A Chinook Jargon adverb-class marker?

final stress

(Image credit: TheOdyssey.com)

Here’s a little sketch of an idea about Chinuk Wawa:

There’s word-final stress on these 2-syllable adverbs in the Grand Ronde dictionary (multiple stress marks = more than one possible place to stress the word):

  • háyás(h) ‘loud’, háyú ‘much’ ≠ tunús (~tənás?) ‘little ‘ (and ‘quiet’?)
  • kʰapá, yáwá ‘there’ ≠ yákwá ‘here’
  • łáwá ‘slowly’ ≠ (h)áyáq ‘fast, quickly’
  • sáyá ‘far (away)’ (≠ wik-sáyá ‘near’)
  • kímt’á ‘behind; after’
  • t’łúnás ‘possibly’

I’d thought of final-stressed kʰə́pít ‘finished’, but I really think that’s not an adverb; I analyze it as an adjective-type word (presumably a “stative verb” if you like technical terms).

There’s also dilít~təlít~tirét ‘really; straight’, but these are rare alternatives to the standard 1-syllable pronunciation, drét. (And a one-syllable word is stressed on its last syllable, eh?) 🙂 

Now I’d like to list the counterexamples I’ve found in the 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary — words that you can see as adverbs, that have 2 syllables, but no final stress:

  • álta ‘now’, áłqi ‘in the future’ (+ánqati ‘in the past’)
  • íləp ‘before; in front of’
  • kákwa ‘in this/that way; like this/that’ * (Just yesterday a highly proficient learner told me he’d been slipping into a pronunciation kakwá, fascinatingly parallel to the above pattern!)
  • kʰə́ltəs(h) ‘pointlessly’
  • líli ‘for a long time’
  • máyʔmi ‘downstream’

And adverbs of more than 2 syllables (some have 2-syllable alternate forms) :

  • kíkwəli ‘below; downstream’
  • kwánisim~kwánsəm ‘always’
  • sáx̣ali~sáx̣li ‘above; upstream’

The pattern I keep noticing among all these is, to be more precise, most 2-syllable adverbs, especially those with the vowel “a” in the second syllable, like to stress that syllable.

It’s almost like -á is a marker of the adverb class of words!

(Much as l- at the start of a 2+-syllable Jargon word almost guarantees you’re dealing with a noun.)

Maybe this reflects some linguistic reality in the minds of speakers in previous generations?

All of the words in this pattern except sáyá (ultimately from Nuuchahnulth) and dilít~təlít~tirét (tracing to Canadian French) are from Chinookan languages, for what it’s worth. I’d like to hear audio recordings & carefully look through written texts in Chinookan, just to check whether there’s any tendency to rhetorically stress adverbs this way.

It’s not a productive pattern at this time, though.

And I don’t foresee anyone deciding to engineer Chinuk Wawa by ordering us all to stress every adverb at the end!

PS: To be thorough, I should point out there are a number of further words that you could see as adverbs in certain limited uses that they have, such as when they’re the first word in a compound:

  • t’łəmínxwət-wáwa (literally ‘lie-talk’) ‘to tell lies’ (not in Grand Ronde dialect)
  • sáliks-wáwa (literally ‘angry-talk’) ‘to scold, to “chew out” ‘ (not in Grand Ronde dialect’

But these aren’t “productive” uses — you can’t freely use t’łəmínxwət or sáliks as adverbs, in the variety of sentence positions that adverbs can occupy. (Start, end, and right before the verb.) T’łəmínxwət is primarily a verb, as is sáliks.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?