Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ąckana Paxexkana hą
The Crow and the Hawk
A Biloxi story

ĄckahoNna tandoyą Paxexkana yįkati. Eke hande ką thedi yįkati. EkeoNni ką Ąckana acodoNta hande oNni Paxexkana. EkeoNnidi hane dixyį wahe dusi de oNni. Etu xa. Eke xya ką hane dixyį awahe yuke xya. Etu xa.
ĄckahoNna tandoyą Paxexkana yįkati.
crow-?-DEF younger brother-DEF hawk-DEF marry

Eke hande thedi yįkati.
this doing DS die-FOC married (one)

EkeoNni Ąckana acodoNta hande oNni Paxexkana.
this done DS crow-DEF mourn PROG PAST hawk-DEF

EkeoNnidi hane dixyį wahe dusi de oNni.
this done-FOC find when cry catch go PAST

Etu xa.
3PL-say always

Eke xya hane dixyį awahe yuke xya.
this always DS find when HAB-cry move always

Etu xa.
3PL-say always

Crow married Hawk’s younger brother. Then the younger brother died. Crow mourned. Now you’ll find Crow (trying to) catch her lost husband. This they say. This is why Crow is always crying out as it moves. This they say.

Switch Reference in Biloxi

There is some debate about whether switch reference is at work in Biloxi. According to Randy Graczyk (1999)*, there is indeed a switch reference system evident in Biloxi through the particles that I’ve labeled above as SS (same subject) or DS (different subject). Actually, this short myth is not ideal for representing this possible switch reference pattern in Biloxi, and I hope to post larger stories later (in my plentiful spare time!) with both SS and DS evident. See what you think from the above. The particle , the (proposed) different subject (DS) particle, certainly seems to consistently conform to a subject change in the story line.

Imąkiyą phi ąkte.

* Graczyk, R. (1999). Switch Reference in Biloxi. Unpublished manuscript.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Maččan ‘inn ‘Ummun
Coyote and Hummingbird

A Rumsen story

Maččanmur pessoy ‘exxemur ‘ixxest. ‘Ummuninkmur was-kannew. Maččaninkmur ‘iwsen nimm ‘ummuniy. Maččaninkmur ‘urrun ‘ummuniy. Neeyink was-čacc. Neeyink ku-wattin.

Neeyink ku-pussep sa ‘ummun. Neeyink ku-‘ummuy tapper, ‘ayyken "lakkun, lakkun,” ‘ooyostinkmur. Neeyinkmur maččan ‘ummap neeyinkmur ‘urru ‘attap ‘ummuniy. Neeyinkmur was-‘otč xuyya sottow. Neeyink ku-wattiy kuumur ‘ewwey wattiy, tanmur pessepiki. Saanaymur ‘aawaaten, tanmur pussepiki ‘ayken ka-lakkun ka-lakkun. Neeyinkmur kayy maččan: "‘Ink kuka’anami was-nimm?"

Neeyink kuwas-‘uti-kayy mee ku-‘aa-xiče katakumewas-‘ammay, katti-‘aa-ink kumewas-nimm. Tannayinkmur was-‘amxayiki ‘ummuniy. Tannayinkmur kuuy was-waxč, waxč, xuywa-pittin. Neeyink ku-kayy maččan: "‘Ink kuka-xičiy? Ka-lakkun, yete ka-lakkun, kayymur maččan." Neeyink kuwas-‘uti-kayy: mee kuwas-čallap. "Čallapink!" Neeyink ku-xiče, neeyink ku ‘ummuy ‘ummun tapper. Aayekmur "lakkun, lakkun."

Okay, if you persisted in looking through all that and are wondering what it is, it's a Rumsen Ohlone myth. This is one of the myths recorded by Harrington when he interviewed Isabelle Meadows, the last speaker of Rumsen, in the 1930s. I just finished typing it into my computer from microfilm copy. The English translation below is mine, since Harrington's translation is in old California Spanish, which, even for a Spanish speaker, can be difficult to decipher. So I hope I at least got the gist of it down. I hope to put more of these myths up on this blog as time and energy permit.

Coyote, by the way, is a popular mythological figure especially among western Amerindian tribes. Coyote is often a trickster and sometimes is at the receiving end of jokes or pranks, as in this particular myth. Just a warning that it is a bit graphic, but in an all around humorous way.

Here is my English translation:

Coyote thought he knew a lot. But Hummingbird beat him. Coyote wanted to kill Hummingbird, so Coyote grabbed Hummingbird and shredded him to pieces. Then Coyote left.

Hummingbird revived himself. Then Hummingbird flew up, jokingly yelling "I’m dying! I’m dying!" Coyote poked the [camp] fire and grabbed Hummingbird again. Then he threw him into the fire. Then he left. Coyote didn’t go far before Hummingbird revived himself, shouting "I’m dying! I’m dying!" Then Coyote asked: "How am I going to kill him?"

They* told him: You must eat him to kill him. So Coyote ate Hummingbird. But then Hummingbird was scratching (?) Coyote’s stomach. Then Coyote said "What am I going to do? I’m dying! I’m dying!" said Coyote. Then they told Coyote he must shit Hummingbird out. "Shit him out!" So Coyote did so, then Hummingbird flew up yelling "I’m dying! I’m dying!" (mockingly).

* I'm not sure here who this "they" refers to that are speaking to Coyote.

