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Words for ‘dog’ as a diagnostic of language contact in the Americas

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Abstract

Words for ‘dog’ are frequently borrowed in several parts of the world, including the Americas. Often words for ‘dog’ are borrowed along with other lexical material. The study of the distribution of these borrowed words can serve as a first step towards the identification of evidence for linguistic and cultural contact. We offer three case studies from the Americas that illustrate how the identification of borrowings of ‘dog’ can lead to discoveries of intricate networks of interaction and provide surprising evidence for prehistorical commercial relations. The three areas studied are: Native California, the U. S. Southeast together with Mesoamerica, and the central Andes together with the eastern lowlands of South America.

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