Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/165

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THE MODERN ENGLISH LANGUAGE

in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, drew up his classic list of the linguistic families of American Indians north of Mexico, he adopted as a suffix for each stock-name the convenient -an. One of the families thus constituted was the Siouan, embracing all the tribes cognate with those already known as Sioux or Dakota, etc. Now Sioux is in English a loan-word from Canadian-French, being really a "reduction" or abbreviation of Nadowessioux, which is found in varying spellings in the latter part of the seventeenth and during the eighteenth century in the writings of travelers, etc., of French nationality or extraction. Nadoivessioux, itself, is a corruption of Natoweisiw, literally, "he is a small rattlesnake" (of the massassauga variety), a term applied, in the sense of "enemy" to Indians of the Siouan stock by their Algonkian neighbors, such as the Crees, Ojibwa, etc. The word Siouan turns out thus to be a very curious hybrid, to the formation of which the Cree-Ojibwa, French and English languages have contributed. Natoweisiw is composed of natowé, "snake," and the compound suffix -is-iw, which serves to give the word its special meaning. In Canadian-French the termination was corrupted into -ssioux, since the word was conceived of as a plural and given the sign of the plural in French -x. By and by the word Sioux appears as the representative of the longer term Nadowessioux, and so made its way into English, where also it was regarded as a plural. The word Siouan exemplifies, in a different way from remacadamizing, but quite as interestingly and just as remarkably, the genius of the English language in the evolution of hybrids. This characteristic, like its readiness to adopt foreign terms, is aiding English more and more in its candidacy as a worldlanguage.

3. Prefix and Suffix.—There exist in the world languages that use prefixes only, others that know only suffixes; and there are also many that employ both these morphological devices. Few, like modern English, are free to use the very same particle as both prefix and suffix. And it is one of the complaints of foreigners that expressions of the type of "set up" and "up set" are often very far from being identical in meaning—indeed, may have no kinship in signification whatever. But this fact is a character of strength rather than of weakness, in a language such as ours. We can say: aftermath and day-after; aforetime and pinafore; overalls and allover; overdo and do over; overlook and look over; overpay and pay over; overtake and take over; overwork and work over; inset and set in; intake and take in; instep and step in; onset and set on; outlay and layout; outlook and lookout; outworks and work out; by-gone and passer-by; undergo and go under; understand and stand under; uphold and hold up; upstart and start up, etc. A study of the meanings of the words just cited will demonstrate that English has still a fertile field in this direction. It has been pointed out by the