One Grand Ronde word, and implications for Jargon adverbs

quahtle iskum

A use of a neat Jargon word that hasn’t been pointed out before…

Baby, < quahʹ-tle iskʹ-um > to me!

I’ve been looking some more at Granville Stuart’s frontier-era Chinook Jargon word list, “Montana As It Is” by Granville Stuart (New York, NY: C.S. Westcott & Co., 1865).

I’ve previously pointed out that Stuart documents pretty much a Grand Ronde style, making it one of the earliest good documents of that creolized dialect.

He gives < quahʹtle > as a verb ‘hold (to)’. One way you can tell it’s a verb is that Stuart carefully labels verbs with the English infinite particle “to”, as seen here. This corresponds to the entry q’wétł in the Grand Ronde Tribes 2012 dictionary.

That 2012 dictionary also notes the same word being used as an adjective ‘tight, secure, snug; stuck’.

End of story? Not so fast!

hold tight

(Image credit: Pinterest)

Stuart 1865 also demonstrates this word’s use as an adverb, in < quahʹ-tle iskʹ-um > ‘hold fast’, i.e. ‘tightly hold’. That would be q’wétł ískam in the 2012 way of spelling, although the phrase isn’t documented there.

It’s not unusual for an adjective to also get used as an adverb in the Jargon — but not all adjectives can be put into use modifying verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. For example, we’ve never found Chinuk Wawa speakers saying something like *…łiʔil yaka wawa (literally ‘black she say’) for something English-language readers don’t bat at an eye at: ‘…she said blackly’.

There are fewer adverbs than adjectives in Jargon, and so we don’t know so much about the use of adverbs in the language. It’s typically an area of grammar that’s neglected by linguists; I think we mistakenly tend to think there’s not much going on there.

That’s why it’s pretty nice to discover a “new” CW adverb.

I think we can start making some useful generalizations that haven’t been put into words before.

Broadly, it seems that in CW’s typical adverb positions (start of sentence; immediately before the verb; end of clause) it broadly allows:

  • single-morpheme (one-word) adverbs
  • that express the physically demonstrable manner in which
  • an action is performed.

So adverbs like skúkum ‘hard; forcefully’, háyú ‘much; a lot’, and ípsut ‘secretly’ are in common use.

CW does not so much seem to like

  • multi-word adverbs
    • (except in certain restricted positions like the end of the clause; )
    • (my tentative sense is that multi-worders such as kakwa tənás ‘like a child’ tend to instead be put as “predicative” adjectives in a separate clause — ‘he’s like a child; he pouts’ instead of ‘he pouts like a child’),
  • nor adverbs that express the interior feelings of the verb’s subject, like English ‘grudgingly’,
  • nor ones to modify a verb denoting a state of being, like ‘exist; have; be sad’. 

There’s definitely more to be analyzed and described about adverbs in Chinuk Wawa. Expect this to continue being part of my ongoing research.

So watch this space…attentively!

What have you learned?