Mobilian Trade Language

Mobilian Jargon

Mobilian Jargon (also Mobilian trade language, Mobilian Trade Jargon, Chickasaw-Choctaw trade language, Yamá) was a pidgin used as a lingua franca among Native American groups living along the Gulf of Mexico around the time of European settlement of the region. The name refers to the Mobile Indians of the central Gulf Coast.

Mobilian Jargon facilitated trade between tribes speaking different languages. European exploring parties, such as that of de Soto, often had Mobilian-speaking guides along as interpreters.

Distribution

Mobilian was used from the Florida northwest coast and area of the current Alabama-Georgia border westward as far as eastern Texas and in the north from the lower Mississippi Valley (currently south and central Illinois) to the southern Mississippi River Delta region in the south. It is known to have been used by the Alabama, Apalachee, Biloxi, Chacato, Pakana, Pascagoula, Taensa, and Tunica.

Origins

Mobilian is a pidginized form of Choctaw and Chickasaw (both Western Muskogean) that also contains elements of Eastern Muskogean languages such as Alabama and Koasati, colonial languages including Spanish, French, and English, and perhaps Algonquian and/or other languages. Pamela Munro has argued that Choctaw is the major contributing language (not both Choctaw and Chickasaw) although this has been challenged by Emanuel Drechsel.

Grammar

It has a simplified syllable and sound structure and a simplified grammar as compared to Choctaw, its primary parent language.

Bibliography

  • Munro, Pamela. (1984). On the Western Muskogean source for Mobilian. International Journal of American Linguisics, 50, 438-450.
  • Drechsel, Emanuel. (1987). On determining the role of Chickasaw in the history and origin of Mobilian Jargon. International Journal of American Linguisics, 53, 21-29.
  • Drechsel, Emanuel. (1997). Mobilian Jargon: Linguistic and Sociohistorical Aspects of a Native American Pidgin. Oxford University Press

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