An homage to Star Wars :)

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May the 4th be with you… (image credit: Wikipedia)

Why is it okay Chinuk Wawa when you say hayas(h)-ánqati ‘very long ago’…

…but not when you attempt the equivalent intensified time adverbs, *hayas(h)-álta (for *’right now’ I guess) and *hayas(h)-áłqi (for *’far in the future’)?

In principle, my belief is that all adverbs ought to be able to take the same inflectional affixes. Why in heck would there be any exceptions, I marvel?

I think there are multiple reasons why these “tense” words don’t behave alike, when combining with the early creolized Intensifier prefix hayas(h)-.

Reason 1.

Alone of these 3 words, the (distant-)past time marker ánqati can also be freely used as an adjective modifying nouns. I sense this association to be a clue that ánqati has felt like a more “time-stable”, settled concept to speakers (as nouns are), and thus less open to possible change. This leads us to:

Reason 2.

Could the facts we’re examining have anything to do with the root word ánqati (distant past) being “realis” — linguist talk for something that’s already a settled fact — vs. álta & áłqi‘s more “irrealis” nature? Casting this idea in other terms, I think it makes sense that you can characterize a situation as ‘definitely very long ago ~ definitely far in the past’. By contrast, if we see claims about ‘now’ & ‘the future’ as more tentative, then it’s not so easy to imagine describing a situation as ‘very maybe occurring’.

Reason 3.

Semantics: it’s actually hard for me to imagine what the translations of *hayas(h)-álta and *hayas(h)-áłqi would be. How can a time be ‘very-now’ or ‘very-future’ in the first place?

Dear English-speaking readers, don’t be fooled by your language’s ability to call fashions & stuff ‘very now’ or ‘very future’! Those are not time expressions! They’re irrelevant here!

Have I explained a darn thing here? 🙂

[Editing to add, thanks to a conversation in the Facebook Chinook Jargon group — by corollary, it’s also grammatically fine to inflect ‘long ago’ for the Diminutive: tənəs-ánqati is normal for ‘a little while ago’.]

What do you think?