To Dive, Sink and the mystery suffix -m

So the previous post was about the Hanis and Milluk verb tk’wil– to dive, sink and dilm-to be sunk in the water. In Jim Buchanan’s “Nephew Story” aka “The Girl and the Sea Serpent” the verb tk’wil-appears two more times – and this time with a bonus mystery suffix, –m!! So on to the examples. The first appearance in the story is near the beginning in the ninth line:

hînī g•īkwa tEk•élîmxEm lau hînī he mîlat lE gwēîs

there a.little dive.?.PROG DEM there HAB ART girl

Frachtenberg translates this as “The young woman was swimming where there was a somewhat deep place”. The latter half of the sentence – lau hînī he mîlat lE gwēîs meaning ‘there the girl swam’ is pretty straightforward.

It is the first half which is interpreted as describing the depth of the water where she swam that gets interesting. hînī=there and g•īkwa=a little, but tEk•élîmxEm isn’t directly about depth. At the root we have tEk•él=tk’wil, to dive or to sink. Then the unidentified m, then xEm=xom=a progressive or imperfective. In Frachtenberg’s grammar he said this suffix “expresses the idea to bein a position, to be in a condition, to be in the act of” and was usually affixed to ‘verbs of motion or intransitive verbs’.

So literally “There a little it was sinking/diving” as a metaphorical description for depth. Is it possible that the -m here is a nominal suffix? There is a little used one, -Em (-om) that he described as “…‘ noun of location’, affixed to adverbs only and is usually preceded byadverbial suffix ch. “It may best be rendered by the part of, the side of”. Ho yixewox hloxachom=of the house the inside part.” I don’t know if this is the answer, but to my mind it makes some sense.

The other appearance is at the end of the story. The sea serpent has told the girl who essentially raised him that he will live in the sea now, after gifting her family with some whales, then he swims away over the bar of the bay and dives. The sentence is:

L!ēitc qáimîsetc, hînī tEk•élîmîtsqEm

to.go.out bar.LOC there dive.?.REFL

It went out over/thru the bar, there it sunk itself (into the water).

Frachtenberg translated as “it went out of the bar and let itself down into the water”. In his grammar, when the suffix xom/qom follows the transitive ts (altho’ the transitive markers use has broadened, especially that of -t, to sometimes being a general verbal marker rather than explicitly transitive) it has, as he puts it ‘a reflexive character’. So here the serpent ‘caused itself to dive’ or ‘sunk itself’. It isn’t a construction that occurs on nouns -but then neither does the -xom suffix – so I am not sure what the mystery -m is doing in this construction.

From here on out I need to try to collect any other examples I run across of ‘mystery m’s’. Just in case.

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About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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