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    My interest is peoples in North America who had long boat-oriented ways of life began when I saw the use of the "INI" word stem in the Inuit language ( Inuit means 'the people' in their language), and in Algonquian languages. In the Algonqiuian language the INI or INNI stem refers to 'person' as well. For example the word is used in the name of Algonquians in Labrador and Quebed (there is the Labrador "Innu" on the Churchill RIver, and the Quebec "Innu" on the Saguenay River. Others have derived words for their own name ("Iniwesi", "Anishnabe", etc..) while still having the inini word for 'person, man'.
    Being of Estonian descent, it resonated with the Estonian word for 'person' which is "inimene".  Also there is the origins of the word "Finnic" appearing historically as FINNI or FENNI.  Since the "F" sound does not exist in Finnic, the initial F-sound may be a speech characteristic caused by a strong empasis on the first syllable, that to varying degrees produced an unintended voiceless launch consonant - such as a voiceless fricative like F, V, H - which arises when the initial syllable begins with a vowel. Needing to be emphasized, the vowel is produce explosively which causes the voiceless consonant to seem to appear. Thus foreigners hearing Finnic words starting with a vowel, would imagine they heard an "F" (="PH"). "V", "H", "WH".  For example, Romans originally used the sound "W" for the character "V". so their name for "Veneti" peoples actually sounded like "WHENETI". Greeks meanwhile, used "Eneti" but it would have sounded like "HENETI"  If we reverse the addition of the voiceless consonants imagined by foreigners for Finnic words begining with a vowel, we arrive at Finnic originating from "INNI". or if the vowel was more rounded, the "Hanti" peoples name originated from "ANTI". Historically there were in the Scandinavian Peninsula a people described as "Cwens" in English, or "Quans" in Swedish.  These people are identified with the Finnish dialect "Kainu" which would have originally been "AINU". This word now also brings to mind the "Ainu" boat-oriented culture that was original to Japan. But in historic times, Finnic languages have been influenced mainly by Germanic languages, and for instance an Estonian will not say "HINIMENE" when intending "INIMENE".
    A good example of how the need to emphasize an initial vowel produced a consonantal sound can be found in "Hiigla" meaning 'giant'. It is common to find in Estonian words needing not just the length of double vowels but the initial emphasis, will add the H to make the sound more explosive.
    My conclusion is that a voiceless consonant in front of a Finnic word with a strong initial vowel, is either conjured by foreign listeners or has developed into the Finnic language from its being too strong to ignore in written Finnic.
    The presence of the INI stem in North American boat peoples tends to suggest that all these boat peoples originally had the same language, and that as long as they followed their unique boat-oriented way of life, a continuous thread of linguistic descent was preserve, even if there was much change from external influences and invention.
    If this is true, then we should be able to find more words that have survived over thousands of years without changing too much.
    In my investigation of a Lake Superior dialect of the Ojibwa (Anishnabe today) language, I discovered some words that are identifiable in all the boat peoples I looked at, words with no similarity at all, and a large spectrum in between.  I will below highlight some of the remarkably similar words. I will avoid dealing with the in-between words, which may or may not be valid.
    The reality is that words in all languages degenerate or are even abandoned  if not often used.  The remarkably similar words MUST be common words that had to be used frequently for thousands of generations, or else they would not have survived so long. In our study, after all, we are dealing with the survival of words for up to 6,000 years. If we are comparing the language with another language, these would have to be long lasting common words in BOTH languages. As a result, linguists acknowledge the words with most longevity would be words pertaining to family relations.
    In our investigation of the Inuit language, the words with remarkable similarity to Estonian and Finnish were indeed words that would have been in constant use generation after generation, and change only slightly.

Algonquian and arctic boat peoples
This map shows both the wide distribution of the Algonquian boat peoples (in blue) and arctic seagoing boat peoples in purple, that appear to have loaned many words into Algonquian, or perhaps were first to inhabit the post-glacial interior at a very early time. (This implies that the Algonquian boat culture may not have developed, at least not entirely, in North America, but practices and ideas came from the arctic seagoing cultures.

