Time nouns, with and without prepositions

This little grammar note applies more to BC / “northern dialect” Jargon than to southern dialect / Grand Ronde talk…

in girum

A neat Latin palindrome about the night (image credit: IMDb)

…So in a sense, it gives you a diagnostic to evaluate what region a sample of Chinuk Wawa comes from.

I’m going to give you 2 sentences from Kamloops Wawa, calling attention to the underlined parts: 


Tilikum tlaska k’wash kopa okok peltin hwait-man pi tlaska k’wash 
‘The people are afraid of these immoral Whites and they’re afraid’ 

pos tlaska chako kopa Sawaash hous kopa polakli
‘that they’ll come to Indian houses in the dark.’

– from page 144 of Kamloops Wawa #28[b], June 5, 1892


Tenas-hayoo tilikum kopa Kamloops weik-kata mash
‘Several people at Kamloops are unable to leave’

wiski pi tlaska chako kakwa-pos kreisi pos iskum wiski; polakli heilo
‘whiskey and they get seemingly crazy to get whiskey; at night they don’t’ 

tlaska slip, tlaska kooli kanawei-kah pos iskum wiski pi pos 
‘sleep, they wander all over to get whiskey and to’ 

mukmuk wiski.
‘drink whiskey.’

– from page 164 of Kamloops Wawa #134, November 1895

Do you see the difference there?

Notice the contrast between kopa polakli ‘in the dark’ here and polakli ‘at night’ in the next article.

To make a time adverb out of a noun (such as polakli ‘night’), you don’t have to add a preposition; this applies especially to units of time smaller than one whole day. 

CW prepositions instead have a tendency to carry a sense of a physical location. This distinction is brought out really well by the two examples above, with respect to the noun < polakli >, I feel, with < kopa polakli > connoting ‘the dark’ as a situation that people move around in, and not necessarily signifying ‘night’. 

In the pages of Kamloops Wawa, you’ll see endless examples of this. < Sitkom son > ‘midday, noon’ also means ‘at noon’, for example.

It’s not a completely ironbound rule, but a good one to know about.

What do you think?