Roberta Hall, writing in The Coquille Indians: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in 1980 wrote about a hooked stick used to pull down salmonberry stems so pickers could reach the berries. Coquilles remembered it was called a hyme-hyme. She was not sure of the ultimate origin of the word – could have been Milluk or Chinook jargon.

I would say its origin is Milluk as I ran across a nearly identical word in Jane Sokolow’s Hanis wordlist. In August 1965, Jane Sokolow was a linguistics student and she got a list of dozens of words and phrases with the last Hanis Coos speaker Martha Harney Johnson. Sokolow listed the word heimhe’im for ‘salmonberry hook’. They way she wrote it out, it looks like instead of being a two syllable word like hymehyme it would be a 2 ½ syllable or 3 syllable word; hyme-heh-im.

So “hyme hyme” or heimhe’im is a berry picking tool, a stick with a curved end to reach tall berry canes. The word was likely derived from a verb, as in the Coos languages many nouns are made by partiall or whole duplication of verb stems. Some examples in Hanis are xatlxat, axe, from the verb xatl- to chop; and wagon hexhex (‘dragged thing’) is derived from hex- to drag. Unfortunately I can’t find a verb stem to go along with heimhe’im; I am assuming there was one and it just didn’t get recorded. Probably meant something like to reach, to reach up or to pull down.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
This entry was posted in Vocabulary comparisons, vocabulary words and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to hyme-hyme

  1. southcoastweaver@aol.com says:

    Hi Patty, Nan MacDonald here. Need some help identifying a plant and thought you might know.

    Should have checked to see if there were bulbs, but here is a photos and found it in a very remote portion of the Siskiyou National Forest well above any chance of farm or road wash down.

    I think it is Northern Rice Root or Fritillaria camschatcensis

    Quite a bit ethno info regarding this Lily ( if that what it is) Whats your thoughts ? Thanks Nan

  2. shichils says:

    Photo isn’t showing – maybe you cd email it to me at miluk@dslextreme.com? There are a couple of Fritillaria’s that are known to have edible bulbs and are traditional foods.

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