Horatio Hale (May 3, 1817 - December 28, 1896), American ethnologist, was born in Newport, New Hampshire.
He was the son of David Hale, a lawyer, and of Sarah Josepha Hale (1790-1879), a popular poet, who, besides editing Godey's Lady's Magazine for many years and publishing some ephemeral books, is supposed to have written the verses "Mary had a little lamb," and to have been the first to suggest the national observance of Thanksgiving Day.
Hale graduated in 1837 from Harvard University, and he served as the philologist for the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842, which was led by Lt. Charles Wilkes. Of the reports of that expedition Hale prepared the sixth volume, Ethnography and Philology (1846), which is said to have laid the foundations of the ethnography of Polynesia. He was admitted to the Chicago bar in 1855, and in the following year moved to Clinton, Ontario, Canada, where he practiced his profession, and where he died in 1896.
He made many valuable contributions to the science of ethnology, attracting attention particularly by his theory of the origin of the diversities of human languages and dialects--a theory suggested by his study of child-languages, or the languages invented by little children. He also emphasized the importance of languages as tests of mental capacity and as criteria for the classification of human groups. He was, moreover, the first to discover that the Tutelos of Virginia belonged to the Siouan family, and to identify the Cherokee as a member of the Iroquoian family of speech.
Besides writing numerous magazine articles, he read a number of valuable papers before learned societies. These include:
- Indian Migrations as Evidenced by Language (1882)
- The Origin of Languages and the Antiquity of Speaking Man (1886)
- The Development of Language (1888)
- Language as a Test of Mental Capacity: Being an Attempt to Demonstrate the True Basis of Anthropology (1891)
He also edited for Brinton's Library of Aboriginal Literature, the Iroquois Book of Rites (1883).
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