Kah, kahkah, kahkah kah

Thus quoth the Raven: Ilo kah son wiht.



(Image credit: FurAffinity.net)

Disclaimer: It’s not totally intentional that I keep writing things you can relate to Hallowe’en. But this is America, and I know people are going to hear ravens while they read today’s article…Besides, kahkah is also an old spelling of a Chinuk Wawa word meaning…guess what kind of bird…

Kah (Grand Ronde spelling qʰá(x̣)) means fundamentally ‘where’. But it’s a word with a bunch of nuances that you may not have had explained to you. At least one of these is an idiom of the Kamloops world, and because very few of us can read Chinuk pipa, I bet it’s new to you.

The pages of Kamloops Wawa #202 (September 1902) demonstrate the many uses of kah and kahkah, sometimes together, that you can put to advantage in expressing yourself.


Your basic use: ‘where?’

= Pi kah iaka mitlait?
but where he is.located
“But where is he?”

Slightly extended uses: ‘somewhere…’, and ‘when’ as a relative-clause introducer:

…mamuk ukuk midsin kanamokst tlus makmak kopa mais; mash [NULL] kah pus klaska 
…put this medicine with good food for mice; put [it] where for them
…place this medicine together with some good food for mice; put [it] somewhere for them

tlap [NULL]…
to.find [it]…
to find [IT]…

…kanawi Sondi pi kro kopa kah iaka kopit iht iiir.
…every week and arrive at where it is.finished one year
…every week until when a year is finished.

Advanced Kamloops Chinuk Wawa:

Ilihi ayu shik, ayu klatwa kopa tanas ayu kah ilihi.
earth much shake, much go in little many where place
The earth was shaking [and] moving in several locales (‘where places’).

…kah son iaka tiki nsaika mimlus, nsaika mimlus, wik kata pus ilo…
…where day he want us to.die, we die, no how for not…
whichever day he wants us to die, we die, no avoiding it…



Doubling kah is a formation that goes way back to fairly early days on the lower Columbia River, I infer from its occurrence in both Grand Ronde and Kamloops. Like other whole-word reduplications in the Jargon, it gives a distributive sense. Easier to give examples than blab on:

Wiht pus msaika tlap mĭnt, ukuk tlus hom tipso iaka nim mĭnt, pi msaika mamuk mitlait [NULL]
also if you.folks get mint, that good smell plant its name mint, and you.folks make be.located [it]
Also if you folks get some mint, the nice-smelling plant called mint, and you put [it] here and there

kah kah kopa msaika haws…
where where in you.folks’ houses…
in your houses…

Mosis nanich kahkah, pi ilo klaksta mitlait…
Moses looked wherewhere, but not anybody was.there…
Moses looked all around, but nobody was there…


Ace level: use kah together with kahkah! Style points for also using iht iht 🙂 (Literally ‘one one’.)

Wiht pus mamuk kopit rats kopa msaika haws: iskom iht iht korks, ukuk korks mamuk ihpui botls;
also to make stop rats in you.folks’ houses: take one one corks, those corks make shut bottles;
Also to put a stop to rats in you folks’ houses: take several corks, the corks that stop up bottles;

mamuk kyut klaska drit kakwa pipa pi mamuk kuk [NULL] kanamokst ayu gris, pi mash [NULL]
make cut them just like paper and make cook [them] with much grease, and put [them] 
cut them [to be] just like paper and cook [them] with a lot of grease, then put [them]

kahkah kah ukuk rats klaska kuli.
all.around where those rats they run.
all around where the rats run.

Now you know!