Adding to the Chinookan etymology of p’ə́q


(Image source: Amazon)

In these pages, previously…

…I’ve written about probable alternations between “M” sounds and “P” (or even “B”) sounds in the lower Columbia River region.

  • A well-known example is “Multnomah”, the name of a tribe and its locality not far from modern Portland, Oregon. Historically, the name was sometimes documented as “Multnobah” in local Chinookan people’s pronunciation.
  • Also I’ve written about how Grand Ronde Chinuk Wawa pʰík’w ‘back (of body)’ is likely from the same Chinookan source as older CW < e[-]meek > ‘back’, as well as having a Salish etymology.
  • I’ve also noted that Quinault miy[-]u ‘bee’ may be a loan from English.

I believe we have at least one more example where “M” and “P” alternate: the etymology of Jargon p’ə́q ‘hit’.

The 2012 Grand Ronde dictionary finds an excellent source in Lower Chinookan that I’m not arguing with: the Kathlamet particle p’aq ‘slap’.

I have details to add to that, though. Also in Lower Chinookan, we find “M” versions that bolster the preceding etymology:

  • Shoalwater-Clatsop: Franz Boas 1910:600 -maʔ ‘act of hitting ( = to hit)’ implies an underlying -maq by regular sound changes
  • Kathlamet: -maq

Notably, Upper Chinookan languages appear to have a rather different verb root for ‘hit’:

It’s not unimaginable that these two forms are related to -maq; for a linguist it’s not hard to see that they might be historically from /im(a)q/.

But the point today is, we’re able to find even more evidence of the Lower Chinookan source of CW p’əq, because we know a fair amount about Lower Chinookan phonological rules.

How does that strike you?