So yesterday I mentioned finding a couple of new words in the Jacobs material I had not seen before. I mentioned I found a weird and creepy verb. Part of the ‘new’ material included Annie Peterson’s biography of a Lower Coquille man named Djixwente (which she told in Milluk) and in it was a verb meaning ‘to sneak in and kill’; in his notes Jacobs also jotted down its Hanis equivalent.
The context was when whites snuck up and attacked a Lower Coquille village before dawn. There was a Milluk verb, sdauqwts, that means sneak-in-to-kill (before dawn). In Hanis it is stuukwts, or stuuwakw. You might be wondering why the Coos languages needed such a specific verb (there are other verbs meaning ‘to kill’ such as aiw- to kill several). It is a warfare verb – there are a couple of stories about how when one party wanted to attack a village, the typical method was to sneak up on it at dawn when presumably all were asleep and therefor very vulnerable to attack. This was how the village of Balicha at Gregory Point was destroyed. It is also how a girl’s village was destroyed in “The people who were killed up the bay” (see page 35 of Jacobs’ “Coos Narrative and Ethnologic Texts”).
What struck me as vaguely funny is it is a near homonym for the word ‘to stand up’, stuuq- which is also the source for the word ‘wall’, stuuwaqwis (so wall is literally ‘standing thing’). One could write creepy silly sentences like stuukwts lox stuuwaqwis =the wall snuck up to kill them. stuuwakw lox stuuwaqwis =the walls were sneaking around to kill. Yeah, ok, phrases unlikely to appear in any stories but it is fun to play around with the words.