Like likes: 2 grammaticalizations from the same word

like like

(Image credit: Legends of Localization)

Today I’m sketching the start of an idea to be fleshed out further…

One previously not-discussed case of Chinuk Wawa “grammaticalization” (the development of a word away from its literal sense into a more abstract usage), is actually a “twofer”.

The verb/preposition kákwa ‘(be) thus; (be) like; (be) as; (be) in this/that way’ is presumably among the very earliest members of the Jargon lexicon.

The reason we can say that is, its etymology seems to trace back to the preceding pidgin Nuučaan’uł from the Vancouver Island, BC area called “Nootka Jargon”, aside from closely resembling certain Lower Chinookan words.

(See the Grand Ronde Tribes 2012 dictionary of Chinuk Wawa for details on that story.)

The longer a word is in use in a language, the greater the chance of its undergoing grammaticalization.

From some of the first solid documentation of CW (1850s-ish early creolized lower Columbia River style), this particular word shows up in numerous expressions of

Form 1:     kăkŭ-ˈ√N/ kăkwă-ˈ√N

There I’m showing that the vowels of kákwa lost any stress, and the word got shortened [just as it did when combining with pus ‘if’ to make the specialized expression kaku-pus ‘seems like; looks like; sounds like’], while the bare “head” noun root N of the phrase carries all of the stress. And I definitely mean to specify nouns here: read the kaku-kʰə́ltəs example below for more on this.

Examples of this structure:

  • < kahkwa pelton > ‘like a fool’ — Gibbs 1863
    literally ‘like fool/insane person’
  • < kahkwa kamooks > ‘like a dog; beastly’ — Gibbs
    lit. ‘like dog’
  • kakwa-t’álapas ‘like Coyote; that is, devious and deceptive’ — Grand Ronde; evidently an established idiom, since we know it from multiple speakers
    lit. ‘like-coyote’
  • kaku-bástən ‘like or in the manner of Whites’ — Grand Ronde, and also an established expression
    lit. ‘like-White person’
  • kaku-tsíltsil ‘ “button-like”, a root dug like camas for food; identified as Brodiaea, a lily with flattened bulbs resembling buttons’ [Harvest lily] — Grand Ronde, apparently an early reservation-era term
    lit. ‘like-button’
  • kaku-kʰə́ltəs ‘worthless, useless’ — Grand Ronde; notably, this is an example of a special trait of GR CW grammar, whereby a few of the most frequent adjectives can “convert” into nouns, here ‘worthless one’ … other examples being háyásh ‘big one’ and tunús-tunus ‘little ones’
    lit. ‘like-worthless one’

Definitely later, and maybe under English-language influence (‘X-wise’, ‘X-like’, ‘X-ish’), came the reverse linear arrangement,

Form 2:    ˈX-kăkŭ / ˈX-kăkwă

Here I write for ‘any stem‘ — it can be a noun, an adjective, a quantifier — any “stative” expression of quality or identity. Just note that “stem” is a larger unit than the simple roots found above. So, unlike the situation with Form #1, X can instead be a reduplicated form or a complex phrase, for instance.

Examples of this second pattern are all, as far as I know, from the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation community and from people born circa 1900 or later, such as these:

  • skín-kaku ‘naked’ (from an elder who worked with Henry Zenk in the 1970s-80s)
    literally ‘skin-like’
  • íxt-ixt-kakwa ‘matching; one-to-one’ (isomorphic) (a recent coinage)
    lit. ‘one-one-like’; íxt-ixt means ‘next to each other; sometimes’
  • lúxlux-kakwa ‘slippery’ (a recent coinage)
    lit. slippery-like
  • háyásh-háyú-kakwa ‘complex’ (a recent coinage)
    lit. big-many-like (háyásh-háyú means ‘a great many’)
  • q’wétł-kakwa ‘inseparable, snug, fused’
    lit. ‘tight-like’

I hope to puzzle out all the differences between Forms 1 & 2. They definitely “feel” different to me, conveying distinct semantic effects.

Putting things in a vague and impressionistic way, Form 1 strikes me as comparable with how modern informal English freely makes new adjectives with “-ish”. I think it’s used in CW only as what English grammar would traditionally call a “predicative adjective” — in CW a stative verb — describing animate or inanimate referents.

Form 2 feels to me more like an adverb, depicting the speaker’s impression of a given situation. Possibly it too is a stative-verb construction, though it seems to be confined to non-human referents, and maybe only to describing situations, which would tilt us to the Adverb analysis.

Here’s a rare example from the 2012 Grand Ronde dictionary that may contain both grammaticalizations in a single stem:

łas ískam łaska úptsax̣, łaska munk-kaku-k’úp-k’up-kaku
‘They got their knives, they did it like all cut-up-like (they made quantities of shavings).’

There will be more to say as I investigate these two novel grammar innovations…

What do you think?