‘Away’ with words

Here’s a formation that I wager is English-inspired in CW.

away with words

A fun book, go away to your library and read it! (Image credit: Amazon)

And I think it’s from what we can think of as the late-creolized (or even re-creolized) stage of the southern dialect.

Getting right into it, here are 5 examples of French expressions that have something semantically in common:

  • ranger ‘to put away’, newer s. Chinuk Wawa másh-sayá (literally ‘throw-far’)
  • jeter ‘to throw away’, nsCW másh-sayá 
  • repousser ‘to push away’, nsCW pʰúsh-sayá (lit. ‘push-far’)
  • donner ‘to give away’, I believe I’ve seen present-day southern CW pálach-sayá (lit. ‘give-far’)
  • s’en aller ‘to go away’, nsCW ɬátwa-sayá (‘go-far’)

Fooled you! I really just wanted you to compare French, English, and CW.

See the pattern?

CW expresses both transitive and intransitive change-of-location away from the Subject or Agent of the verb in a way that parallels English ‘verb away’, enlisting its adverb sayá ‘far’ for this.

It may be significant that this particular construction limits sayá to a position after the verb. Even though adverbs in the Jargon otherwise have a good deal of freedom to occur either there or in a couple of positions before verbs. This specialized position in ‘-away’ expressions suggests that some grammaticalization (functional specialization) has taken place.

I’m not aware of this structure having occurred very much among CW speakers prior to the first generations of folks born in the Grand Ronde rez community from about 1855-1900.

(For instance I don’t seem to find it in Demers-Blanchet-St. Onge 1871, whose data are from circa 1840. St. Onge’s 1892 manuscript dictionary, with circa 1870 data, has only < tlatawa-saia-maika! > ‘begone!’, which tellingly has a verbless and therefore not necessarily relevant synonym < saia maika! >.)

It’s especially associated with GR people born toward the end of that time frame.

These particular elders I’m talking about grew up speaking Jargon as, typically, a co-first language with English. Of the languages in the reservation’s cultural mix, English was far more influential than any of the pre-rez tribal languages.

To give some examples of how some of the area’s Indigenous languages express ‘verb away’, I’ll list the following:

  • Lower Cowlitz Salish ʔáx̣ʷn ‘to throw away’, k’ə́ɬn ‘to throw away’
  • Upper Chehalis Salish čáɬšn ‘to give away to’
  • Natítanui (Shoalwater-Clatsop Lower Chinookan) -tx ‘to give away’

That’s quite a small sampling, but the preliminary generalization seems valid that the area’s older tribal languages did not use a word (or a morpheme) for ‘away’ in these expressions. Similar to French, the above are either simple roots or roots augmented by a boring normal transitive marker.

So indeed, out of all of the major input languages to the formation of CW, it’s only English that already had a structure analogous to ‘verb-sayá‘. I think English has to be the “etymology” of this Jargon construction.

What do you think?