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Letter (with Enclosure) from Peter S. DuPonceau to Thomas Jefferson (July 13, 1820)

In this letter to Thomas Jefferson, dated July 13, 1820, the French linguist Peter S. DuPonceau encloses a comparative vocabulary of the Nottoway and Iroquois languages. Jefferson had previously sent DuPonceau a Nottoway word list compiled by John Wood, a mathematics professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, who visited a Nottoway community in Southampton County on March 4, 1820. Until hearing from DuPonceau, Jefferson had believed the Nottoway language to be in the same family as the Powhatan language, which is now known to be Algonquian.

Transcription from Original

Mr Du Ponceau has the honor of enclosing to Mr Jefferson, a Short Comparative Vocabulary of the Nottoway & Iroquois idioms. Few words will be found in which the Analogy is not Striking. It may be carried farther, but he believes this will be Sufficient to Shew the affinity which exists between those languages. Mr D. regrets that his Stock of Tuscarora words is very Scanty, as these generally helped him, when the other idioms failed.

He begs Mr Jefferson will accept the assurance of his high veneration & respect

13th July 1820

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Affinities of the Nottoway language with the Iroquois Dialects

Nottoway Nottoway

The Sun Aheeta, Tuscarora Heita

The Moon Tethrake, Onondago, Garàchqua

Ice Owees, Onond. Owissa, Tuscar: Oowisse

Fire Auteur, Onond. Otshishta, Yotècka. Huron, Atsista (Sagard).

Water Auwa, Tusc., Auweak

A Mountain Yonun; Tenunte, Tusc: Yooneneeunte, Wyandot or Huron (an Iroquois Dialect) Onunteh

Darkness, Asunta, Onond: Achsonta, Tusc: Autsonneak

The Woods, Oraracoon, Tusc: Orench, a tree

A Swamp Keenu, Tusc: Keenah, a river

God, Heaven, Quakerhunte Quakeruntika: Onond: Garachin, Heaven, ne karongyage, in heaven, heav Huron, heronhiaye, au Ciel (Fath. Sagard) Kerhun, Karhon, is found in these Nottoway words.

Man, Enika, Tusc: Aneehlak

A young Man, Aquatio: Onond: Axhaa, a boy

a boy, Aqueianka Tusc: Woccanookne, a child Aqua, Axa, Wocca, may easily have been corrupted from one another

A Woman Ekening, Onond: Echro

Death, Anseehe, Seneca, Haneeh, Tusc: Aucreeah

— page 3 —

Nottoway

Hand or finger = Nunke, Oneida, Osnoongee, hands […]

The foot = Saseeke, Tusc: Auseekeh

The hair = Aowerac, Tusc: Oowdra Oowara.

The eyes = Suntunke, Oneid. Ohuntak Tusc. Ohuntnek.

The tongue = Darsunke, Huron, Dachia (Father Sagard) Wyandot, Uskunsheeaw (Prof. Barton)

The teeth = Otosag Tusc: Otoseh.

The nose = Oteusag, Onond: Onischsa, Tusc: Ocheoossak Oteusag & Ocheoossak, are evidently the Same word, pronounced Otchoossach (ch, Greek λ guttural)

Blood, Gäthum, Tusc: Kautkeh Gät, Gant, Kant, the same, termination differs

Skin, Ohonag, Tusc: Enunkeh

Nails Yetunke Onond: Eechta.

A Cow = Toskerung, Onond: Tisnkòsquoront

— page 4 —

Nottoway

A dog Chher, Onond: Tschiera (from Germ: pron. Cheera[)] Tusc: Cheeth, Seneca, Cheerah.

A Cat Tose, Onond: Taguh.

Summer = Genheke, Onond. Gagenhé Oneida: Kau-waw+kun-heak-ke The termination Kunheakke, appears the same with Genheke

Winter = Goshera, Tusc: Kooséhhea G. for K:, & for the gutteral hh.

A House, Onushag, Oneida, Kanoughsaw Mohawk, Kanoughsagough Onondago, Ganochsáye.

Neat Meat, Askaharag, Onond: Owáchra Long (adj.) Ewis, Onond: Iòs (pron: Eeos)

Little Newisha, Ond: Niwa.

Cold Watorae, Onond: Otohré