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Old 16 October 2007, 01:19 AM
Insensible Crier Insensible Crier is offline
 
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Reading Why Columbus called the people Indians

To my knowledge, Columbus called the native people he met in his American voyages Indians because he believed he had reached the East Indies. He wasn't where he thought he was. Most (well, all of it actually) of what I managed to find repeats this as the reason.

Well, I was listening to the commentary on one of the episodes of Family Guy Volume 5 and Seth Mcfarlane claims that Columbus called them Indians because "indio" in Spanish means "people of the land."

I can't find a thing to back up his claim (which is strange, usually you find at least one crazy blogger with a similar theory) and indio in Spanish means, well, Indian but then there may be some etymology to this word I can't find.

Now, Seth McFarlane is not an history professor but so far it looks like he made the whole thing up or he's believing a UL that hasn't quite caught on to the masses yet. Anyone else have anything on this?
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  #2  
Old 16 October 2007, 03:14 AM
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Read This!

Columbus refers to Indians, the Indian Sea, and India in a 1494 letter describing his first voyage. I don't know where that other story comes from. As far as I can tell, he never used the word "indio" in his descriptions.
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Old 16 October 2007, 08:00 AM
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For it's worth, a common claim, one that came up on the old board a couple times, is that "Indian" derives from "en Dios" ("of God") or "in Dio" ("in God").

This belief holds that Columbus called the Arawak, the first native people he met, a "gente en Dios" ("people of God") or similar. But there's no evidence for that. A portion of Dave Wilton's comment in Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends is viewable via Google Books. Erik Mattila challenged this false derivation in a 2000 post to alt.native. (There's another debunking here, but you'll have to overlook the rhetoric.)

Last I looked, the earliest appearance of this faux etymology seemed to come from Russell Means's 1980 "Black Hills Speech,"

Quote:
There is also some confusion about the word Indian, a mistaken belief that it refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in God."
-- Bonnie
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Old 16 October 2007, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
Columbus refers to Indians, the Indian Sea, and India in a 1494 letter describing his first voyage. I don't know where that other story comes from. As far as I can tell, he never used the word "indio" in his descriptions.
For some reason I don't think he used English, though.
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Old 16 October 2007, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Floater View Post
For some reason I don't think he used English, though.
If English is good enough for Christopher Columbus...
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Old 16 October 2007, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Floater View Post
For some reason I don't think he used English, though.
The original transcription is available at the same site.
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Old 16 October 2007, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Floater View Post
For some reason I don't think he used English, though.
A transcription of the original is available at the same site.
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Old 16 October 2007, 11:12 AM
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Lancastrian Lancastrian is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
If English is good enough for Christopher Columbus...
It certainly was! It was that Cristoforo Colombo guy who talked funny.
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  #9  
Old 16 October 2007, 01:02 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonnie View Post
Last I looked, the earliest appearance of this faux etymology seemed to come from Russell Means's 1980 "Black Hills Speech,"
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Look it up on the old maps.
Here you go, Russell. (Linked from this document from Project Gutenberg).

Nick
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Old 17 October 2007, 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Lancastrian View Post
It certainly was! It was that Cristoforo Colombo guy who talked funny.
He wore a big dumpy raincoat, smoked cigars, drove a dinged up Peugot, and always had one more thought just when you hoped he was going.

Silas
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  #11  
Old 22 October 2007, 01:51 PM
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"To be an Indian from Trinidad is to be unlikely...this word 'Indian' has been abused as no other word...;almost every time it is used it has to be qualified. There was a time in Europe when everything Oriental or unsual was judged to come from Turkey or India. So Indian ink is really Chinese ink and India paper first came from China. When Columbus landed on the island of Guanahani, he thought he had got to Cathay. He ought therefore to have called the people Chinese. But East was East. He called them Indians, and Indians they remained, walking Indian file through the Indian corn. And so, too, that American bird which to English-speaking people is the turkey is to the French le dindon, the bird of India."

V.S. Naipaul, m'lud, in 1965, starting to describe the difficulties of his ethnicity. As a general rule, there is great difficulty in distinguishing between Sir Vidia and a lowering storm cloud, so anything in his work approaching a joke, from whatever angle, is to be prized.

Incidentally (whatever that ridiculous word means) Russian for turkey is indika; and in Portugese it's peru, which is probably why Luis Henrique last November briefly changed his screen name to Peru, Not Turkey.

