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This Proto-Algonquian entry contains reconstructed words and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



It is not clear that a Proto-Algonquian term for “blue jay” actually existed or can be reconstructed. The most widely cited reconstruction, Siebert's *ti·nti·wa, does not account for the variety of forms attested in daughter languages (there are three variants in Ojibwe alone), and it is also phonologically unique in having [t] (*t) rather than its usual allophone [tʃ] (*č) before *.[1] Pentland proposes the alternate reconstruction *tent(ay)ehsiwa for these reasons.[1]

If a Proto-Algonquian term for “blue jay” did exist, it may have been borrowed into Siouan-Catawban at an early date to give rise to Catawba tinde, tindo (blue jay) and Dakota teténiča (blue jay); on the other hand, the Dakota term may simply derive from teté (blue, green), a reduplication of te (blue, green) (cognate to Lakota tȟó (blue, green)).[2][3][4]

Alternatively, the attested forms may all be onomatopoeic. (Compare the situation of English cuckoo, German Kuckuck, etc. — other synonymous words in related languages which yet do not derive from a common proto-language source.)



  1. the blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata


  • Plains Algonquian:
    • possibly Arapaho: tiwitita, tewititi (killdeer) (early 1900s form (from Kroeber)), tí'iihii (killdeer) (more recent form)
  • Central Algonquian:
  • Eastern Algonquian:
    • Mi'kmaq: tities (blue jay) (older form/spelling teeteěs)
    • Abenaki: tidesso (blue jay)
    • Malecite-Passamaquoddy: tihtiyas (blue jay)
    • Unami: tiyas (blue jay)

Compare Cree sêsêsiw / ᓭᓭᓯᐤ (sesesiw, snipe; plover).

Several terms which might superficially seem related can be shown to in fact be unrelated, e.g. Arapaho cenééteenii'éíhii (bluebird) (in fact a simple compound of cenééteeyóó (blue, green) and nii'éíhii (bird)), Cheyenne táhtaenotováhe (killdeer) (in fact a compound meaning "[one] marked around the neck").


  • Siebert (1967)
  • Goddard (1979)
  • Pentland (1983)
  • Costa, David J. (2003) The Miami-Illinois Language (Studies in the Native Languages of the Americas), Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, →ISBN
  1. 1.0 1.1 David H. Pentland, Proto-Algonquian c and [š], in the Actes du Quatorzième Congrès des Algonquinistes (1983), page 382, §3.3: "The various words for 'blue jay' are not easily derived from a single Proto-Algonquian form — there are three variants in Ojibwa alone. Siebert's (1967a: 18) reconstruction *tīntīwa should give only forms with [č] — never [t] — in the daughter languages, since Proto-Algonquian /tīntīwa/ represents phonetic [čīnčīwa]. A reconstruction /tent(ay)ehsiwa/ will account for most of the attested forms, but it must be assumed that there has been an irregular change of /e/ to /ī/ in most of the languages, ordered after the palatalization rule (Odawa and Caniba show diminutive consonant symbolism rather than palatalization): Cree /tēhtīsiw/, /tīhtīsiw/, Montagnais titisi8, Ojibwa /tēntēhsi/, /tīntīhsi/ and Odawa dialect /čīntīhs(īnh)/, Fox /tītīwa/, Kickapoo /tiitiia/, Miami tändaksa, Shawnee /tīti/, Micmac /tities/, Malecite ti-ti-ăs', Penobscot /tìtəyɑs/, Caniba tsitses8, Western Abenaki /titehsó/."
    Regarding the Caniba word, note this in the Papers of the Fifteenth Algonquian Conference, issues 15-16 (1984), page 178: "Rasles' word was cited by Pentland (1983:382) as the Caniba form for 'bluejay'. However, Rasles entered it without translation. Aubery gave the term titian̄s which matches the Penobscot /tìtəyɑs/. It seems unlikely that tsitses8 is a Caniba form for the bluejay given the data from Aubery. It is more likely that this is the name of some other species."
    The word could still be cognate, of course; compare Miami teentia.
  2. ^ Essays in Algonquian, Catawban, And Siouan Linguistics in Memory of Frank T. Siebert, Jr., edited by Blair A. Rudes and David J. Costa (2003), page 232: Siebert (1941b) for example, recorded [tinde] 'blue jay' for tine· (see Gatschet [1881] (tine) 'jaybird'). However, only in word-initial position was nasalization on m and n lost completely, []
  3. ^ Contributions to Anthropology: Linguistics (1967), page 53: "PA *ti·nti·wa 'Blue Jay.' F ti·ti·wa, Cw te·hti·siw (dimin.; with dissimilative (?) change of first vowel), O či·nti·ss (dimin.; original PA *t ~ *č before *i or *), S tiiti, P tìtəyɑs (reshaping with noun final -ɑs, as in kʷə́nɑwɑs 'Long Hair').
    Dakota teténiča 'blue jay' (Riggs, p. 467), Catawba tinde. This appears to be an early borrowing from Algonquian into Siouan, but it calls for more investigation on a diachronic level within Siouan. Both the Santee Sioux and Catawba had long contact with Algonquian peoples east of the Mississippi."
  4. ^ For the Dakota terms teténiča, teté and te, see the Dakota-English Dictionary of Stephen Riggs.
  5. ^ John D. Nichols, A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe (1995)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Richard A. Rhodes, Eastern Ojibwa-Chippewa-Ottawa Dictionary (1985)