Trai pus

A good question came up from Thinley Norbu in Facebook’s large Chinook Jargon community…

trai pus

Tri-trai again? “ROC curve for 300 PUs as training samples” (image credit: ResearchGate)

In all my discussion of how to say ‘try’ in Chinuk Wawa, I haven’t given a ton of training examples of the BC CW trai.

Alex Code responded to T.N. that this word is usually followed by pus (or pos if you’re using my BC teaching alphabet).

That’s an important point. 

I have found at least one occurrence of trai all by itself, but that’s in the rather uncommon intransitive sense of the word. If memory serves, the phrasing was something like < Tlus nsaika trai > (Tloosh nesaika trai in BC teaching alphabet; ɬush(-pus) nsayka tráy if we wanted to represent this in Grand Ronde-type spelling) — ‘Let us try’ (the US Army Corps of Engineers motto!) or ‘We should try’. 

I’ve also found transitive trai in expressions like < tlus msaika trai ukuk; pus tanas lili msaika trai ukuk… > ‘You folks should try this; if you’ll try this for a little while…’ 

Far more common indeed, though, is to find trai taking a subordinate clause indicating the result that’s being striven for. That clause is always, I believe, introduced by pus. Here are usage examples from Kamloops Wawa

First, examples where the subjects of trai and of the subordinate clause are identical (so there’s no repeated subject expressed in the subordinate); an English translation is typically just ‘to’: 

  • < …klaska ayu trai pus mamuk tlus ukuk windo… >
    ‘…they tried and tried to repair that window…’
  • < Nsaika trai pus slip kopa ukuk stimbot… >
    ‘We tried to sleep on board that steamboat…’

Second, an example where the subordinate-clause subject is different from the subject of trai, so an English translation is something like ‘so that, in order that; to make it be that’:

  • < Alki naika trai pus March mun pipa aiak kro kopa msaika. >
    ‘I will try so that the month of March’s paper gets to you folks soon.’ 

Brief summary: if you use trai in your BC-style CW, ‘try to’ is trai pus…; ‘try something’ and just plain ‘try’ are trai all by itself.

hayu masi to everyone who asks questions when I share Chinuk Wawa material! You are the reason for so many of the useful articles on this website!

What do you think?