A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timucua Language

A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timucua Language

by Julian Granberry

View All Available Formats & Editions

Taken from the surviving contemporary documentary sources, Julian Granberry's volume describes the grammar and lexicon for the extinct 17th-century Timucua language of Central and North Florida and traces the origins of the 17th-century Timucua speakers and their language. Originally privately published in 1987, with limited circulation, this is the only available

…  See more details below


Taken from the surviving contemporary documentary sources, Julian Granberry's volume describes the grammar and lexicon for the extinct 17th-century Timucua language of Central and North Florida and traces the origins of the 17th-century Timucua speakers and their language. Originally privately published in 1987, with limited circulation, this is the only available publication on the Timucuan language. It provides full grammatical analysis and complete lexical data, and it synthesizes both linguistic and archaeological data in order to provide a coherent picture of the Timucua peoples. Granberry traces the probable historical origins of Timucua speakers to a central Amazonian homeland at approximately 2,500 B.C. and proposes that Timucua speakers were responsible for introducing ceramic wares into North America.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Granberry's volume is a remarkably comprehensive treatment of the Timucuan language and will undoubtedly stand as a classic reference for linguists, ethnohistorians, and archaeologists alike. He has done a commendable job of compiling, synthesizing, and preserving what little evidence remains of this now-extinct Native American language, finishing a task begun by Spanish friars nearly four centuries ago."
—John E. Worth, Fernbank Museum of Natural History

"Ought to be on the shelf of anyone interested in the Timucua and Native American languages of the region. . . . The grammatical sketch and dictionary are perhaps the most valuable parts of the book. . . . The dictionary is extensive and an invaluable aid to anyone trying to understand the grammar of the Timucua sources."
Southeastern Archaeology

Originally published privately in 1987 (with limited circulation), and here revised for the second time. Draws on surviving contemporary documentary sources to describe the grammar and lexicon of the language spoken by the Timucua people, who, until their extinction in the 17th century, inhabited central Alabama, north and central Florida, and south and central Georgia. Also synthesizes linguistic and archaeological data to trace the origins of the Timucua people. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

University of Alabama Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timucua Language

By Julian Granberry

The University of Alabama Press

Copyright © 1993 The University of Alabama Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8173-8346-6




The Timucua language was spoken from an indeterminate position on the Georgia coast—at least as far north as the Altamaha River—south through north and central Florida to the Daytona Beach region. Southeastern Georgia as far inland as the Okefenokee Swamp, all of interior north Florida from the Aucilla River in the west to the Atlantic in the east, and all of central Florida from the Withlacoochee River east to Cape Canaveral was Timucua territory (Granberry 1987:15-19, Deagan 1978:89-90, Milanich 1978:60-61). The Florida Gulf coast lowlands west of the Aucilla and the Withlacoochee were not part of the Timucua realm. They were, rather, populated by tribal groups of Muskogean affiliation, stretching from the Apalachee homelands down the entire Gulf coast periphery to, and probably including, the Calusa country of far south Florida. South and west of a line from the sources of the Withlacoochee through southern Orange County to Lake Harney, just inland and slightly north of Cape Canaveral, there seems to have been sparse, if any, Timucua settlement. The Florida east coast peoples from the Cape south to the Keys were also most probably Muskogean-speaking.

Inland and to the west of this heartland region the Timucua-speaking Oconi and Tawasa were situated along the river systems of otherwise solidly Muskogean-speaking central Georgia and Alabama (Swanton 1946:165, 190-191), possibly occupying this riverine niche as far north as the Tennessee-North Carolina-Georgia-Alabama border and perhaps sporadically as far west as the Fourche Maline River in southeastern Oklahoma, to judge from archaeological evidence (Ford 1969:176, 188). The possibility of this latter extension is reinforced by a significant number of Timucua lexical forms probably borrowed from Choctaw (8 items) and the western languages of Eastern Muskogean (Apalachee, Koasati, and Alabama, with 21) as well as at least one form of possible Natchez origin—Tim. iyola: Nat. /ula/ 'snake' (Granberry 1987:43). The Oconi were found as far west and south as the confluence of the Flint, Chattahoochee, and Apalachicola Rivers in the mid-1600's, and in the 1700's they settled on the Alachua Prairies of north-central Florida, retrenching as all the remnant Timucua tribes did toward Spanish protection in St. Augustine against increasing Muskogean and Anglo-American pressures from the north. The earliest reference to the Tawasa stems from the de Soto expedition of 1540, when they were located on the Tallapoosa or upper Alabama River (Swanton 1929). One hundred and seventy years later they were still located in the region between Montgomery, Alabama, and the Chattahoochee-Apalachicola confluence with extensions as far west and south as the Mobile area.

