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|Algonquian languages to English translations [Non-PRO]|
Linguistics / Names
|Algonquian languages term or phrase: Mahala|
|My gr gr grandmother's name was Mahala. I think that is a Shawnee name that means "girl", or "woman, or "female", or something to do at least with gender or maybe even somethig like "soft". Can anyone shed any light on this matter for me?|
|Summary of answers provided|
1772 days confidence:
"MAHALA: This name is usually said to mean "woman" in an unspecified Native American language, or sometimes a more fanciful meaning like "eyes of the sky" or "tender fawn." Those translations come from 19th-century romance novels and are fictional; however, Mahala does have at least two distinct Native American sources. One is that "mahala" (pronounced mah-hah-lah) was a slang word for an Indian woman in 1800's California. It came from a Mission Indian mispronunciation of the Spanish word "mujer" (which means woman.) As far as we know no Indian women have this name, but it is used in some place names in California, and "mahala mat" is another name for the plant also known as "squaw carpet." This is probably where the idea that Mahala means "woman" came from. It is less derogatory than the word "squaw," but is not really a native word. The second source of this name is the woman's name Mahala (pronounced mah-hey-lah) or Mahaley, which was fairly common among the southeastern Indian tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, etc.) during the 1800's. Unfortunately the origin of this name isn't clear; the word "mahala" does not have any meaning in any Indian language of the southeast. It may have been one of many Indian variants on the name Mary, or possibly a variant of Michaela. Or it could have been a corrupted or shortened form of a longer Indian woman's name or names. In the Tutelo and Saponi languages (two closely related southeastern Indian languages that are extinct today), the word for "woman" was "mahei," so it's possible that a name or set of names including the word "mahei" got corrupted into Mahala at some point in time. Or it's also possible that the name might have had African origins (many of the southeastern Indian tribes, especially the Saponi, were known for taking in African-Americans.)"
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