More clues that religious CW is southern, creole CW

It’s a point that I’ll always keep making, and building up the proof.

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(Image credit: Foundry Brothers)

The Catholic religious “register” of Chinuk Wawa, even in northern places such as BC, carries an especially strong historical kinship with southern, Columbia River-area, creolized CW.

The “Chinook Book of Devotions throughout the Year” (Kamloops, 1902) bears many marks of this.

One of them is its use of pus, which sometimes matches the southern habit of making this word mean “for (a thing)”:

  • page 163:
    Kopa ukuk aias haha ⊕ maika mamuk nanich kopa nsaika
    kʰupa úkuk hayas-x̣aʔx̣aʔ likalisti mayka mamuk-nánich kʰupa nsáyka
    by this very-sacred eucharist you Cause-see to us 
    ‘By this most holy eucharist you show us’ 

    kata maika mimlus ankati pus nsaika
    qʰáta mayka míməlus ánqati pus nsáyka
    how you die long.ago for us
    ‘how you died long ago for us…’

    …pi maika taii kanamokst ST papa pi Sint Ispri
    …pi mayka táyí kʰánumákst sáx̣ali-táyí pápá pi séntesprí*
    …and you chief together.with sky-chief father and Holy.Spirit 
    ‘…and you are the chief along with God the father and the holy spirit’


    pus kwanisim kopa sahali ilihi.
    pus kwánisəm kʰupa sáx̣ali-ílihi. 
    for always in sky-land. 
    forever in heaven.’


  • page 165:
    Klaksta makmak ukuk saplil, iaka illi pus kwanisim.
    ɬaksta mə́kʰmək úkuk saplél, yaka əlí* pus kwánisəm.
    who eat this bread, (s)he be.alive for always
    ‘Whoever eats this bread will live forever.’

This prepositional use of pus differs from the word’s virtually ironclad limitation in Kamloops-area CW to “irrealis” marking.

That is, in BC everyday non-religious speech, pus is normally a (non-prepositional) marker of events that haven’t necessarily occurred yet. Which covers quite a range, from doing things for a given purpose (which hasn’t yet come true), to asking if/whether something is the case, to labeling an idea as purely hypothetical. 

We would expect, and we do normally find, the more nounlike expressions such as ‘for us’ and ‘for always’ to be instead rendered in northern CW by the prepositional phrases kopa nsaika (e.g. page 28 of the Book of Devotions) & kopa kwanisim (e.g. page 1). 

The above examples, by contrast, exceptionally combine pus with a (pro)noun ‘us’, and with an adverb ‘always’; thus my translation as ‘for (a thing)’.

That’s a characteristically southern-style usage, one that I’ve previously suggested is due to Chinuk Wawa’s having creolized in the Fort Vancouver area, with influence from Métis/Canadian French pour ‘for’. In fact in the 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary that you should own a copy of, you’ll find the exact same phrase pus-kwánisəm ‘forever’.

Bonus fact:

The above adverb instances are kind of an intermediate case. It’s obvious that kwánisəm ‘always’ isn’t much of a noun!

In fact I suspect that historically the phrase pus-kwánisəm is among the older (earlier) prepositional uses of pus. I say that because it’s quite easy to see how it could’ve started out having a literal sense involving the irrealis marker, and a typically CW stative verb: ‘so that it will be forever’.

As a matter of fact I’d never claim that kwánisəm became fully a noun in any variety of Jargon. But I do think we can make a good case that pus-kwánisəm helped inspire the (prepositional) pus + noun structure!

What do you think?