Retronyms: The Karuk Language --Telling the Story of Linguistic Colonialism and Contact

Irene Yi, University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A;     Abstract: This paper aims to investigate and explain the linguistic innovation of retronyms in Karuk, an indigenous Native American language spoken along the Klamath River in northern California. Retronyms appeared in Karuk as a result of language contact with nonnative settlers, and while retronymy does not make up a majority of the linguistic innovations that came about due to cultural contact, this paper argues that retronyms in Karuk reflect the colonial nature of the contact between natives and nonnatives as they are an outcome of that very contact. The paper will examine what Karuk retronyms look like, as well as how retronymy in Karuk compares to instances of retronyms found in outside literature. While retronymy can come about as a result of natural language change and technological innovations in some languages, other languages see retronyms being formed due to colonial contact; this paper argues the latter being the case for Karuk retronymy. All of this has an effect on how the language is passed down, taught, and preserved.

Keywords: retronymy, Karuk, linguistic, change



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