How Not to Go Native; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS
Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge
QUESTION Did Native Americans really say 'How!' to greet one another?
INTERACTION between early European explorers and the native peoples of the Americas was full of misunderstandings and errors, largely resulting from communication problems. Each tribal group had its own language and there were many distinct dialects among widely-dispersed groups such as Ojibwe.
It is known that inter-tribal sign languages were used across most of North America, though the Plains version is the only one recorded in detail.
Early communication between English, Dutch and French explorers and native groups of the Eastern Woodlands relied heavily on signs rather than verbal language.
Some efforts were eventually made to set down native words, such as the Powhatan lexicon written by John Smith and William Strachey between 1612 and 1624 and the Natick-Massachusett dictionary produced by these of the word 'how' or anything like it.
Many of the Iroquoian and Algonquian languages of this area include untranslatable expressions used to encourage a speaker relating a story -- and the Huron term haau was recorded as such by French Jesuit Jean de Brebeuf in the 1630s.
The Oxford English Dictionary points to this word as the origin of 'how', although it certainly wasn't a greeting, and its subsequent transfer into English remains unexplained as the Huron allied themselves firmly with the French.
There are other candidates from further west including the Blackfoot term hau hau! used as a form of salutation along with the more common oki!.
In the unrelated Lakota language, spoken by western Sioux tribes, hau appears as a word for 'yes' or 'hello' used only by men, but always with a relationship term attached: hau kola means 'greetings my fellow warrior society member'.
David Rayner, Canterbury, Kent.
QUESTION What role did the Royal Navy play during the English Civil War?
A KEY cause of the Civil War was King Charles I's levy of Ship Money, a tax first raised in the reign of Elizabeth I, at a time when the Spanish Armada threatened invasion. The Crown levied the tax on the coastal towns of England to help supply ships and crews in defence of the country.
In the 1630s, Charles's profligate spending had left England's coffers empty and his advisors suggested Ship Money could be imposed without infringing the Petition of Right he had signed in 1628 limiting the Crown's tax-levying powers without recourse to Parliament.
In 1634, Ship Money Tax was levied on the coastal towns and the City of London, and raised more than [pounds sterling]100,000 without much protest.
During the autumn of 1635, the tax was imposed on the entire country -- clearly excessive in a time when Britain wasn't under threat of foreign invasion, and many sheriffs objected. Their appeals rejected, they faced the onerous task of extracting money from a population already overburdened by taxation.
In 1637, Parliamentarian John Hampden became a national hero when he was prosecuted for refusing to pay the tax on his lands in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
Charles had little, if any, intention of giving the money to the Navy Royal (not called the Royal Navy until the Restoration in 1660). There were 50 menof-war in 1633, but by 1642, the year war broke out, this was down to 42. The bulk of any money actually spent on the Navy went on Charles's vanity project, the 90-gun Sovereign Of The Seas.
When the Civil War began, the fleet, starved of money, declared for Parliament and was a decisive factor in the Parliamentarians winning the war.
Parliament's strength lay in the capital and the south of the country where there was the highest concentration of major sea ports: London, Portsmouth, Southampton, Bristol etc. …