Bugs ‘n berries – more fun with words

Often I only find connections between words when I sort by the Hanis words, rather than English.

It happened to jump out at me that the word for ‘huckleberry stink bug’, pasasa, looks like it is related to the word for the blue-ish black huckleberry, pasasiya’wa.  The ‘stink bug’ is probably Banasa dimiata – I’ve seen them over the years, sometimes they fall into berry buckets (tho’ not necessarily huckleberry buckets – I see them a lot when picking blackberries).  If crushed, they stink up the bucket.

pasasiya’wa is a very odd word.  First, it is not the usual word for black hucklberry in Hanis.  That would be qaxas.  Pasasiya’wa specifically describes those bushes that produce berries with a blue hue, rather than the usual shiny black.  Also, one would expect the bug rather than the berry to have the –iya’wa suffix.  According to Leo Frachtenberg’s grammar of Hanis, the suffix iyawa/awaya/eyewe* is usually added to a verb to make it into a ‘noun of agency’, ie ‘noun do-er’.  For instance, add it to the verb stem tal-, to dance and you get taliyawa, dancer.

But it shows up added to nouns too – nik’in is wood, nik’iniyawa means wood-getter; add it to milaq, arrow, and get milaqawa, arrow-fetcher, arrow-getter.  Given those meanings, I’d expect the berry to be pasasa and the bug to be pasasiyawa, berry-getter or maybe implying berry-stinker.  But no, it is the other way around.  Odd.

*Yes, there is an appearing/disappearing glottal stop = iyawa versus iya’wa.  In part, because Frachtenberg often left out glottal stops that Jacobs and Harrington recorded; also sometimes in long words there is some variation between speakers or even a single speaker talking at different times the glottal stops come and go.  I’ve been thinking for awhile writing about the here-and-gone-again glottal stops in Hanis.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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