A reason for “klaksta-man”

A short note about the northern (BC) dialect.

joe average

Art by Canada’s Joe Average (image credit: Adobe Stock)

There’s a fairly common northern usage, written as < klaksta man > in BC’s Chinook Peipa writing system, that means ‘some person; whichever person; who?’.

In Grand Ronde spelling, I’d put this as łáksta-mán, literally ‘who-man’.

Typically in the Jargon, you can’t use ‘who’ as a descriptor of another word. So what gives?

Well, for one thing, łáksta-mán is structurally analogous to all dialects’ widespread usage íkta-(Noun), literally ‘what-(Noun)’, that means ‘some/any kind of (Noun); whichever (Noun). So it’s just an expansion of an existing pattern. 

Plus, specific to northern usage, adding -mán helpfully disambiguates between the otherwise often confused (in documented BC Jargon) pronouns łáksta ‘who’ and łáska ‘they’.

That is, in all dialects, including BC before łáksta-mán came up around 1890, you’d have said simply łáksta for ‘someone’ or ‘who?’ But this sounded very much like łáska, which was a very frequent word, serving both as ‘they’ and to form the equivalent of Passive-voice verbs.

So it’s as if łáksta was in need of some reinforcement to compete against the super-common łáska, and that reinforcement came in the form of the average Joe … i.e. someone or other … i.e. łáksta-mán

Need I add, łáksta-mán is like so many other innovative forms in CW, in being optional. You could always say just łáksta

PS: when you specifically mean ‘someone or other’ rather than ‘who?’, you can of course say < klonas klaksta >, t’łúnás-łáksta, literally ‘maybe(.I.don’t.know)-who’!

What do you think?