Colorful idioms

In Leanne Hinton’s book about California Indian languages, Flutes of Fire, she mentions that in Pomo languages there are numerous instrumental affixes that can be added to verbs and add interesting meanings.  One expression is to say “slap with the mouth” to say shout.  A pretty effective idiom for shouting, I’d say.

Hanis has many words for ‘to talk, to speak’.  For the most part they are straight forward verbs:  il– to tell, to say; tle– or tla- for to speak, k’el– to holler, ghala– is many people talk.  And so on.  But occasionally the phrase kxa ye’es turns up glossed in Frachtenberg’s Coos Texts as ‘talk’.  For example:

tsuu hi’nii kxaye’es = Now then there he spoke (Frachtenberg Coos Texts 24.19).

ye’es means mouth.  So what is the kxa part?  Well, even though the record of Hanis is incomplete (currently around 2600 words total) there is a verb stem kx– which means to strike against, to bump against.  That might be the verb paired here with ye’es  – so literally meaning something like to bump lips, to strike with the mouth.  As colorful an expression as one could find in Pomoan languages.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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