syn: ↑Mohican …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mahican — ISO 639 3 Code : mjy ISO 639 2/B Code : ISO 639 2/T Code : ISO 639 1 Code : Scope : Individual Language Type : Extinct …   Names of Languages ISO 639-3

  • Quiripi language — Quiripi is the name of a Native American language (also known as the Proto Eastern Algonquian – Archaic (PEA A) R Dialect), spoken by the Quinnipiac the indigenous people of Connecticut, Long Island, eastern New York, and northern New Jersey. One …   Wikipedia

  • Munsee language — Munsee Spoken in Canada; United States Region now in Ontario; formerly in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania Ethnicity 400 (1991) Native speakers 7  (n …   Wikipedia

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