By Erik Boot
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Extra info for A Short Itza Maya Vocabulary
Since Nahuatl was an important lingua franca of the area, it almost certainly was the source of this caique, as well as the source of the diffused modifier caxtillan (see chapter 11). " Spread of these loan translations was almost certainly facilitated by lingua franca Nahuatl (chapter 11). Mesoamerican languages also provide a possible example of a semantic loan. " When sheep were introduced, some area language possibly extended its term for native COTTON to the imported creature. This usage could have served as a model for the development of semantic loans for SHEEP in other Mesoamerican languages.
In Tenejapa Tzeltal, a Mayan language spoken in the Mexican state of Chiapas, one reversal has involved the relative cultural significance of native deer and introduced sheep (Berlin 1972). At the time of the Spanish conquest, DEER were designated cih. When sheep were introduced, they were equated with deer. This almost certainly was first realized nomenclaturally through the referential extension of cih to SHEEP, thus creating a polysemous label that designates both referents. As sheep increased in cultural salience, an overt marking construction, tunim cih, literally, "cotton deer," developed as a means for lexically distinguishing SHEEP from DEER (in this expression, cih is a base and tunim "cotton" is an overt mark).
To refer unambiguously to PEAS, one uses the overt marking construction toponibihuura7 (literally, "round bean/peas"). Choctaw demonstrates a marking reversal in which a compound label for native RABBIT, chukfi A/ma, consists of a polysemous word, chukft, denoting both RABBIT and introduced SHEEP, and a modifier (luma "hidden"). Presumably, in situations such as these, optional compound constructions are there to be used when context does not render the intended referent absolutely clear. Salience, marking value, and nomenclature Witkowski and Brown (1983) outline circumstances under which referential extension results in nomenclatural patterns discussed above.