The reciprocal pronoun ‘each other’

each other

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One of the many corners of Chinuk Wawa grammar that’s been neglected…

How to say ‘each other’.

In more formal linguistics terminology, I’m talking about the Reciprocal Object pronoun.

That’s kʰánumákwst, which literally means ‘together’. That is, that’s the original sense of the word, and the one that virtually all dictionaries will tell you.

The 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary does the best job with this word of any reference that’s been published so far. They do include the meaning ‘each other’. (They only describe this word as an adverb, though…

As I work through the 1902 “Chinook Book of Devotions” from British Columbia, I find quite a number of examples that we can better label as a Reciprocal pronoun rather than as:

  • an adverb < (kanawi) kanamokst > ‘together’ (which tends to have a different, earlier position in the clause)
  • or a preposition < kanamokst > ‘(together) with’ (which obviously has a very particular position of its own, right before a noun)

(From here on in, I’ll use the spellings found in the Chinuk Pipa alphabet of the 1902 book.)

Before I show several examples, I’ll note that perhaps the most frequent construction with Reciprocal kanamokst is as the Object of wawa ‘to talk; to say (to)’; you’ll see this below. Maybe the wawa usage was the original pattern that the Reciprocal was generalized from?

Wawa indeed normally makes the person being spoken to (the addressee) be a Direct Object, a seeming peculiarity that quite a few Jargon learners have expressed surprise at, but which actually parallels English (‘I told her…).

Because of this fact, it’s actually kind of rare for speakers of Chinook to say e.g. naika wawa kopa iaka ‘I told/said to her…’) The thing that’s being said functioning as the Indirect Object.

Thus wawa is a “ditransitive” verb, just like other verbs of literal or conceptual transfer, such as patlach ‘give’.

Anyhow, here is a selection of examples of Reciprocal kanamokst:

Msaika na tlus mitlait kanamokst? Ilo saliks kanamokst?
‘Do you folks live at peace with each other? Not fighting (with) each other?’
— page 5

Iaka wiht tiki pus msaika mitlait iht tomtom kanamokst, pus kanamokst msaika tiki ST… –
‘He also wants for you folks to live in agreement with each other, so that together you (can) love God…’
– page 8

Ankati pus tlus Mari iaka marii kanamokst Shosif, wik klaska chako kanamokst, pi tlus Mari mitlait tanas kopa iaka: ST Sint Ispri mamuk pus kakwa.
‘Long ago, when good Mary was married to (i.e. with) Joseph, they didn’t come together with each other [is this a Reciprocal use?], but good Mary had a child from him: God the Holy Spirit made that it was so.’
— page 16

Klaska wawa kanamokst Tlus nsaika klatwa kopa ukuk musmus haws…
‘They spoke to each other: “Let’s go to that stable…” ‘
— page 20

Ankati, ukuk tlus tilikom klaska tlus nanich klaska shīp wik saia kopa Bitliim, klaska wawa kanamokst:  = Tlus nsaika kuli kopa Bitliim…
‘Long ago, those good people taking care of their sheep not far from Bethlehem said to each other: “Let’s travel to Bethlehem…” ‘
— page 30

Tlus msaika kanawi iht tomtom kanamokst, kikuli tomtom kanamokst, wik iskom sahali tomtom.
‘You folks should all be of one mind with each other, humble towards each other, not putting on airs.’
— page 51

= Tilikom, wik naika kapshwala maika chikmin: wik na nsaika mamuk tomtom kanamokst pus naika piii maika iht tala iht son?
‘ “Friend, I’m not stealing your money: didn’t we agree with each other that I’d pay you a dollar a day?” ‘
— page 64

Would you agree that each underlined kanamokst above is not an adverb ‘together’ nor a preposition ‘with’?

What do you think?