How to say to yourself “Don’t kill yourself” in Chinook Jargon?


A very important message: Wik maika mamuk mimlus maika itluil: Please don’t kill yourself.

Don't kill yourself

Much less important is today’s grammar note.  Metaphorically, you can now stop knocking yourself out trying to express reflexive verbs in Chinuk Wawa.

When the older reference books like Gill’s dictionary mention the concept at all, they say that all you can do to express “myself” is to say “I/me” — naika.   There’s a lot more to this story, however.

I present to you 3 good ways & 1 bad one.  (Reminds me of a marquee in Seattle in the 70s.)  

Edited to add: There seems to be an animacy effect with reflexives — that is, I have only found reflexives with human animate subjects, and not with inanimates. My sense of Chinook Jargon is that a lot of expressions that have inanimate reflexive subjects (“it X’ed itself”) in other languages get expressed in CJ with chaku-X (“become X’ed”).


FIRST WAY: “self” is expressed with itluil (“body; flesh”).  This is used with verbs of physical action, and itluil is usually the direct object (I didn’t quickly find any indirect-object “to yourself” uses while I was putting this post together):

<4.> Taii kopa skukum haws tomtom kanawi
The boss of the prison thought that every-

klaksta k’aw kopa skukum haws klaska klatwa klahani
one who had been tied up in the jail was going to escape 

pi iaka tiki mamuk mimlus iaka itluil. Sin Pol
and he wanted to kill himself.  Saint Paul 

wawa kopa iaka: “Wik maika mamuk mimlus maika itluil:
told him: “Don’t kill yourself

kanawi nsaika mitlait iakwa; ilo klaska klatwa
we’re all staying here: they’re not going 

klahani.” Skukum haws taii alta klatwa ashnu
outside.”  The prison boss then went to kneel 

kopa Sin Pol…
to Saint Paul…

Kamloops Wawa #145 (October 1896), page 220

Klaska komtaks tanki wam iht man kopa Nikola iaka
They know that last summer a man at Nicola 

iskom wiski, pi iaka chako saliks pi iaka
got hold of some whiskey, and he got mad and he 

mamuk pu iaka kluchmin, pi iaka wiht mamuk
shot his woman, and he also 

pu iaka itluil.
shot himself.

— Kamloops Wawa #142 (July 1896), page 155


SECOND WAY: tomtom (“mind; heart”) forms reflexives of “psych” verbs.  Put it another way — to express clearly that you mean someone is thinking thoughts rather than doing an action, add tomtom.  Because you don’t so much tend to “think yourself” as to “think to yourself”, you see this reflexive tomtom used more as an indirect object (“to himself” etc.) than a direct one, like here:

Wiht alta, iht iht kopa msaika iaka wawa
Now too, this and that one among you folks is saying 

kopa iaka tomtom: Klunas wik ShK ukuk nsaika
to himself: Maybe it’s not Jesus, what we’ve 

nanich, klunas iht mimlus iaka sili ukuk.
seen, maybe it’s some dead person’s spirit.

— Kamloops Wawa #141 (June 1896), page 132

…pi kopa iaka tomtom.
…and to himself, 

ShK ipsut wawa: Wik chako Sondi pi naika tlap shim.
Jesus whispered: By Sunday I’ll be shamed.

— Kamloops Wawa #137 (February 1896), page 38


THIRD WAY: use a pronoun — the words that otherwise mean plain old “she”, “you”, “they” and so on:

…pi ukuk lisivik pi liplit
…and those bishops and priests 

lisapotr iskom pus oihoi klaska kopa ilihi…
that the apostles chose to replace themselves on earth…

Kamloops Wawa #141 (June 1896), page 133

O msaika, Shirusalim kluchmin, tlus
“O you women of Jerusalem, 

wik msaika krai kopa naika, tlus msaika krai kopa
don’t cry for me, you should cry for 

msaika pi kopa msaika tanas.
yourselves and for your children.”

Kamloops Wawa #139 (April 1896), page 86


mitlait klahani kopa Kaifas iaka haws kanamokst
was standing outside Caiaphas’s house with 

tanas ayu tilikom. Ukuk tilikom mamuk paia,
several people.  These people made a fire, 

klaska kol kopa pulakli. Pitir klatwa mamuk
they were cold at night.  Peter went to 

wam iaka kopa paia.
warm himself at the fire.

— Kamloops Wawa #138 (March 1896), page 67


FOURTH WAY: Geo. C. Shaw’s 1909 book “The Chinook Jargon and How to Use It” claims on page XIII that you can make reflexives like mika self etc.  All’s I’m sayin’ is, I can’t produce a documented example of this expression.