    My purpose here is to present evidence that reveals a common origin in northern boat-oriented original peoples. See also my other short reviews of aboriginal peoples in North American Pacific coast. These may serve as proof that the aboriginal peoples of North America did not entirely come by foot over the Bering land bridge. Ever since the invention of seagoing boats, there has probably been hundreds of crossings to North America from Eurasia (and why not the other way too? and North America before European colonization was already a mixing of cultures according to the strength of the immigration, compared to the strength of peoples already established.


    Note: the Northwest Lake Superior dialect is used as it would be least influenced in recent times.
    In chapter 4, I proposed that the Algonquian indigenous peoples of the northeast quadrant of North America had origins in the arctic peoples, such as the "Dorset" and/or earlier culture, who arrived in the arctic waters in skin boats since around 6,000 years ago or more, and continued an established life of hunting whales, seals and walrus. They would have spoken a prehistoric language that was carried with the expansions of the oceanic boat peoples, ultimately from origins in northern Europe.
   The first seagoing boat peoples to arrive in the vicinity of Newfoundland would have found the rich seas uninhabited. However, there would have been pedestrian hunting peoples in the interior. When some of the arctic skin boat peoples ventured further south either from Hudson Bay, or south along the Labrador coast, they would have also encountered indigenous woodland hunters - pedestrian and avoiding post-glacial flooded lands. In any case, the resulting languages were those called "Algonquian" by linguists today. The immigrants would have been free to inhabit still-uninhabited flooded post-glacial lands, and would have intermarried with the indigenous peoples.
  The Algonquians of Quebec and Labrador called themselves "Innu". There were the Labrador Innu associated with the Churchill River, Montagnais Innu associated with the Saguenay River. But as we moved west, the names changed a little. The Algonquins of the Ottawa River valley today call themselves "Iniwesi" which means 'we people here alone'. The Ojibwa peoples use variations of the word "Anishnabe" whose meaning is something more complex than 'the people'. However all the Algonquins have their word for 'man, person' in a form similar to inini. Just as I was originally drawn to the Inuit language because the word is plural for 'person' (singular is inuk) so too I was drawn to the name Innu in Labrador and north coast of the Saint Lawrence, and to the word for 'person' inini.  I found it a mysterious coincidence that Estonian possesses the word inimene for 'person' plural inimesed. 
    The results of my investigation of similarities between Algonquian language and Finnic language are not earth-shattering - otherwise scholars would have noticed it earlier. (Maybe not, since there are very few if any scholars who know a Finnic language, who have even considered investigating Algonquian. You have to bear in mind that my investigations arise entirely from my discovery of an expansion of boat peoples in the wake of the retreat of the Ice Age in northern Europe. Unless one begins to try to trace the expansion of boat-oriented way of life, first by rivers to the east, and then into the arctic and Atlantic oceans, the question of whether boat-oriented aboriginal peoples also spread the original language - which I identify with the archeologically defined "Kunda" material culture - would not have occurred to them.
   Interestingly the Algonquian peoples pictured North America as a large turtle in a sea, a concept that would only be envisioned by seagoing peoples accustomed to travelling long distances in the sea. Because North America is very large, knowledge that it is surrounded by seas and is an island, requires people able to travel long distances along coasts and major rivers.
    The following looks at some of the more significant discoveries, according to various themes. The examples given here are from the "Ojibway Language Lexicon" by Basil Johnson, presenting his dialect of north of Superior, a dialect that is unlikely to have been subject to much influence from modern developments.
     (A proper study of correspondences requires a greater knowledge of Ojibwa than I have. Ojibwe, like Inuit, is built from strings of elements. There are no clear 'words' in the sense of modern European languages having clear 'words'. Thus it is necessary to be able to break down the words into constituent components. For that reason it is best if the analyst knows the Algonquian language well enough to grasp the inner composition.) 


