The legacy of the Native American peoples and their language traveled far into the European and Asian continents brought by the Portuguese and Spanish as new world fauna, flora, and language. Many of these new-world artifacts were adopted and absorbed so thoroughly that we forget the novelty they once possessed and to whom this heritage is owed.
Take, for example the word tomato. The species originated in western South America and Central America. The Nahuatl (Aztec language) word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word tomate, from which the English word tomato derived. The Spanish took the small yellow tomato to Europe where it grew easily in the Mediterranean climates. They also distributed the tomato throughout their colonies in the Caribbean and the Philippines, where it then spread throughout the Asian continent.
More vocabulary of Native American languages origin include:
Over half of the state names in the U.S. are of Native American origin. They include:
Familiar U.S. city names include:
Though considered extinct, the Algonquian language has been woven into our everyday lives; testament that language is a living legacy where every utterance is like a memory brought back to life.
I’ll finish with a quote by Ray Bradbury:
“Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw? Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies?”
If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in the fascinating history of the creole language known as Gullah, the beauty of the Scots language, or the influence of Spanish and French in the English language.
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