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Vocabulary in Native American Languages: Houma Words

The Houma and Choctaw people spoke very closely related languages. Houma was evidently so similar to Choctaw that speakers of the two languages could understand each other easily, so most linguists consider Houma to have been a dialect of Choctaw. Since Houma is no longer natively spoken, it is impossible to be sure of this one way or the other. Here are a list of Choctaw words compared to Houma words collected in the early 1900's. Most of the differences seem to be related to spelling. The Houma words use "tc" to represent a sound like the "tch" in "itch," while modern Choctaw orthography uses "ch." Choctaw uses a "v" character to represent a short "uh" sound as in "cut," except at the end of a word where an "a" is used. The people who recorded Houma seem to have used "a" and "u" indiscriminately to represent the "uh" sound. Since English uses the same vowel for more than one sound, missionaries and other English speakers writing down Indian words were often rather careless about recording vowel sounds. It's likely that the Houma word recorded as "totcenu" was pronounced very similar to, if not the same as, Choctaw "tuchina."

In any event, here are the vocabulary words:

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Houma Word Set

English (Français) Choctaw Houma
One (Un) Vchvffa Tcafa
Two (Deux) Tuklo Toklu
Three (Trois) Tuchina Totcenu
Four (Quatre) Ushta Oshtu
Five (Cinq) Tałapi Tałape
Man (Homme) Hattak Atak
Woman (Femme) Ohoyo Oho
Dog (Chien) Ofi Ofe
Sun (Soleil) Hvshi Ashe
Moon (Lune) Hvshi Ashe
Water (Eau) Oka Oke
White (Blanc) Hanta Anta
Yellow (Jaune) Lvkna Lakna
Red (Rouge) Humma Homa
Black (Noir) Lusa Lusa
Eat (Manger) Vpa Apa
See (Voir) Pisa Pesa
Hear (Entendre) Haklo Haklu

Click here to see Choctaw vocabulary words compared to words in related Muskogean languages: Muskogean Indian Words

Additional Resources

   Mississippi Indian tribes
   English-Native American dictionary
   American Indian names meanings
   Muskogean tribe

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