‘Good enough’ for linguistics work :)

Another Chinuk Wawa structure that I propose comes from (Lower) Chinookan languages…

good enough

(Image credit: MIT Press)

…but I think ‘X enough’ is a CW invention based on Chinookan ‘enough’.

Here’s my thinking.

Quite frequent in Natítanui (Shoalwater-Clatsop Lower Chinookan) is the use of the uninflected particle kapít / kopít as a quantifier, ‘enough’ (‘a sufficient amount’), all by its lonesome. I find numerous examples of that in the stories by Q’lti (Charles Cultee) as published in 1894 by Franz Boas.

It’s pretty easy to see how Chinookan ‘enough’ became both ‘enough’ and ‘finish; done’ in CW, isn’t it? You could tell somebody who’s in the process of doing something (catching salmon, piling up blankets to trade to you, etc.) the simple word ‘enough’, and be understood at least a good part of the time as saying ‘stop!’

What I found really noteworthy was that there seems to be no occurrence of that word as an adverbial in expressions for ‘Adjective enough’, e.g. ‘big enough’; instead, Q’lti uses inflected verbs that mean ‘to fit’ and so forth.

In the one case where I have noticed kapít together with an adjectival, it apparently has a different meaning:

large enough

‘large, enough large’ (‘when they [pieces of whale meat] are large, they are left large’) — Boas 1894:261 (263)

In fact I suspect that this single outlying instance may be an intrusion of CW kəpít ‘only; just’ into Q’lti’s native language of Natítanui! It’s as if he was saying (since the Chinookan adjective here is, strictly speaking, singular) ‘A large one, it was just a large one’.

(Can you imagine what it’s like to try to distinguish in your mind between your birth language that you hardly ever speak, and a pidgin-creole version of it that you speak every day??)

The adverbial ‘only’ of ‘only X’ (which is kəpít X in Chinuk Wawa) is, in Lower Chinookan, expressed by a suffix -ka on numerals and pronouns, or by a particle yáma (which itself can carry that suffix).

On an important related note, ‘finish’ in Chinookan appears to be expressed by an inflected verb, unrelated to kapít / kopít.

All of the above observations appear to apply equally to Upper and Lower Chinookan, all 4 languages.

So CW’s sense ‘finish, done’ for its kəpít would seem to be a newer invention, a post-Chinookan one. 

And my sense is that the more complex use of kəpít in CW, followed by an adjective (e.g. kəpít-háyásh ‘big enough’) or a quantifier (e.g. kəpít-kákwa-háyú ‘(numerous) enough)’, and meaning ‘X enough’, is nowhere to be found in Chinookan languages. So I’ll have to infer that it, too, is an invention endogenous to (originating within) the Jargon. Thus I think it’s a younger expression, created during the era of CW’s known existence, within the last 200 or so years. 

What do you think?