    One of the concepts discussed earlier is the use of the AMA pattern to express 'water' in the sense of an expanse, a sea. In the discussion of the Inuit language, it appeared it was found there. Yes, we can find it within Ojibwa. For example 'he surfaces out of water' is mooshkamo, the word for water being expressed by I believe -kamo. The AMA pattern is also in gitchi/gami 'great water-body = ocean, sea'.  The idea of AMA seems to be present in Ojibwa, in that gami properly refers to a 'water-body, sea' and not to the liquid.
    Throughout early humankind, such as revealed in ancient Greek, the world was seen as a large sea in which all lands were islands in it. This flat fluid world represented a mother earth that was not made of earth, but was a sea.  Hence we should not be surprised if the AMA word form referred also the the word for 'mother'.  If gami meant 'sea', then it is interesting that the Ojibwa word element for 'mother' is -geem- which is relatively close to gami. In Estonian the word for 'mother' is ema.
    Does this indicate a view of a large water body as mother, the same as we see everywhere else? (Estonian ema, Basque ama 'mother')  Thus we can here see at least a coincidence in worldview - of seeing the expanse of the sea as the Mother Earth, except the earth was seen as a plane of water. In ancient Greek texts the known world was seen as being surrounded by seas. This concept may have originated long before ancient Greece, an accumulated wisdom that developed with the expansion of boat use, and long distance trade.
    So far we have not discovered much yet. We will have more success when we turn to the Ojibwa word for 'water', the liquid.


Although the Inuit language presents the V sound, the Ojibwa/Anishnabe language lacks the V, and B plays the role of the V. But neither are the V or B sound we are used to with English. Both sound more like a slightly voiced, slightly fricative B as opposed to the silent one. But we will write the Algonquian (Ojibwa) words according to modern practices. I will represent it here with "BH-"
    In the Ojibwa/Anishnabe language there exists the suffixes biiyauh a verbalizer meaning 'quality character nature of water or body of water' and bi, bii 'verbalizer/nominalizer refering to liquids, water'. Examples are biitae 'water bubble', biitau 'surf', nibi 'water', ziibi(in) 'river', mooshkibii 'he surfaces out of water'.  It can be argued that the voiced "B" was the original sound in all early languages. The Inuit "V" and even the Finnic "V" may have originated from a softer B-like sound that is simpler than "V". (A chimpanzee can produce such a "B" sound, while it cannot say the modern "V"!) Thus the original word for 'water' or 'liquid' may have sounded not like modern Est/Finn. "VEE" but more like "BHEE" or "WEE".  Another observation is that Inuit lacks the "E" sound, which suggests the original language of the boat people too lacked the "E" sound, and instead used "I". In that case Estonian/Finnish words for 'water' (the substance) would have been "VII" originally sounding like "BHII" or "WII". It may have survived without modification in the Finnic steam ui- which means 'swim, float'. It all makes sense that the earlier forms of the boat people language has endured longer in Inuit and Algonquian, while it came under the influences of European In

    Ojibwa Koogaediwin means 'village', 'temporary encampment'. As we saw above there was Inuit qaqqiq 'community house' versus Estonian/Finnish kogu/koko 'the whole, the gathering'. Indeed in the Estonian landscape a common name for a village was Kogela 'place of gathering'.


    We saw that the Inuit language had the dual form, but that was not significant since the explicit recognition of a dual form is only needed if the concept of being in a paired situation is important. What was important though, was that it appeared that the dual form was marked by the "K" as it is in Estonian/Finnish (example kaks/kaksi 'two').
    In Ojibwa too, the sound "G" appears to have a function similar to Estonian at least in its commative case ('also, too')        In Ojibwa, the pronoun niin means 'I' but adding ge- to the front as in geniin makes it 'me too'. This is analogous to Estonian ka mina 'also me'. It applies similarly to other pronouns.
    Continuing evidence of the use of G for dual: Ojibwa reveals a dual in the imperative, where commanding two people is marked by -G at the end. For example commanding one person is biindigen! 'you go inside', while commanding two people is biindigeg!. This resembles the Estonian plural imperative, which uses the -ge ending as in mine! becoming minge!.