Timucua was the primary native language in this large area at the time of the arrival of the Spanish and French in the late 1500's. If linguistic and archaeological correlations are accurate, it may have been spoken in this region from approximately 2,000 B.C. (Meggers and Evans 1978:297; Granberry, 1991). It remained so until the end of the First Spanish Period in 1763, when the remnant Timucua speakers, heavily Christianized and acculturated to European lifeways, were moved to Cuba. There they were settled in the town of San Agustin Nueva near Habana, familiarly called then as now by the Timucua name Ceibamocha, 'Speaking Place by the Ceiba Tree'—mo + cha = 'speaking place' (personal communication, Michael Gannon, November 1989). This represents a typical manner of naming primary Timucua towns, as in Utinamocha(ra) 'Speaking Place of the Lord of the Land', the name of one of the primary Timucua towns of Utina Province. Ultimately these refugees merged with the general population (Granberry 1987:19). Some Tawasa speakers survived until the early 1700's—we have a short Tawasa vocabulary from 1707—but they, too, soon disappeared as a separate entity, absorbed into the Muskogean-speaking Alabama, by whom they were still remembered by name as late as 1914 (Swanton 1929:446).

While we have no information on the organization of either the Oconi or the Tawasa at the time of initial French and Spanish colonization, the Timucua of southeast Georgia and Florida were organized into tribal-political units, some apparently very loose-jointed, others with a considerable degree of formalization. The approximate geographical boundaries of these entities are shown on the map in Fig. 1. These tribal units have been ably defined and discussed by Milanich (1978) and Deagan (1978) and can be summarized as follows:



E. of the Aucilla & W.
of the Suwannee
(Madison & Taylor


N. of the Santa Fe into S.

Georgia & from the E.
bank of the Suwannee to
the W. bank of the St.


Alachua County.

Marion County, NE of
the Ocala Nat. Forest &

S. to the Central Florida

Georgia oppostie Jekyll
Island W. to the Satilla


W. of the Satilla & St.

Mary's on W. to the


Between the Satilla &
the N. bank of the St.

Mary's opposite

Cumberland Is.

Cumberland Island.

From the Atlantic W. to
the E. bank of the St.

Mary's & St. Johns, from
the S. bank of the St.

Mary's in the N. to S. of

St. Augustine in the S.

From the Atlantic W. to
the E. bank of the St.

Johns from just S. of St.

Augustine in the N. to
the vicinity of Lake

Harney in the S.

Between the Oklawaha
& St. Johns, from the

Ocala Nat. Forest in the

N. to just S. of Orlando
in the S.

In addition to the above tribal-political entities Pareja (1627:f.37) refers to the Tucururu, presumably somewhere in southeastern Georgia. This, however, is the sole mention, so far as I am aware, of this Timucua-speaking group, and we cannot even make an intelligent guess regarding its identity or affiliations.

Laudonnière and Le Moyne (Lorant 1946) refer to the Onatheaqua, located immediately to the east of the Aucilla River on the East/West Florida boundary, but there is no other mention of this group in the literature of the times. Onatheaqua does not have a Timucua ring to it. It is possibly Muskogean (<th> = [t]?).

The Tocobaga, Oçita (=Pohoy?), and Mococo, encountered by the de Soto expedition in the Tampa Bay region and mistakenly considered by Swanton (1946:193) to be Timucua, were most probably not Timucuan, judging from the archaeological and the ethnographic evidence. Rather the affiliations seem to be with the clearly Muskogean peoples of northwest Florida and/or the probably Muskogean Calusa to the south (Bullen 1978).

