Resolved: single-word emotions are from Chinookan, multi-word from Salish

Here I’m supposing that Chinuk Wawa’s psychological-state (including emotion) lexemes typically derive from Lower Chinookan…

strong minded

(Image credit: NewJourneys.ca)

…Whereas its complex X-tə́mtəm (literally ‘X-hearted, X-minded’) phrases are modeled on Southwest Washington Salish with its “lexical suffix” forms that end in e.g. -ínwət ‘mind’ (with variant pronunciations such as -inut, sometimes preceded by the Salish “stem extender” -al).

I have previously written here about that latter pattern; I proposed that this CW X-tə́mtəm pattern, even though tə́mtəm has its etymology in Chinookan, does trace to that common pan-Salish formation. Examples of it include:

  • tláy-tə́mtəm ‘surprised’ (I’ve already shown that this is a Salish-inspired metaphor
  • sík-tə́mtəm ‘sad’ (cf. Upper Chehalis ʔays-ínut ‘sick will, sick mind, sad’, lit. ‘sick-mind’)
  • ɬúsh-tə́mtəm ‘glad, in good humor, happy’ (cf. Lower Cowlitz ʔay-ál-nut ‘in a good humor’, literally ‘good-mind’)
  • ɬax̣áyam-tə́mtəm ‘oppressed in spirit’
  • skúkum-tə́mtəm ‘strong-spirited’ (cf. Upper Chehalis c’əp-ínut ‘feel strong’, lit. ‘strong-mind’)

What I’ve not come up with before is this lexical distinction. Single-word terms for psychological states are typically accepted as coming from Lower Chinookan particles, specifically from a subset of the “attribute complements” as Franz Boas called them. Here are examples: 

  • yútɬiɬ ‘glad; proud’
  • sáliks ‘mad, angry’
  • yíx ‘ tipsy’
  • masháchi ‘mean’
  • k’w’ás ‘afraid’

An interesting wrinkle here: some of the “simplex” psychological-state words (such as yútɬiɬ) appear to be even older, pre-Chinuk Wawa, loans into Lower Chinookan from … guess what … Salish, where they may have been “complex” words!

That yútɬiɬ was perhaps originally a Salish yútɬ ‘glad’ plus -əɬ ‘very’, for example.

And one of them even preserves the original Salish ‘mind’ suffix, I’ve suggested: CW t’ɬəmínxwət ‘(tell a) lie’ (i.e. be untruthful), considered a Lower Chinookan word, looks to come from a Salish root of now unclear meaning plus -inwət

I hypothesize that there are compelling CW-internal reasons for this Chinookan-vs.-Salish division of labour. For instance, the Chinookan word for both ‘poor’ and ‘sad’ came into CW as ɬax̣áyam, which is more restricted to the ‘poor’ sense — and so, another expression had to be coined within CW, on the Salish model (‘poor-hearted’).

Another potential analysis could be that the single-lexeme words of this class might be “family / household” words, of frequent intimate occurrence “between you & me”, whereas the Salish-style multi-lexeme terms might be more sorta 3rd-person descriptors of people not present. I dunno…

Caveat: there exist a few psychological-state words that are not of Indigenous origin:

  • budí ‘pouty’ from Canadian / Métis French
  • < tapahote > ‘shameless’ from French also, in the Fort Vancouver era 
  • klísi & píltən ‘crazy’, both from English (the latter being an Anglo-American surname)
  • sk(w)áti ‘crazy’ in northern CW, from British English ‘scatty’ / ‘scotty’

These ideas I’m putting forth today are a surprisingly big subject; probably worth somebody doing a Master’s thesis on. So, what I’ve said above is just a starter. 

What do you think?