     Ojibwa also distinguishes between animate and inanimate words. All nouns in Ojibwa or Cree language are animate or inanimate and the verbs must agree. The main marker is that animate nouns always end in G in the plural, while inanimate nouns end in N in the plural. For example the animate inini 'man' in plural becomes ininiwag while the inanimate ishkode 'fire' becomes ishkoden. This phenomenon of animate versus inanimate can be interpreted in an interesting way. Animate beings are things which 'accompany' the human, and thus require the K, G sound that marks accompanying. In other words 'fellow living beings'
   There is no distinction between animate or inanimate in Estonian/Finnish, but once there may have been, since many names of animals or trees begin with KA, KO, KU. For example Estonian karu, koer, kajakas, kaur, kala, kull, kask, kuusk, etc .(bear, dog, seagull, loon, fish, seagull, birch, fir, etc)  It suggests the Finnic primitive ancestors named animate things with "KA" plus some descriptive suffixes. It is clear that in the ancient past there was a more systematic use of the K sound in ways that recognized parallelism of animate things.


 It is significant to investigate the Ojibwa word for 'land, earth'. As I said above, if the sea-people used the word AMA to refer to the World-Mother, and mainly to the Sea-Mother, then they would have had another name for the land. In Basque (another language with deep roots), 'earth' is given by lur. This could in my view originate from Finnic ALU-RA 'way of the firmament, foundation'.
     The Ojibwa word for 'earth' is aki, but this word is similar to Ojibwa words related to time!
    It is not uncommon that where languages from the same origin drift apart, each can select a version of a word based on different stem ideas.For example in Finnish 'sun' is given by aurinko, which seems to have a connection to steam (aur-), while in Estonian 'sun' is given by päike. which resonates with äike 'lightning' so that pää äike seems like 'the main lightening'. Two related languages can thus look more different than they really are, when we consider that the same idea can be expressed, and preferred, in different ways.
    In this case, it looks like the Ojibwa word for 'earth' was derived from the idea of 'that which endures forever' - an eternal constant in the environment.
    This is proven if we find other words of similar form, describing aspects of 'time'.
     In Algonqian, ajina 'a while, a short time'.  It compares with Estonian aja- stem  meaning 'related to time'. In the Inuit examples we saw Inuit akuni 'for a long time', which we compared to Est./Finn. aeg/aika 'time', kuna/kun 'while', and kuni/--- 'until'.
    Estonian has the interesting imperative akka! meaning 'begin!'. Ojibwa has akawe! with the reverse meaning 'wait!'  These examples of words pertaining to time suggests that the Ojibwa word for 'land, earth' presents the concept of 'the everlasting place'. 


    The Ojibwa use of CHII in chiimaan, the word for 'canoe, boat, water-vessel' is peculiar, but can be explained in terms of the concept of the human body being a vessel of the spirit -- the boat too was seen as a vessel, container, hence the name chiimaan. One of the unique aspects of boat-people spiritual world-view is that spiritual journeys are seen to be carried out in spirit boats. The word for the soul-spirit in Ojibwa is chiibi after death and chiijauk when still alive. We can speculate on whether it has a connection with the Chi of oriental worldview, but for the present, we can point to Estonian, and its traditions using "HII".
    Most recently in Estonian tradition HII was used in the idea of grove as in püha hiis 'sacred grove', Thus one may wonder if it only meant 'grove'. The answer is that püha 'sacred' is probably redundant in  püha hiis. The -S ending on hiis suggests it originates from HIISE, meaning 'something connected with HII'. Elsewhere in the Estonian vocabulary one finds that hiig- means 'extreme, giant'.  The concept  'big, high, great' exists in Ojibwa also in the word kitchi.  Perhaps there is a connection between the two CHI situations. (?)In that case the common concept in all is 'extreme'
     To continue the quest for coincidences, the following are a sampling of words in no particular order, that resonated with Finnic (Finnish and/or Estonian were used.)


