Proto-Algic language

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Proto-Algic (sometimes abbreviated PAc) is the proto-language from which the Algic languages (Wiyot language, Yurok language, and Proto-Algonquian) are descended. It is estimated to have been spoken about 7,000 years ago somewhere in the American Northwest, possibly around the Columbia Plateau.[1][2][3][4] It is an example of a second-level proto-language (a proto-language whose reconstruction depends on data from another proto-language, namely its daughter language Proto-Algonquian) which is widely agreed to have existed.[2] Its chief researcher was Paul Proulx.[5]


Proto-Algic had four basic vowels, which could be either long or short:

long: *i·, *e·, *a·, *o·
short: *i, *e, *a, *o


Proto-Algic had the following consonants:

Proto-Algic consonant phonemes
labial alveolar postalveolar postalveolar affricate/
velar labiovelar glottal
stop / plosive p t c č k ʔ
aspirated stop / plosive čʰ kʷʰ
glottalized stop / plosive čʼ kʼʷ
fricative ɬ /ɬ/ 1 s š /ʃ/ h
nasal m n
glottalized nasal
lateral, rhotic r, l
glottalized lateral, glottalized rhotic ,
semivowel w y /j/
glottalized semivowel w' /jʼ/
1 The identity of this consonant is not entirely certain; in Proto-Algonquian, is sometimes alternatively reconstructed as θ /θ/.

It is unclear if č /tʃ/ was an independent phoneme or only an allophone of c and/or t in Proto-Algic (as in Proto-Algonquian). In 1992, Paul Proulx theorized that Proto-Algic also possessed a phoneme , which became *w in Proto-Algonquian and g in Wiyot and Yurok.

All stops and affricates in the above chart have aspirated counterparts, and all consonants, except fricatives, have glottalized ones. Proto-Algonquian significantly reduced this system by eliminating all glottalized and aspirated phonemes.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Bakker, Diachrony and typology in the history of Cree, in Diachronic and typological perspectives on verbs
  2. ^ a b Paul Proulx, Proto-Algic I: Phonological Sketch, in the International Journal of American Linguistics, volume 50, number 2 (April 1984)
  3. ^ Paul Proulx, Algic Color Terms, in Anthropological Linguistics, volume 30, number 2 (Summer 1988)
  4. ^ Paul Proulx, Proto-Algic IV: Nouns, in Studies in Native American Languages VII, volume 17, number 2 (1992)
  5. ^ [1] Amherst Obituary for Paul Proulx
  6. ^ Paul Proulx, Proto-Algic I: Phonological Sketch, in the International Journal of American Linguistics, volume 50, number 2 (April 1984)
  • Baldi, Philip, Linguistic Change and Reconstruction Methodology (ISBN 311088609X, 1990)
  • Berman, Howard (1982). "Two Phonological Innovations in Ritwan". IJAL. 48 (4): 412–420. JSTOR 1264843. 
  • Berman, Howard (1990). "New Algonquian–Ritwan Cognate Sets". IJAL. 56 (3): 431–434. JSTOR 1265518. 
  • Campbell, Lyle (1997). American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509427-5. 
  • Campbell, Lyle (2004). Historical Linguistics: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-53267-9. 
  • Campbell, Lyle & Poser, William J. (2008). Language Classification: History and Method. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88005-3. 
  • Goddard, Ives (1990). "Algonquian Linguistic Change and Reconstruction". In Baldi, Philip. Linguistic Change and Reconstruction Methodology. Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 45. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 99–114. ISBN 978-0-89925-546-0. 
  • Pentland, David H. (2006). "Algonquian and Ritwan Languages". Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics. 1 (2nd ed.). Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 161–166. doi:10.1016/B0-08-044854-2/02265-3. 
  • Proulx, Paul (1977). "Connective Vowels in Proto-Algonquian". IJAL. 43 (2): 156–157. JSTOR 1264935. 
  • Proulx, Paul (1980). "The Subordinative Order of Proto-Algonquian". IJAL. 46 (4): 289–300. JSTOR 1264710. 
  • Proulx, Paul (1982). "The Origin of the Absolute Verbs of the Algonquian Independent Order". IJAL. 48 (4): 394–411. JSTOR 1264842. 
  • Proulx, Paul (1984b). "Algonquian Objective Verbs". IJAL. 50 (4): 403–423. JSTOR 1265400. 
  • Proulx, Paul (1989). "A Sketch of Blackfoot Historical Phonology". IJAL. 55 (1): 43–82. JSTOR 1265411.