I agree, not very helpful. But it passes the time.
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  #12  
Old 22 October 2007, 06:02 PM
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I have always heard the tale that Columbus thought he was in the East Indies, and never really questioned it...

But the thought does now strike me that the size of the Earth was pretty accuratley known, and Columbus was a pretty good navigator who surely couldn't have thought he was that far out in his reckoning!!
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Old 22 October 2007, 06:10 PM
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What pays better when you report back to the queen, "we have found a new trade route to established profits" or "I don't know where we went, but it's sunny a lot." ?
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Old 22 October 2007, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by hambubba View Post
What pays better when you report back to the queen, "we have found a new trade route to established profits" or "I don't know where we went, but it's sunny a lot." ?
How about, I have discovered a new land and give it to you as a present??!
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  #15  
Old 23 October 2007, 04:11 PM
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Of course this pops a question into my head...what is the etymology of the word Indigenous?

It doesn't seem to require a big leap to go from the word Indigenous related to something native, and Indian refering to someone who is native to somewhere.

Probably not, but who knows.
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  #16  
Old 23 October 2007, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matches View Post
Of course this pops a question into my head...what is the etymology of the word Indigenous?
It's from Latin, meaning something like "in born" or "born within" and therefore probably completely unrelated to the river (Indus, among other names) from which the word India comes.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=indigenous
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  #17  
Old 25 October 2007, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
It's from Latin, meaning something like "in born" or "born within" and therefore probably completely unrelated to the river (Indus, among other names) from which the word India comes.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=indigenous
yes, but that it is a latin root, it is possible (though unlikely) that Columbus was refering to the people he met as those people "born within" the land he had discovered. Obviously from most reports he thought he was in india, and so that's the derivation of the term indian, but on the option that he actually did realize he was somewhere other than where he intended, it's as good a possibility as In Dio.
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  #18  
Old 26 October 2007, 05:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matches View Post
yes, but that it is a latin root, it is possible (though unlikely) that Columbus was refering to the people he met as those people "born within" the land he had discovered. Obviously from most reports he thought he was in india, and so that's the derivation of the term indian, but on the option that he actually did realize he was somewhere other than where he intended, it's as good a possibility as In Dio.
I can't understand what you mean. He didn't write "In Dio" or indigenous. He wrote (what would later become the equivalent of) Indians and India, by which he meant Asia.
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  #19  
Old 06 December 2007, 12:31 PM
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Given the fact that the letter itself is titled "Concerning the Islands Recently Discovered in the Indian Sea" it seems pretty clear that Columbus was indeed convinced he had landed in the vicinty of India. There are numerous references in the original Latin to "mari Indico" (Indian Sea) and Indis (Indians)

Quote:
But the thought does now strike me that the size of the Earth was pretty accuratley known, and Columbus was a pretty good navigator who surely couldn't have thought he was that far out in his reckoning!!
The size of the Earth had been pretty accurately *estimated* by that time, but obviously could not have been truly known. According to at least one source cited at Wikipedia Columbus was actually a rather inexperienced navigator at the time, and much of the enthusiasm for his undertaken stemmed from his having greatly underestimated the Earth's circumference (and hence, the distance to Asia) It also turns out ol' Chris was reading map distances entirely wrong, and subscribed to grossly incorrect (and outdated) calculations.

Bottom line is that it's very clear from both the translation and the original text that Columbus called the locals "Indians," meaning "people from India" and the name stuck.

Certainly there are words whose current forms are based on mistranslations or mis-heard phrases, but "Indians" does not appear to be one of them.
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  #20  
Old 21 December 2007, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by TomBernard View Post
The size of the Earth had been pretty accurately *estimated* by that time, but obviously could not have been truly known. According to at least one source cited at Wikipedia Columbus was actually a rather inexperienced navigator at the time, and much of the enthusiasm for his undertaken stemmed from his having greatly underestimated the Earth's circumference (and hence, the distance to Asia) It also turns out ol' Chris was reading map distances entirely wrong, and subscribed to grossly incorrect (and outdated) calculations.
Maybe. But in the 1400's, there was no known way to determine longitude, so it wouldn't have mattered if he knew the distances, since he would only have a very rough idea of how far he'd gone.
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