łxwáp ‘hole’ is only partly explained by Chinookan

salish cliffs hole 1

Salish Cliffs Golf Course, hole #1 (image credit: CoreFourGolf)

Once again a Chinuk Wawa word has pretty much equally good claims to Chinookan and Salish parentage…Today’s post is another one that I should credit to the recently passed Spokane Tribe elder and language warrior Pauline Pascal Flett. A memory someone shared of her figuring out Chief Spokane Garry‘s Salish name as meaning ‘holey blanket’ inspired me.

Chinuk Wawa’s łxwáp ‘hole’ (also ‘anus’) is sensibly explained, in the very fine 2012 CW dictionary of the Confederated Tribes of the Community of Grand Ronde, Oregon, by a Chinookan etymology. In that family of languages there’s an essentially identical word meaning ‘hole; to dig’.

But it should be no surprise at this point — since the “Chinooks” (a Salish name) inhabiting the Columbia River estuary’s north bank area also spoke Lower Chehalis Salish — that we can also explain the word quite well in those terms.

I have in mind the Proto-Salish root *łəx̣ʷ ‘to pass through a hole; escape, run away’. This is in my favorite dictionary of Salish etymologies, the only one in existence: Aert H. Kuipers 2002.

Various modern Salish languages have inflected forms of this root ending in the Inchoative Aspect suffix -Vp. (here means ‘some vowel or other’.) So we find łx̣ʷip, łx̣ʷup, łx̣ʷap, etc.

By the way, Spokane Garry’s Indian name evidently uses this same root!

Taking the comparisons a little further, I suspect we can compare Chinuk Wawa’s łáx̣ ‘to come out’ and łáx̣ani ‘outside’ with everything mentioned above…

What do you think?