Lastly, two bogus terms, Yust ega and Mocamo, have inadvertently crept into the literature on Florida archaeology since the 1960's. Neither spelling occurs in any original source, or, for that matter, secondary source, from the late 16th century through the mid 20th century. Mocamo, in fact, is morphologically impossible in Timucua, and these mistakes should be corrected back to Yusta ga and Mocama, as they uniformly occur in the sources of the times.


While dialect differences within Timucua seem to have been slight, it is neverthless the case that dialect boundaries, as indicated by Pareja, seem to have coincided very closely with tribal-political boundaries. This is probably just another way of saying that tribal-political entities were defined largely along dialect lines. The only dialect we are unable to correlate with a political entity is the Tucururu dialect, which, as indicated above, is only mentioned once.

We know that there were eleven Timucua dialects: Timucua proper, Potano, Itafi, Yufera, Mocama, Tucururu, Agua Fresca, Agua Salada, Acuera, Oconi, and Tawasa (Pareja 1627:36-37; Adam and Vinson 1886:xxi, 47, 88, 119, 121; Granberry 1987:19-20; Swanton 1929). The term Agua Salada (Salt Water) has often been taken as a descriptive phrase referring to the Mocama dialect and the two conflated as a single dialect, usually referred to as Agua Salada (Milanich and Sturtevant 1972:1). The latter, however, is a distinct and different dialect, spoken on undefined sections of the Florida Atlantic coast in the Eastern Timucua region. Judging from lexical forms explicitly cited by Pareja, Agua Salada is more closely aligned to the western dialects—Potano and Timucua—than to Mocama (Adam and Vinson 1886:88, 121). Other than a short Tawasa word-list and isolated words in other dialects in Pareja's Arte the surviving texts represent the Mocama and Potano dialects exclusively.

The present study deals with the Mocama dialect only, inasmuch as this was the dialect with which Pareja and Movilla were intimately familiar and in which they wrote their religious tracts. This dialect, spoken all along the Atlantic coast of Florida from Cumberland Island in the north to the area of St. Augustine in the south and as far west as the east banks of the St. Johns River, was the dominant dialect of the Eastern Timucua (Deagan 1978:92). The Timucua dialect proper was the dominant dialect of the Western Timucua, to the west of the St. Johns (Milanich 1978:62). Pareja's division reflects our current archaeological definition of Eastern vs. Western Timucua sub-cultural differences (Milanich 1978, Deagan 1978).

Dialects and tribal-political entities may be correlated as follows:



Agua Salada
Coastal Saturiwa
Agua Fresca
Agua Dulce
Icafui/Cascange, Yui (Ibi)
Tacatacuru, Saturiwa
Oconi (not a unit)
Yustaga, Potano, Ocale?
Tawasa (not a unit)

My earlier statements on Timucua dialects (Granberry 1956:99) were incomplete and should not be followed.

The only dialect other than Mocama and Potano for which we have any substantive data is Tawasa. For that dialect we have a 60-word lexicon from 1707 given by a native speaker named Lamhatty (Swanton 1929:447-449). For the other non-dominant dialects we must rely on the occasional citation of forms in Pareja's Arte.

From Lamhatty's vocabulary it is clear that Tawasa speakers had been in close contact with the Muskogean Alabama for a considerable period of time. A blend of both Timucua and Alabama lexical stems and grammatical affixes occurs even in that short word-list. So, for example, the Muskogean same-subject suffix t occurs often in Lamhatty's forms, as does the Timucua proximate time verbal suffix -la. One cannot help but wonder whether the Tawasa speech of the early 1700's had not undergone the same kind of creolization that we see in the neighboring Mobilian 'jargon' (Haas 1975, Crawford 1978).

We do know that there was a close relationship between the Alabama and the Tawasa, for the Toasi are mentioned by the de Soto chroniclers as early as 1540 on the lower Tallapoosa or upper Alabama River in the vicinity of present-day Montgomery (Swanton 1946:190).

