Saturday, May 26, 2007

Rumsen wordlist

For the gentleman who commented (and anyone else) who is interested in a Rumsen (Ohlone) wordlist, here it goes. It is far from complete, and I can add more later, but this is at least a start.


1. Doubled vowels are pronounced longer than short (single) ones.
2. Doubled consonants are pronounced longer than short (single) ones.
3. Words almost always stressed on first syllable.
4. ‘ represents a glottal stop, or closure of the vocal cords (always when a word begins with a vowel).
5. č = ch as in church.
6. r seems to represent a trill or tap, as in Spanish.
7. š = sh as in ship.
8. S = retroflex s with the tongue curled back.

9. T = retroflex t with the tongue curled back.
10. x = guttural kh sound as in German Bach.

abalone, ‘awlon
American, Mirkan
ant, ottowx
arm, ‘iS or ‘iss (also hand)
arrow, tepS
arroyo, rumme

bad, yečemest (cf. devil)
basket, čiiwin
beach, kaaw
bead, piSmin
bear, ‘orreS
big, ‘issak

blackberry, ‘ennen
blackbird, kulyan
boat, waarko (<>barco)
bow, lawwan
bread, šetxel
butterfly, siililkw
candy, tommoy
cheese, kiiSo
chicken, puyyito
chief, kayaramk/
cloud, meč
clover, muuren
coyote, (čačakiiy) maččan
crab, ‘ičaw

crazy, ixsist
crow, kakiriwx

dance, čitts
day, Tuuxs
deer, (čačakiiy) tooT
(lit. 'wild meat')

devil, yečem
dog, maččan or šoošo

door, ‘inx (also road)
eagle, siirix
earth, pirre

eel, očrowx
egg, motx

elk, čerič
evening, ‘uuyakaw
father, ‘appa

fire, sottow
fish, kinnir
flea, poor
flower, tiwis
fog, mačar
food, ‘amxayin

foot, korro (also leg)
forehead, ‘urri
friend, ‘ukx

frog, kolyoč or wakatsem
good, miSix

hair (head), ‘utt
hair (body), Taap
hand, ‘iS or ‘iss (also arm)
hawk, siwker

head, ‘utt (also hair on head)
hello! inkaté!
hill, čippil
horse, kawwayo
house, rukk

hummingbird, ‘ummun
husband, ‘uurin

knee, toolS
lake, čaapur
land, pirre (also year)

leg, korro (also foot)
man, mukiamk
medicine man, ‘utten
medicine woman, čaačas
Monterey, ‘Aččis(ta)
moon, ‘ismen*

mosquito, palakans
mother, ‘aan

mountain, huT
mushroom, ‘aasakwa
night, ‘orpetewx or muur
no, kuuwe
otter, šuušč
owl, tukkun
pelican, yeyexem
person, ‘amma or kata
pine, ‘ixx

pipe (smoking), kunuš
pretty, miššix (cf. good)
puma, xoom
raccoon, šašran

rain, ‘innam
rattlesnake, ‘ipx
redwood, xoop

river, waččor
rock, ‘irrek

road, ‘inx
salmon, ‘uurak
seagull, sawran or puuk

skunk, tixsin
sky, tapper or čarax
small, puSSut

smoke, kaar
snake, lisan
Spanish, kaSteyano
splitstick, tarran
squirrel, ‘eex
star, pak(a)rar

sun, 'ismen
thank you, šururu
tree, pookonin or tiš (cf. wood)
water, siiy
wife, xawwan

wild, čačakiiy
wind, teer(x)
wolf, ‘umx or ‘umux

woman, ačyamk
wood, tiš (also tree)
year, pirre
yes, ‘ee

To form plurals, add -kay to a noun ending in a vowel, and -akay to a noun ending in a consonant (e.g., 'appa-kay 'fathers' and tiš-akay 'trees').

Here are the numbers:

1. 'imxala
2. 'uttis
3. kappes
4. 'uutitim
5. xala'iss
6. xali-šakken
7. ('u)čumai-šakken
8. kapxamai-šakken
9. pak
10. tantsarkt

These data come from Harrington's microfiche files containing his notes from his work with the last native speaker of Rumsen, Isabel Meadows, in the 1930s. The modern spelling is derived from not only Harrington but from other academicians (Catherine Callaghan, Marc Okrand)who've worked on the language over the years and have done comparative analysis of the phonetics of other Ohlonean languages.

I will of course try and answer any questions as best I can based on my own research and what I know of the language so far.


* The noun 'ismen is best translated as something like "glowing orb." It doubles for both "sun" and "moon" although one can specify by: tuuxisiy 'ismen 'sun' ("daytime orb") and 'orpetewxiy 'ismen 'moon' ("nighttime orb").

The bear bites the moon

Rumsens referred to a lunar eclipse as "the bear biting the moon," e.g., "Čarwayink ku murrem ‘ismen, was ‘orreS kaas," 'Tomorrow the moon will darken; the bear will bite it."