Uto-Aztecan, “A website for Uto-Aztecan Studies,” is a welcome new addition to the internet, and just the sort of thing that the internet is ideal for. Brian D. Stubbs, who created the site, writes:

Welcome to Uto-Aztecan.org, a website devoted to the comparative study of the Uto-Aztecan (UA) language family. Located in the southwestern United States and western Mexico, UA consists of some 30 related Native American languages descended from a common parent language that linguists now call Proto-Uto-Aztecan (PUA). Hopi, Ute, Pima, and Aztec/Nahuatl are among the better known of UA languages. The valuable works of many linguists are listed in the bibliography and some are discussed in the introduction accessible above and will be cited here increasingly over time, but the initial offerings are portions of the book, A Uto-Aztecan Comparative Vocabulary (by brian stubbs), available on this website, intended to encourage and facilitate the comparative study of Uto-Aztecan languages.
The book presently contains some 2650 Uto-Aztecan cognate sets (groups of related words), which is only the latest plateau of progress or new foundation for future research. After three decades of studying UA and compiling the book, I realized that an undertaking as large as a language family has no end, like running a race without a finish line. Each new discovery creates rows of ripples of adjustments to so much else, and there is no end to new discoveries[…]

You can read more at the Introduction page, and of course sample the various offerings of the site. (Thanks, Yoram!)


  1. marie-lucie says

    This is just what I have been waiting for !!!!

  2. The naming of languages is rather inconsistent and also riddled with The Whig Interpretation of History. Wouldn’t “Old English” be better named as, say, Insular West Germanic?

  3. marie-lucie says

    dearieme, I am not sure what you mean by your first sentence, especially “the Whig interpretation of history”.
    “Germanic” is a family, not a language, and “Insular West Germanic” would be the name of the subfamily which includes English and Scots. “Old English”, formerly called “Anglo-Saxon”, refers to a specific, attested language, spoken at a defined period, which is a known stage in the evolution of English.
    “Uto-Aztecan” is a family which includes the Ute, Aztec, Hopi, etc languages. Proto-Uto-Aztecan (like other Proto-X’s) refers to the putative, reconstructed ancestor of the whole family.

  4. Calling something “Old English” inplies that it has a duty to become in turn Middle English, Young English, Infantile English, etc. It must witness the Renaissance, Reformation, Glorious Revolution and the Great Reform Act.
    Moreover, that name privileges the so-called Anglo-Saxons: Old Danish and Old Norman French also contributed to the essence of Infantile English. There’s no need to rate our Kraut invaders any higher than our Scandowegian or Frog invaders.
    Anyway, it’s ambiguous: “Old English” in English can also mean “Former English” which is plain silly. Bah, I don’t like it; sweep it away!

  5. dearieme, you are entitled to your opinion, but perhaps your definition of “Old English” is wider than that of historians of the English language. There are names for distinctive periods in the history of English, and for distinct dialects before eventual standardization (at least of the written form of the language). Old Danish and Old Norman French contributed to the development of the language beyond the period of “Old English”, once speakers of those languages settled on English soil and eventually mixed with English speakers. If you think “Old English” favours those of Anglo-Saxon origin, then so does plain “English”, named for the “Angles”.

  6. The Whig interpretation of history, an expression invented by Herbert Butterfield in 1963 to delineate a particular school of historical interpetation. Butterfield used the expression to describe those he accused of interpreting the past solely through the lens of the present. “Old English” can be criticised as a name, if I may be so presumptuous as to argue what I believe is dearieme’s case, because it is derived “backwards” from the name “Modern English”: “Insular West Germanic” (or perhaps “Southern Insular West Germanic”), it might be argued, is a better name because it describes where the language at that time had come from and was situated, rather than where it was going to.

  7. “Old English” in English can also mean “Former English” which is plain silly. Bah, I don’t like it; sweep it away!
    That is its name, whether you like it or not. You might as well (as m-l says) try to change the name of the English language itself.

  8. marie-lucie says

    I think I see the point, but “Insular West Germanic” would be quite appropriate for the modern group including English and Scots as well. These languages have not stopped belonging to the Western branch of the Germanic family, even with the additional contributions from Scandinavian (North Germanic branch) and French (Western Romance).
    “Anglo-Saxon” is not used so much nowadays, because it seems to imply that the language before the Norman Conquest was radically different, and that between it and later English there was a language shift, perhaps similar to that from Gaulish to French. The name “Old English” emphasizes the continuity: after all, King Alfred already spoke “englisc”. It is always possible to talk about, for instance, “9th century English” or *14th century English”, but such labels are cumbersome when a distinct period extends over more than one century.

