Abstract: An unusual conflation in the meaning of directional terms whereby 'out to sea (or the open water)' is equated with 'towards the fireplace' (and the converse, 'to shore' with 'away from the fireplace') has been observed in a number of languages of the Northwest Coast of America and of the Russian Far East. The origin and motivation for this correlation has remained a mystery, being much more specific than the overlap between terms referring to the macrocosm (the geographical surroundings) and to the microcosm (the house) that is typical of Arctic and Subarctic languages. This article presents an explanation for the phenomenon, which appears—surprisingly—to have its roots deep within Siberia.
Anthropological Linguistics – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Feb 1, 2011