     The Ojibwa word awun 'fog' is interesting because the Algonquians had the practice of the sweat lodge, which in Finnic is called sauna. In Finnic the word fails to break down, other than au means 'honour'; but if we assume auna is 'fog', then the initial S would suggest 'in the fog'.


    An interesting Ojibwa word that used the word for 'water, surf' is kukaubeekayh meaning '(river) falls'. This word compares with Estonian/Finnish kukuda/kukua 'to fall'. Plus add vee 'water' . So in Estonian one can say kukuv vee-. 'falliing water'. Also kukozhae 'ashes, cinders' may reflect the same meaning of falling. An Ojibwa speaker can tell us if the implication in the kuko- element is 'fall'.


   Ojibwa kun means 'bone', and it compares with Estonian kont 'bone'.


   Ojibwa pun means 'lung' which reminds us of Inuit puvak 'lung' which connects well with Estonian puhu 'blow'. Ojibwa puyoh means 'womb', which reminds us of Inuit, paa 'opening', Estonian poeb 'he crawls through' Est/Finn poegima/poikia 'to bring forth young'.


     Another Ojibwa word element with coincidences in both Inuit and Estonian/Finnish is -nozhae- 'female'. We recall Inuit ningiuq 'old woman' and najjijuq 'she is pregnant'. These compare with Estonian/Finnish stem nais-/nais- meaning 'pertaining to woman, female-'. The Ojibwa nozhae is very close to Estonian/Finnish nais-/nais-, and with exactly the same meaning. Estonian says naine for 'woman', genitive form being naise 'of the woman'
    This is a word that can have such common use that it could survive with little change for many thousands of years.


      Another word that would have endured for thousands of years, is a word for 'father'. In Inuit we found the word for 'father' to be ataata. However the common Estonian word for 'father' is isa. This is reflected in Ojibwa -osse- 'father'.


 In Ojibwa we have the following referring to trees: metigimeesh 'oak', metigwaubauk 'hickory', and metigook 'trees'. In Estonian/Finnish mets/metsä means 'forest'.

TO SELF(Reflective) - ISS, IZ, IZO

     Ojibwa iss, iz, izo is a verbalizer, reflexive form, indicating action to the self, to one, to another. This compares with Estonian/Finnish ise/itse '(by) self'.


    Ojibwa kae is a verbalizer that makes nouns into verbs. Can be compared to Est/Finn. käis/kydä 'to go, function'. There is something similar in Inuit.


   Ojibwa ssin, assin shin is a verbalizer meaning to be in a place. This compares with Estonian/Finnish cases and words that use -S- and denote a relationship to the 'inside' of something. For example Estonian says tule sisse to mean 'come inside.' Note that we found  that Inuit too employed "S" to convey the idea of 'interior'


   Ojibwa had kakina 'all' which compares with Estonian/Finnish köik/kaikki also meaning 'all'.


    Ojibwa naub or naup means 'lace, string together, connect, join, unite', and Estonian/Finnish nööp/nappi 'button'.


     Ojibwa asin means 'rock', which compares with Estonian/Finnish asi/asia 'thing, object'.


     Ojibwa kayashk 'seagull' corresponds to Estonian kajakas 'seagull'. This is an almost exact parallel. Is it possible that in their seagoing days, seeing seagulls was important - a sign they were close to land, and the importance of the bird ensured the word would endure.


    The above selection represent very strong examples. There are of course many borderline examples whose similarities are not perfectly clear, unless a more comprehensive analysis is pursued. There is of course a balance of words with no resonances at all with either Inuit or Finnic, that have evolved through history, or arrived from other languages.
    But in general, the above examples seem to confirm immediate cultural connections to the Inuit of the North American arctic, and indirect connections going back to northern Europe many thousands of years ago..



author: A.Paabo, Box 478, Apsley, Ont., Canada


2018 (c) A. Pääbo.