CW keeps ‘wanting’ to ‘try’ ‘to do it in order to’

From earliest times, the “Jargon” has a track record of trying.


That is, Chinuk Wawa has been constantly evolving ways to express the grammatical concept of ‘trying’ to do an action. 

(I called this the ‘conative’ form in my dissertation on Kamloops Chinuk Wawa. Call it what you like!)

Here’s a very short survey for you, with “X” symbolizing the main verb that’s modified by these ‘try’ constructions: 

  • CW-wide (all dialects) from early times through now,
    • tiki (mamuk) X, literally ‘want (to do’), has been a way to express ‘try’j, as has the related structure: 
    • (mamuk X) … tiki Y, literally ‘(do X) … wanting Y’; we’ll refer back to these in a moment.
  • British Columbia (northern) CW has trai (pos) X from at least the 1890s, i.e. one of its many new English loans, literally ‘try (in order to)’.
  • Quite recently, during the language revitalization era of the last few decades, Grand Ronde (southern) CW has developed the clever múnk-pus X, where munk is the GR pronunciation of mamuk. This is perhaps in part an echo of the first bullet in this list, meaning literally ‘do (in order to)’. It’s very frequent in current spoken CW, but is new enough that it’s not in the 2012 edition of the Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary. 

Of course there are strategies you can use to make any of the mamuk / munk expressions mean ‘try’ as clearly as possible. For instance, you can say things like BC naika tiki tl’ap tala, pi weik-kata ‘I wanted/tried to earn money, but couldn’t’.

Similarly, among Grand Ronde speakers I sometimes hear a munk-pus X expression in a higher intonation and louder than the surrounding discourse, optionally followed by bət Y ‘but Y happened’.

Language is constantly changing, and today’s little survey is an example of that.

What do you think?