  9. Shrewd chap, that Zythophile.

  10. Yes, and he knows his beer.

  11. You might as well … try to change the name of the English language itself.
    Mencken tried to rename it (or at least the “American language”) “Anglo-American”. As an Australian, of course, I take great umbrage at being left out of the club 🙂

  12. Whig view of history – 1931, I think, not 1963.

  13. Whig view of history – 1931, I think, not 1963.
    Picky, picky! And, of course, correct.
    Wikipedia says of Butterfield:
    “Interestingly, after The Whig Interpretation of History he continued to write history with a Whiggish style. He stated that in fact it was too hard not to portray any historiography Whiggishly.”

  14. How about a compromise? We’ll call it Olde Englysshe.

  15. marie-lucie says

    That would be naming it in Middle English.

  16. I thought you weren’t allowed to say “Interestingly” on Wikipedia. Insert your own joke here.

  17. Me, I want to change “Whiggishly” to “waggishly” in that passage.

  18. marie-lucie says

    What would be the opposite of “Whig” or “Whiggishly” in this context?

  19. Wikipedia has this wonderful quote from Macaulay:
    “I shall relate how the new settlement was, during many troubled years, successfully defended against foreign and domestic enemies; how, under that settlement, the authority of law and the security of property were found to be compatible with a liberty of discussion and of individual action never before known; how, from the auspicious union of order and freedom, sprang a prosperity of which the annals of human affairs had furnished no example; how our country, from a state of ignominious vassalage, rapidly rose to the place of umpire among European powers; how her opulence and her martial glory grew together; how, by wise and resolute good faith, was gradually established a public credit fruitful of marvels which to the statesmen of any former age would have seemed incredible; how a gigantic commerce gave birth to a maritime power, compared with which every other maritime power, ancient or modern, sinks into insignificance; how Scotland, after ages of enmity, was at length united to England, not merely by legal bonds, but by indissoluble ties of interest and affection; how, in America, the British colonies rapidly became far mightier and wealthier than the realms which Cortes and Pizarro had added to the dominions of Charles the Fifth; how in Asia, British adventurers founded an empire not less splendid and more durable than that of Alexander.
    … (T)he history of our country during the last hundred and sixty years is eminently the history of physical, of moral, and of intellectual improvement.”
    I’m so old I still believe all this 1066 and All That stuff. The opposite? Jacobitism? Bonapartism? Pessimism? Common sense? Balance?

  20. Wow, how the mighty have fallen since.
    So, does “Whig”, etc refer to a teleological vision of history? constant improvement towards an ideal end? but in the early stages of the historical study of languages, the prevalent opinion was that modern languages showed decay and degradation from the ideal represented by Latin, Greek and Sanskrit. The idea that change or evolution in language does not mean either improvement or degradation is a modern one. “Old”, “Middle”, etc refer to historical stages defined by certain complexes of linguistic features, not to necessary episodes in the pursuit of some ultimate goal.

  21. The opposite? Jacobitism? Bonapartism? Pessimism? Common sense? Balance?
    Macaulay’s opposites may be contradictory, but isn’t the contrary of Whig and Protestant simply Tory and Catholic? In this context? Who knows? I can’t see any relevant sense in which the term ‘Old English’ exhibits Whiggishness. I think dearieme has simply mistaken a claim to historical certainty for a claim to historical necessity.

  22. Fallen a bit, haven’t they, m-l? He could write, though, couldn’t he?
    I think Victorian Britons would have held Latin and Greek as examples of perfection from which we had fallen, but happily that was all before the real start of history, which was the start of British history, which was the Anglo-Saxon conquest.
    Whigs traced the success of Britain to the Glorious Rev, the Act of Settlement, and the Bill of Rights.
    Everyone, Whig or Tory, traced it back further in a succession of improvements to the savage, noble, but somehow respectable Anglo-Saxons stepping decorously from their ships at Ebbesfleet. I think they would have had difficulty with the conception that modern English was anything other than an evolutionary peak rising from Anglo-Saxon and Middle English foothills.

  23. m-l: The opposite of “Whig” in this context, at least in the U.S., is “fair and balanced.” 🙂
    He Of The Chinesian Cityworld of Aojou Nanbien: Sidney J. Baker wrote a book in homage to Mencken called The Australian Language; alas, I have not read it.

  24. John Cowan says

    I have now, and (up to 1945) it delivers what it says on the tin, even though Baker’s style is nothing at all compared to Mencken’s.

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