In the dictionary section of this volume lexical items from a specific Timucua dialect other than Mocama are so labeled. Forms without a dialect label are Mocama and in all likelihood also common Timucua. For ready reference Lamhatty's vocabulary and the non-Mocama lexical forms given in Pareja's Arte (1614, Adam and Vinson 1886) are also given in the following table. The Potano vocabulary of the two Timucua letters discussed earlier has not been thoroughly analyzed yet and is, therefore, not included in the following list. All forms are given in the source spelling (Tawasa forms are from Swanton 1929:447-449). In the Tawasa forms, on the basis of English graph-phoneme correspondences, orthographic <à(h)> is interpreted as /a/; <è(h)> as /e/; <e>, <é>, <ée>, <ée>, <ie>, <>, and <ea< as /i/; <o>, <ò>,<ough>, and <óo> as /o/; <oo>, <>, <>, <ou>, and <> as /u/; and <ú> as /u/ or /b/ depending on the orthographic context.


The late John Goggin made the first attempt to correlate the then known linguistic, ethnographic, and archaeological data on the Timucua (Goggin 1953). His insights still hold together remarkably well after a period of almost forty years of increasingly intensive archaeological work in the Timucua region.

The most recent summaries of archaeological correlates of Timucua tribal/linguistic units are those of Milanich (1978) for the Western Timucua and Deagan (1978) for the Eastern Timucua. Both are careful, well-written accounts which build on Goggin's earlier base. The primary alteration of Goggin's data is the elimination of his Southern Timucua group (Tocobaga, Oçita, Mocoço), largely on the basis of data acquired since the time Goggin wrote, which would suggest that these Tampa Bay tribes were likely Muskogean in language and wider cultural affiliation (Bullen 1978).

Both Kathleen Deagan and Jerald Milanich have continued their work in the Timucua area, and, since the late-1980's, a wide range of excavation, associated laboratory analysis, and comparative archaeological, ethnozoological, and ethnohistoric research has been undertaken in various parts of the Timucua-speaking areas by an unusually talented group of younger scholars, the third generation of Timucua-region archaeologists. Among those particularly active in the area are: Stanley C. Bond, Jr., Amy Bushnell, Ann S. Cordell, Glen H. Doran, David J. Hally, John H. Hann, Kenneth W. Johnson, Richard E. Johnson, Timothy Kohler, Chung H. Lee, Lana J. Loucks, Rochelle Marrinan, Bruce C. Nelson, Lee Newsom, Irvy R. Quitmyer, William H. Radisch, Elizabeth J. Reitz, Donna L. Ruhl, Michael Russo, Rebecca Saunders, John F. and C. Margaret Scarry, Brenda J. Sigler-Lavelle, David H. Thomas, Richard H. Vernon, Brent R. Weisman, and John E. Worth. The work of these professionals has added considerable refinement both to our picture of Timucua society—particularly in Utina (Timucua), Potano, Icafui, and Saturiwa Provinces—and to definition of the movements of Timucua and Muskogean peoples within northern Florida and southern Georgia during the late prehistoric and early historic, Mission, periods (cf. Deagan 1985, 1987; Weisman 1992).

The Eastern Timucua (Yui, Icafui/Cascange, Yufera, Tacatacuru, Saturiwa, Agua Dulce, and Acuera) are represented archaeologically by the long St. Johns Tradition in Florida and this tradition together with the Wilmington-Savannah on the Georgia coast, the latter showing a blend of what seem to be native Timucua with indigenous Muskogean-Guale artifactual traits. The Western Timucua (Yustaga, Utina, Potano, Ocale) participate in two sub-traditions of the Alachua Tradition—exemplified by the Alachua and Suwannee Valley ceramic series in North-Central Florida and North Florida respectively, and, somewhat later, by the Fort Walton/Leon-Jefferson Traditions. The picture in the western region is considerably more complex than that in the eastern region inasmuch as the north-central and northwestern parts of Florida were from earliest times a mixing-ground for peoples (?) and traits, both indigenous and foreign, from the west, east, and, particularly, the north.


Excerpted from A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timucua Language by Julian Granberry. Copyright © 1993 The University of Alabama Press. Excerpted by permission of The University of Alabama Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >