Ok, it looks like there's a pretty strong consensus on the etymology questions! I'll give it a few more days before I make the results official though, in case anyone else wants to weigh in.
Regarding the various scenarios for the prehistory of PNT etc., I would give TzirTzi's ideas the most weight. The original Isles grammars can give us a guiding framework but we should be willing to admit they could be wrong in the details (e.g., those islands might have been inhabited previously). Sal's Canoe Culture idea, as I recall, was just a random thing proposed in this thread - a good idea, but ultimately just a theoretical consideration that we should scrap if it doesn't fit with the other data.
Yes, the NE Canoe Culture bit seems least interwoven with the rest... In particular, I don't seem to notice any strong reasons for it to emerge in the very NE, and not in e. g. the piece of coast immediately NE of Lotoka.
Or for it to be as early as Sal proposed (-6000 YP!), either. It might make more sense for long-distance seafaring to develop later, maybe with the PNT speakers themselves...? Of course this would affect other things, such as the Ultimundic migration, so it requires careful thought. But I definitely agree that preserving the Canoe Culture scenario is not a high priority.
I think we should be able to make the Isles grammars fit though. The extremely brief introduction to the Máotatšàlì grammar
, while it doesn't say anything about the historical situation, does suggest to me that the Núalís were probably the indigenous inhabitants of Tymytỳs "and several neighboring islands", so there's actually no problem there at all.
And on rereading the Mûtsipsa' grammar
, I realize that actually there are only two islands that aren't said to have Takuña populations: Ke'idû'ûs'as (the large island where the Mûtsinamtsys first arrive) and Duutkejdih (about which nothing is said except that it's the most distant from Ke'idû'ûs'as).
In my opinion, the grammar would mention Takuña if there were any there, since the whole story is about the relationship between those two groups; but I think the only thing that really needs explaining is why the Mûtsinamtsys didn't encounter them on Ke'idû'ûs'as. My suggestion for this is that the Takuña at this time were a mainland-based, agricultural culture (they must have had approximately the same level of agriculture and technology as the Mûtsinamtsys, since they met and competed on an equal footing), and had perhaps only recently begun settling the islands.
There probably would have been other people on Ke'idû'ûs'as, who simply don't figure in the story because they were quickly and easily replaced (or absorbed) by the Mûtsinamtsys. I'd say these people must have been less technologically advanced than the Takuña and Mûtsinamtsys, maybe without full-scale agriculture. Maybe they were more closely related to the Núalís (who seem to have been similarly replaced on Tymytỳs).
So (setting aside the Canoe Culture), the sequence of events I suggest is something like this:
1. The Coastal Siixtaguna Culture settles all the offshore islands. They are just as TzirTzi describes: seafaring hunter-gatherers with maybe some small-scale garden agriculture. The Núalís are their descendents in the northeast (Tymytỳs etc.).
2. Some time later, a related group on the mainland, the Takuña, adopt full-scale agriculture and expand along the coastal plain. (They probably originate in the south, maybe near Lotoka; they could be descended from a southern branch of the Coastal Siixtaguna Culture, or maybe even from a Continental group...?) They begin colonizing the nearest offshore islands, but (for some reason) don't establish themselves on Ke'idû'ûs'as.
3. Not too long after this, the Isles peoples arrive and take over the large islands of Ke'idû'ûs'as and Tymytỳs. The rest of the story is as in the Mûtsipsa' grammar.
Does this make sense to you guys?
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