Things Chinuk Wawa doesn’t do (Part 2)

From your own learning, what have you learned Chinuk Wawa doesn’t do? Leave me a Comment & I’ll write about your idea!

Part 1 told you how there’s no real Passive “voice” in Chinook Jargon.

hide yourself

Image credit: IMDB

This Part 2 wants you to know, there’s no real Reflexive (people doing things to ‘themself’) either.

In the past, I have pointed out a couple of workarounds, each having its drawbacks:

  • There’s some limited use that you can get out of saying someone did this-or-that to “yaka iɬwəli” (their body) or “yaka təmtəm” (their mind). But you can’t use these expressions with any old randomly picked verb, so they’re not exactly true Reflexives.
  • And some small sample of Chinookers have been noted as saying yaka self. But I’m here to tell you, that usage isn’t known to have caught on.
  • At least some concepts of a “self” object can be clearly expressed by using the regular personal pronouns; if I look in a mirror, nayka nanich nayka (I see me) there. But a lot of times, this way of talking gets way too redundant. And Jargon doesn’t like using extra words, when it can avoid them. So *nayka wawa (kʰapa) nayka* for ‘I said to myself’ just feels like too much; I’d prefer to say nayka wawa, or getting more to the point, nayka təmtəm ‘I thought’.

The key difference to me here seems to be, ‘seeing’ is a physical fact, while ‘saying to yourself’ or ‘thinking’ might be considered mental events. You can literally “see you”, but you can’t literally stand in front of yourself and “talk to yourself”. Chinuk Wawa’s grammar concerns itself a great deal with distinctions like this.

We should also recall the ever-popular Syntax 101 class concept, pointing out that without special Reflexive pronouns like the English ‘herself’, French ‘se’, Russian ‘sebya’, etc., it can be hard to tell which 3rd person object is being talked about. So in Jargon, when we talk about woman W, saying yaka mamuk-wash yaka (munk-wash in the south) is actually hard to take as ‘*she washed herself/washed up/bathed*’. It’s more naturally ‘she [woman W] bathed her [e.g. a baby B]’.

So, you know what’s another — maybe the most common — Jargon equivalent to an English Reflexive, in all dialects and time periods? A way to get around some of this ambiguity? Which works especially well for 3rd persons such as ‘they’, ‘he’, ‘she’?

=> Regular old verbs, without any Direct Object whatsoever.  <=

This is why two of the usual ways to express (pardon this dark example) ‘hanging yourself’ are, simply:

  • mamuk-rop (northern dialect, literally ‘do-rope’; a southern version would be munk-lup), and 
  • < mamouk kaka > (southern dialect, literally ‘do-choking’), translated into French as ‘se pendre’ (in Anonymous 1849)

That is, we actually don’t find folks saying *yaka mamuk-rop yaka* for ‘she hung herself’. We only find yaka mamuk-rop.

Similarly, to ‘hide oneself’ is just ipsət.

And so forth.

It’s not easy to find examples of how to express Reflexive ideas, though, in dictionaries of Chinuk Wawa. Their traditional format is to tell you some basic verb form, and to assign a non-Reflexive meaning of it in English.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?