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’:
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.