(By the way, I'd like to dedicate this post to the memories of Isabel Meadows, John Harrington, and to all the remaining Rumsen Ohlone tribal members who still struggle for federal recognition in their coastal California homeland. I hope for their eventual successful revitalization of their language and culture.) - Shururu.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What Ainu about I know

Oh! That should be: What I know about Ainu. Heh.

Before I start on Ainu, I wanted to point everyone over to Jabal Al-Lughat where Lameen has a link to an article about the discovery of the most ancient writing yet found in the Americas, probably Olmec in origin, dating back to 900 BC. Needless to say, this is the most exciting linguistic news to hit the Americas since the discovery of Mayan hieroglyphs, previously thought to be the oldest writing system in the Americas (dating back to around 200 BC).

Anyway, Ainu. (Aynu means 'person' in Ainu.) I just wrote a paper for my Ethnolinguistics class titled, Ainu: A Grammatical Sketch. It was a very short summary of simple Ainu grammar that did not touch on its rich complexities. Ainu was once spoken on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, as well as on the Sakhalin Peninsula and Kurile Islands of Russia. Ainu is what we call a "language isolate," like Basque, not known to be related to any other language.

Ainu now has few or no speakers, most of the remaining Ainu having intermarried with the Japanese. In fact, the origin of the Ainu remains the biggest mystery of northeast Asia. Some have tried to link them to Polynesians, Amerindians, and, yes, even the Basques. Cultural and anthropological evidence, however, seems to point to southeast Asia as the likely origin of the Ainu, since they share many material and cultural traits with the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Here is a brief partial text in Classical Ainu followed by the English translation:

I-resu yupi i-resu sapo i-res-pa hine oka-an ike:- Kamuy kat casi casi upsor a-i-o-resu. Tapan inuma ran-pes kunne cirikinka, enkasike nispa-mut-pe out-santuka o-uka-uyru out-pusa-kur suypa kane asso-kotor mike kane anramasu auwesuye.

My foster brother and foster sister raising me, we lived then. The god-built mountain castle, inside the mountain castle, I was raised. The pile of treasure was heaped like a cliff, and above it the master’s swords were crossing their hilts,
and when the shadows of the sword knots swayed, the walls glittered in gold.
How beautiful and how interesting!

On other linguistic issues, I hope to type up five Rumsen* Ohlone texts from Harrington's notes, three occurring in Rumsen with Spanish translations, one occurring in Spanish only, and one occurring in Rumsen only (this will be the biggest challenge having no translation).

On the Biloxi front, I have a Committee selected for my MA thesis beginning next semester, which will focus on some aspect of Biloxi, perhaps dealing with morphological issues.

My colleague and I will be meeting with our native K'anjob'al speaker later this week to work on our next class assignment: Mayan verb paradigms.

Also, I'm in email correspondence with a member of the Tutelo-Saponi tribe of North Carolina who is trying to revitalize his heritage language, a close cousin of Biloxi. I'm excited to see what steps he'll take in revitalizing the language, especially with rather scant and spotty data. Perhaps we'll learn more about this process together.

All for now.

* BTW--Notice I'm writing Rumsen, not 'Rumsien.' This is because I came across a section of Harrington's notes where he specifically asked the native speaker the name of her language. Nowhere did the name ever occur with an extra -i-. Thus, from now on, Rumsen it is!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Another ōlelo no’eau

Okay, so I've been listening to Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu's CD "Call It What You Like" in the car lately driving around Lawrence and it's definitely got me in a Hawaiian mood. As any of you who've followed my blog know, I occasionally try to find tidbits of wisdom, proverbs, or stories from the languages I'm studying. (Notice I don't use the past tense "studied." I mean, do we ever really finish "studying" a language, whether it's a new foreign language or our own mother tongue? I think learning a language is a lifelong process and a lifelong endeavor. I point that out to my students of Spanish who think they'll "study" Spanish for one or two semesters and then they'll know it and be done with it. That just makes me want to quote Nelson on the Simpsons and say, "Ha ha!")

Anyhow, Hawaiian. Here is the latest ōlelo no’eau ("important saying" or proverb) from Hawai'i:

Maka'ala ke kanaka kahea manu.
alert DEF man call bird

A man who calls birds should always be alert.

The ancient Hawaiian ali'i, chiefs, wore capes and headdresses crafted by weaving in thousands of tiny bird feathers. The Kanaka Kahea Manu, bird-caller, would imitate bird calls to attract birds to him. When they approached, he would pluck out a small number of their feathers and let the birds go. Once he called the birds, he had to stay alert and be prepared to move quickly to catch them when they came near. This proverb advises one who wishes to succeed to be alert to opportunities and seize them when they arise.

By the way, that definite article ke reminds me of something. Do any ōlelo Hawai'i kine out there know the answer to this question? It appears other Polynesian languages have only one form of the definite article, such as Tahitian and Māori te. Hawaiian, however, has two: ke and ka. I know ke is used most often before nouns beginning with a vowel or the letter k (e.g., ke ala, ke kanaka) and ka is used before nouns beginning with all other consonants, including glottal stops (e.g., ka hula, ka 'aina). But why do a few words beginning with p (e.g., , dish and po'o, head) require ke instead of ka before them? So far I've found no good answers in the dictionaries or grammar books I have. Has this phenomenon even been studied? (Aw, it must have been!)

Ā hui hou.