hól and hál?

Spare a thought for the etymology of Grand Ronde Chinuk Wawa’s hól ‘to hold’…


To hold and to haul (image credit: UHaul)

hól appears to be one elder speaker’s innovation, a Clara Riggs-ism.

The most obvious etymology for it is in English ‘hold, which is also how the word is defined in the 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary of CW. Here’s the example sentence:

so nay hol yaka limá nay nanch yax̣ka
‘So I held her hand and I looked at her.’

And yet…there would seem to be extremely few new English loans into GR CW. Unlike the British Columbia situation, Grand Ronde community members grew up speaking Chinuk Wawa together, and they give me the impression of having guarded CW as a tribal language — keeping it distinct from how outsiders talked. 

So then, is it at least plausible that this one speaker, who like virtually all GR folks of her generation was natively bilingual in both CW and English, reinterpreted the common and long-established Jargon verb “hál” ‘pull’ as a variant of English “hold”? (I know, this would mean reinterpreting the above example as ‘So I pulled on her hand…’)

We know, from 1980s recordings of Mrs. Riggs that Dr. Henry Zenk made, that in her old age she sometimes interpolated English words into her Jargon sentences. Could it be that in her youth she had a similar habit? I ask this because her word hól seems well entrenched; she used it more than once, and in more than one way, including in a phrase ískam-hól ‘get and hold on to’ (I’d suggest comparing that to English ‘take hold (of)’, which is its literal meaning). Here’s an example of the latter, from the same speaker:

yaka ìskam-hól ukuk ‘cane
‘He took and held onto that cane.’

Words carry history.

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qʰáta mayka tə́mtəm?
What do you think?