Kunepiam

Ed and Cameron Castillo have lived in Westport less than 4 months.

But they’re discovering a lot about their new town. Thanks to “06880,” for example, they learned the history of their home: the carriage house for The Cockeroft family’s country estate on Stony Point Road, that hidden gem on the west side of the train station.

(The red door that separates their yard from the parking lot makes for a fantastic commute, Ed jokes.)

But one thing stumps them: an engraving just above the door, on the side facing the station.

Kunepiam

“Kunepiam,” it reads — surrounded by what look like Native American pictograms, and perhaps settlers.

Ed’s Google search for “Kunepiam” returned absolutely nothing.

So he’s turning to an even better source: the “06880” crowd.

If you know what the word means — or where the engraving comes from — click “Comments.”

And that traffic jam you see the next time at the station, near Ed and Cameron’s house? That’s the “06880” crowd too, looking even more closely at this mystery.

12 responses to “Kunepiam

  1. Maybe an old word that now translates into BFF?

  2. Of Latin origin…of course…

  3. Carl T. Renfroke

    Close, not American Indian, but a traditional witchcraft term used against what was known as “affliction.” These stones were placed on entries to homes or properties that were known to have previously contained witches or evil spirits. While many of these markers were removed from area homes over time, some still remain at dwellings where it is believed that witches, or the sprits of witches still exist. As in Salem, a large anti-witch movement propagated itself through much of the northeast during the 1600-1700 period. There was likely some structure on the grounds prior to the existing one. I hope this helps.

  4. Carl Volckmann

    Sounds fitting– wasn’t part of the original Stepford Wives movie filmed there?

  5. I will now have to go have a look at this!!

    I think it’s a pictograph probably from late 1800s– so it’s ((not That old))
    I mean as to have been carved BY an Indian…so I think it’s a tribute to the Indian heritage of the area…by the family who built the wall. But, Why?

    Definitely features a lot of American Indian symbols, teepee symbol means temporary housing. A House, (with an inner box??) a man and an Indian (holding hands!) that type of cross on one head can mean “crossing paths…”

    of course, the cross could also be a Christian symbol…Looks like eagle head on the other fella– which is Huge tribal Symbol/the chief, leader

    Anyway, It looks much more like a declaration of Friendship and Peace to me! (Or BFF as Jamie Walsh has suggested)

    A nod from someone to the native Indians who mush have lived right there.

    Can’t wait to see what’s uncovered about this… The Name????

    I really want to SEE it– wow

    Betsy P Kahn

  6. Marcy Fralick

    The lettering looks very modern, as do the pictographs. They’re so straight, as if they were made using a straightedge of some sort, with a very sharp instrument, not crude or rough edged as Native Americans or area inhabitants in the 1600-1800’s might had done. I’m wondering if it was a movie prop for a historical scene in a movie filmed in the area, even a documentary sometime in the last 50 years of so?

  7. Michelle Titlebaum

    Hi Dan. this was actually our home for about 8 years, loved living there. You can pass my email along to the new owners and I would be happy to share any history of the house I have. Best. Michelle Titlebaum

  8. I think it might be an indian word meaning “long water land” Quinnipiac College was named after that word or phrase. I think that because there’s a Tipi in the image it’s more likely that it’s indian. And “long water land” fits. Indian words have wild spelling differences. Quinni-pe-auke is one of the spellings of the phrase but these are American interpretations of the Indian Language to which we assigned our own phonetic interpretation. My two cents!! And I think it’s wildly fascinating that this relic still exists. Imagine the story behind it!!

  9. We started working on this question a few weeks ago when we saw this post. We are happy to report that “kunepiam” is derived from the Algonquin word “koonepeam,” meaning “thou art welcome.”

    Our success in finding this answer was due to the extra effort made by Lucianne Lavin, the Director of Research and Collections at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington Connecticut. She reached out to Carl Masthay, retired medical editor, linguist, and Algonquianist, who, in turn, reached out to Dr. Ives Goddard, a nationally known professional, senior linguist and curator in the Anthropology department at the Smithsonian Institution. He was the linguistic and technical editor for the Handbook of North American Indians, and is a specialist in Algonquian languages.

    Here is Dr. Goddard’s answer:

    “If (considering the picture at 06880, Westport, Conn.) you look up “welcome” in Trumbull’sNatick Dictionary [page 343], you find koonepeam ‘(thou art) welcome’ (cited from Josiah Cotton, with no page [1830]). I type “oo” for Eliot’s digraph (rendered “8” in Goddard & Bragdon: Native Writings in Massachusett, 1988). Some knowledgeable person has slightly respelled this, perhaps someone at the Bureau of American Ethnology that a letter was referred to. The word is a calque* on the English (“you come well”) but perhaps in use in Cotton’s day. ”

    [Ives Goddard, pers. com., 25 March 2015. Carl Masthay’s note: “Natick” is now referred to as “Massachusett.” Morphemes**: k-ooni-pia-m ‘you-well-come-animate.final’.]

    Mr. Masthay suggested that a small plate be installed next to the stone to help “clear up this issue for eternity.”

    Please reach out to us for any follow-up questions or reference questions in general!

    — Susan Luchars, Margie Frelich-Den, and Dennis Barrow, Reference Department, Westport Public Library 203 291 4840, ref@westportlibrary.org

    *The meaning of “calque”: a loan translation, especially one resulting from bilingual interference in which the internal structure of a borrowed word or phrase is maintained but its morphemes are replaced by those of the native language, as German halbinsel for peninsula. (Dictionary.com)

    **The meaning of “morpheme”: any of the minimal grammatical units of a language, each constituting a word or meaningful part of a word, that cannot be divided intosmaller independent grammatical parts, as the, write, or the -ed ofwaited (Dictionary.com)

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