Native metaphor: FAST ~ ABILITY

quik can.jpg

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qʰáta máyka tə́mtəm? Observe…

Chinuk Wawa áyáq ( = a root; 2 accent marks = freely variable stress)

  • ‘fast’
  • at Grand Ronde (possibly a particle): ‘can, able to’

Lower Chinookan (Franz Boas’s “Sketch” sees the following as adverbs ( 1910:634))

  • aiʹaq ‘quickly’
  • aiʹaq ‘can’

Upper Chehalis Salish

  • √x̣áxʷ ‘be fast’
  • √x̣áxʷ-s (-s ‘Subjunctive’, so literally, ‘might be fast’) ‘can; able to’

Cowlitz Salish

  • √ƛ̓ə́x̣- ‘fast, quick, soon’
  • √ƛ̓ə́x̣-ɬ (-ɬ ‘Intransitive Perfective’) ‘can’

Quinault Salish

  • √lá•l (I think the second “L” is a reduplication from the first one) ‘fast’
  • la- ‘can; able to’

Neighboring languages:

Quileute Chimakuan: ‘can, able’ is expressed instead with ‘know how to’, according to Woodruff and Powell’s dictionary.

Ichishkíin (Yakama) Sahaptian: referring to Beavert & Hargus’s dictionary and Jansen’s dissertation grammar sketch, I find no obvious connection between ‘quick’ and ‘can’.

Summarizing so far, I’m seeing a Native metaphor that’s “areal” — shared among unrelated languages throughout a geographical region.

That region is one that we here have noticed many times before, where structures are held in common along the lower Columbia River between Chinookan, Salish, and the pidgin-creole Chinuk Wawa.

(Creole CW is located at Grand Ronde across the river. But the evidence suggests an old metaphor from the north bank.)

Other languages of SW Washington/lower Columbia River: I’d love to hear whether they use the QUICK ~ ABLE metaphor. We don’t have much information on the Dene (Athabaskan) languages there, but maybe K’alapuyan and Molala experts can say something.

qʰáta máyka tə́mtəm?