Words for ‘grizzly bear’

Both Hanis and the Siuslaw/Lower Umpqua called grizzly bears swahl.  (Siuslaw/LU and Hanis share a handful of words, so this kind of overlap isn’t unusual)  They did have different words for black bear (shximhl versus t’ii or to’íí respectively).  Black bear in Milluk is pelel.   Milluk for grizzly bear is only recorded once that I have been able to find so far – in Dorsey’s very short list of Lower Coquille Milluk taken down in the 1800s.  Annie Peterson in her work with Melville Jacobs in the 1930s tried to recall the name for grizzly, but it eluded her.  For a story featuring a grizzly bear character she used the nickname ‘pack basket bear’ (k’áwol dot’im pélel).

On Dorsey’s list, Coquelle Solomon called grizzly bear yun-ye-sa.  Which, as it turns out is very close to the Upper Coquille word for grizzly which is yúúnnæ´ssa’.  Neighboring Athabascan languages were very different – sts’íích’allæ’ in the neighboring lower Rogue River languages.  In Smith River/Chetco it’s xwee-tr’ee-sri.  So only in the Upper Coquille Athabascan language is the word for Grizzly similar to the Milluk word.  There is one other word I know of shared between the two languages – the word for skunk cabbage.  Perhaps Upper Coquille borrowed these words from Milluk.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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