Excerpt: "Now when we come to inquire into the languages of the American Indians for evidence of their relationship to other peoples we are struck with this fact: we cannot connect the languages of America with those of any other part of the world. This is a very notable circumstance. The languages of Europe and Asia are, as it were, dovetailed together, and run far and wide into Africa. From Asia eastward, through the Malay tongues, a connection may be traced even with the speech of the Maori of New Zealand, and with that of the remotest islanders of the Pacific. But similar attempts to connect American languages with the outside world break down. There are found in North America, from the Arctic to Mexico, some fifty-five groups of languages still existing or recently extinct. Throughout these we may trace the same affinities and relationships that run through the languages of Europe and Asia. We can also easily connect the speech of the natives of North America with that of natives of Central and of South America. Even if we had not the similarities of physical appearance, of tribal customs, and of general manners to argue from, we should be able to say with certainty that the various families of American Indians all belonged to one race. The Eskimos of Northern Canada are not Indians, and are perhaps an exception; it is possible that a connection may be traced between them and the prehistoric cave-men of Northern Europe. But the Indians belong to one great race, and show no connection in language or customs with the outside world. They belong to the American continent, it has been said, as strictly as its opossums and its armadillos, its maize and its golden rod, or any other of its aboriginal animals and plants."
About Stephen Leacock
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Published May 12, 2012
by Toronto ; Glasgow : Brook.
History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction.