corn ear

noun plant_part




Proto-Dakota *wahú-apa

Lakota wahúwapa ‘ear of corn’ RTC

Dakota wahuwapa ‘corn’ WM:49b

Proto-Hoocąk-Chiwere *wa-hą́pa

Chiwere wahámą ‘ear of corn’ GM

Hoocąk woohą́p ‘ear of corn’ KM:3784, JWE , woohąp

Proto-Dhegiha *hápa

Omaha-Ponca wahába ‘ear of corn’ RTC

Kanza/Kaw hába ‘corn, corn ear’ RR

Osage hápa ‘corn’ RR

General comment

Hidatsa hú•pa•ticorn ear’, wa•hú•pa, ma•hú•pa ‘corncob’ (J) are not directly cognate. They appear to be derived from Crow/Hidatsa hú•pahandle, stem’, q.v.; likewise Mandan húpatka ‘ear of corn’ (H). Their superficial similarity to the MVS term hápa is seductive, but corn only penetrated the northern Mississippi Valley about A.D. 1000, rendering real cognacy unlikely even if the phonological match were exact (which it is not). Since corn was most likely introduced into Mandan, Crow and Hidatsa from areas to the South, it is also possible that there has been borrowing from a Dakotan archetype †wahúapa, the dissimilar vowels falling together as long u• in the northern languages.

The term is not demonstrably cognate in MVS either however. Hoocąk, Chiwere nasalization is not expected, and Dakota h should not be lost. Several explanations for the MVS terms are possible, and it is hard to choose among them (v. Rankin 1990). (a) The MVS form may be related to Crow/Hidatsa apá•ri ‘grow, sprout’ which would evolve regularly into *apa in MVS.

Incorporating an object noun ha ‘covering, skin’, it would be MVS *há•pa ‘(it) grows a covering’ or with a noun forming prefix, wahá•pa ‘what grows a covering’, i.e., ‘corn’ with its husks. (b) The Omaha-Ponca cognate, wahába is also used to refer to the seed bearing part of cattails, and this may be the older meaning of the term in MVS with ‘corn’ a later semantic extension. (c) The term may be a loanword from Muskogean. Note the Choctaw: habali ‘tassel, as corn’ and habani ‘be about to tassel’. The Choctaw root is haba-. Any of these explanations is plausible, but cognacy across Siouan is not because of the timing of the introduction of corn. It should be noted that other terminology relating to the cultivation, preparation and consumption of corn is normally specific to particular subgroups in Siouan betraying its late origin or specialization.

Other languages

  • Tunica: háhka ‘corn’ MRH
  • Choctaw: habali ‘tassel, as corn’ RR
Language Cognate Phonetic Siouan Meaning Comment Sources