More on ‘verbing weirds the language’

So, dear readers, I’ve mentioned before that ‘verbing weirds the language’.  That Hanis can take words that usually appear as just one part of speech (like a noun) and with the addition of an affix or two turn it into some other part of speech (like a verb).  I’ve found examples before such as pol, which means ‘shell’ (of an egg or shellfish) and with the addition of verbal -t create polt, to shell an egg.

I’ve just found another interesting example in St Clair’s work with Jim Buchanan.  The rhizomes of bracken fern were a staple food for most Indians of western Oregon, and in Hanis they have their own name, hlk’wa*.  The fern growing above ground – and also can refer to ferns in general – is hlk’watimhl. Clearly the two words have the same root of hlk’w-, although what the –timhl is on ‘fern’ I have been unable to crack (made all the more interesting by the fact that there are a few other plant words that end in –mhl or –mohl in Hanis and Milluk).  And, surprise surprise, if one adds verbal suffixes to hlk’w- it becomes a verb meaning ‘to gather fern rhizomes’:

For example:

ihl hlkwita = they went after fern rhizomes.  (ihl=they hlk’w-fern rhizome, -t=verbal/transitive, -a=applicative).

(Applicative here means it indicates the gatherers were gathering more than one rhizome).

kwis hlk’wita = Let’s us two gather fern rhizomes! (kwis=let’s us two)

ihl hlk’uwaq=they gather fern rhizomes (ihl=they; hlk’w=fern rhizomes; -waq=mystery suffix)

And it isn’t as though one has to use this construction to talk about fern rhizome gathering.  There is the verb yakw-‘to gather, to pick something’:

hlk’wa ux yakwiiwat=they (2) were gathering fern rhizomes (hlk’wa=fern rhizomes; ux=they, 2 people; yakw=to gather; -iiwat-iterative)

So Hanis was very creative and playful with the language to take the word for bracken fern rhizome, hlk’wa, and turn it into hlk’wita, gathering many fern rhizomes.

*Apparently the word for fern rhizome is the same in Milluk=hlk’wa or hlq’wa.  In Siuslaw/Umpqua the word is yauxa.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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