What’s the connection? Love, truth, and war dances

So I’ve been through the major sources of Hanis vocabulary to build a dictionary – Frachtenberg’s book Coos Texts, Melville Jacobs’ notebooks, Harrington’s notes.  Combed through older sources like St Clair and Bissell.  I’ve listened carefully to Morris Swadesh’s recording with Martha Harney Johnson from 1953, and Jane Sokolow’s word list from the 60s when she worked with Martha.

There aren’t many other sources to go through.  Now, however, I have gotten a hold of some of Frachtenberg’s notes from his work with Hanis speakers Tom Hollis and Jim Buchanan.  There are a few more words and phrases in this source that did not make it into his published book.  One I found are phrases for ‘true’.  One is xtleyench luuwii (or xtleyench luughii) which literally means “straight good”.  But he also gave a verb for true – suuliiwat – without any other explanation.  The word looks like a verb.  It’s either –iiwat, an iterative (meaning, doing something for a long time, continually) or the general verbal suffix -t.

The word suuliiwat looked familiar.  I checked and it turned up as a word Annie Miner Peterson had used to mean ‘love’:

ma’noxqan lau nosuu’liiwat

ma    noxqan lau             no-suu’liiwat

But  I                that.one  I-love.him

Then there is the word suu’lawas, the long-life-dance, preparing-for-war-dance.  This dance was done to prepare men to go into war, and to see who would live a long life.  If one made a mistake in this dance, it indicated he would have a shortened life.  The word is made up of the root suu’l-, a verb root that from the above examples means ‘to be true’ and/or ‘to love’, and –awas a suffix to change a verb into a noun.

So, according to Frachtenberg  suuliiwat means ‘to be true’; Annie Miner Peterson defined it for Jacobs as ‘to love’; and it turns up as the root of a preparing-for-war-dance.  I can see the connections – love as in being true to another person, to have a true heart.  Seeking and finding truth in preparing for battle.

The more I dig through the word lists and stories, the more interesting connections between words I find.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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