Kata meaning “messed up” outside of Grand Ronde creole

One use of qʰáta, literally ‘how’, that’s always seemed to me an idiom characteristic of the Grand Ronde (Oregon) creole variety of Chinuk Wawa is as a predicative adjective (or stative verb, it doesn’t matter in this discussion) meaning “messed up, problematic, have something wrong with yourself”.

messed up

A very short example from the GR dictionary is “qʰáta yáx̣ka?” = “What’s the matter with her?”

But I’ve come to notice this word, in the typical spelling kata, being used with that same sense up north, in the Kamloops (BC) pidgin variety. Here is one example, with plenty of context for you to evaluate my understanding of  kata:

Kamloops Wawa issue #97, 24 September 1893, page 155:

Klaska mamuk ayu drai stik kanamokst. Klaska mash kopa
ukuk stik ayu lagom ayu gris: klaska mamuk mitlait
sahali kanawi ukuk Katolik, pi alta klaska mash
paia kopa ukuk stik. Shako drit aias ukuk paia;
ukuk Katolik ipsut kopa paia klaska tlus shanti,
lili pi shako ilo kanawi ukuk stik, pi alta klaska
nanish kanawi ukuk Katolik klaska tlus mit.hwit,
wik kata klaska, wik paia klaska iktas.

“They piled up a lot of dry wood. They threw onto
this wood a lot of pitch, a lot of oil: they put
on top of all this the Catholics [ = Christians], and then they set
fire to this wood. The fire got really big:
those Catholics covered with fire kept singing beautifully,
for a long time until all that wood burned to nothing, and then
it could be seen that all of those Catholics were standing [and] all right,
nothing the matter with them, their clothing unburned.”

Differences remain between the dialects, let’s be clear about that. Expressions of messed-up-ness with qʰáta are more frequent at Grand Ronde. And in the creole, not real surprising, they’re much more grammatically elaborated-upon; so you find inflected forms like mamuk-qʰáta “mess with, foul up, do harm to” that I’ve not (yet anyway) discovered up north.

But it’s been fascinating over the years to discover quite a number of sophisticated grammatical features at Kamloops that once seemed the sole province of the creole. In fact, my dissertation makes the case that the Kamloops pidgin was in some ways the more grammatically complex variety of Jargon…a subject for another post.

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