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Only a couple days ago, M³ were discussing how we both foolishly persist in believing we'll remember things that we don't. Particularly things we find on the Internet. I tend to be very sparing in my bookmarks because I figure if I found it once, I'll be able to find it again. (Stop tittering, y'all.) A couple days ago, I got a reminder how not true this is when I spent well near half an hour trying to hunt down a picture of the piglet squid that I believe I originally saw in [ profile] moominmolly's journal. Then this afternoon I did it again, spending almost as much time relocating a fantastic index of Great Plains plants and their historical common names that I stumbled across last week while reading up on native foodstuffs of the Osage. You'd think all I'd have to do would be check the History, yet someone I managed to keep overlooking the link.

One of the surprising facts I unearthed recently while doing research on native flowering trees is that it was once popular to eat redbud blossoms. There's no citation, but Wikipedia tells me "Native Americans consumed redbud flowers raw or boiled, and ate roasted seeds." Elsewhere I read "Redbud flowers are edible, with a slightly nutty flavor. They can be added to pancakes or fritters or used as an attractive garnish on salads. Or you can use them to make a unique pickle relish!" I remembered seeing an old common name for the redbud that referenced this, but I couldn't remember exactly what it was; turns out it's "salad tree", a name listed as being "obsolete by 1923". With this in mind, I nibbled on a blossom coming back from lunch. Nice texture. It would be good in a salad or relish.

Of course, I'm particularly chuffed to find that that site hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln lists not only English common names but French and Amerind ones as well. And there are some interesting parallels. For instance, among the synonyms for Cercis canadensis L. is žongšabethe hi (i.e. žąąsape hu), which is glossed as "dark-wood tree" (and probably comes ultimately from La Flesche, although the proximate source is an article in Plains Anthropologist). This has a parallel in bois noir, which appears in the journal of an 18th-century French botanist. Coincidence? Well, there's also the case of Maclura pomifera (a.k.a. Osage orange) which is bois d'arc in French up to the present day and mįcešta hu "bow tree" in Osage. And Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) which is bois de fleche in a French source from 1828 and mǫǫsa hu or "arrow shaft tree" in modern Osage.
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"Bring out your dead!" > cʔe įkše waðįachi

  1. cʔe can also mean "death" or "to die", but following it with the "lying" positional article įkše makes it clear that the reference is to dead bodies. (I considered using the article ke "scattered", since the bodies are in multiple locations, but dismissed this as overthinking the translation.)
  2. Since there are many bodies, the verb takes the prefix 3P patient prefix wa-.
  3. aðįachi is actually a compound of the verb aðį "to have" and achi "to arrive here". There seems to be little difference in meaning from substituting ahu "to come towards here" for the second element.

"I go to sleep and dream of the sun." > ažąą mįį iahǫbre

  1. I was wondering whether or not to use the inceptive infix ki on the first verb, but again I concluded this was an overtranslation.
  2. There is no overt conjunction linking the two clauses; "I-fall.asleep sun I-dream.of" is clear enough.
  3. The second verb was problematic. First of all, it's unclear from the data what its proper inflection should be. I somewhat arbitrarily went with active rather than stative and initial rather than infixed, although La Flesche has the exact opposite. Second, I debated whether or not there needed to be an instrumental prefix or whether the verb could simply be used transitively. In the end, I went with the former since that's what's found on the corresponding Lakota verb.
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Looking at my Osage notes, I saw that I have too glossed as Glycine apios [sic]. This species name appears not to exist, but Apios americana does. It's a native plant (duh!) which produces a big starchy tuber that was important in the diets of Woodland peoples. So why don't we eat it today? Slow growing time and sprawly growing habits, mainly, but apparently there's a team working on that. In Modern Osage (as Quintero calls the language of the samples she collected from the last generation of native speakers), this word only survives in compounds like tooska "Irish potato"(ska means "white"--presumably referring to the colour of the potato, not the colour of the Irish) and tooskue "sweet potato" (skuðe "sweet"). I don't know how I got confused and thought that too was the name of Nelumbo lutea (American lotus, yonkapin, water chinquapin, etc.)--another big starchy tuber eaten by the Osage before we-all stumbled along--but the name for that is actually hcewa.

In general, I've been sadly disappointed by how few terms for native plants are found in Quintero's dictionary, but I guess it just goes to show how little the last surviving speakers talked about such things. What's more disappointing, in a way, is that this makes clear that she hasn't incorporated all of La Flesche's material. In the preface, she offers a sort of apology for not confirming every item he collected with native speakers, making the very reasonable point that eliciting sentences seemed a greater priority (not to mention a more engaging task for the participants) than going over old wordlists. Yet she still includes some unconfirmed items, just not all of them. In my notes, for instance, I have žąąsape (lit. "black trunk") for "redbud" (Cercis canadensis) from La Flesche, but there's no entry for it in Quintero. I can't fathom her reasons for leaving this out but including such words as žeká óhkiche "knee joint" or htachí "muskrat".

I hate to fault such masterful meticulous work in any way, but I was really hoping this would be the One Dictionary To Rule Them All as far as Osage is concerned. There is so little published material on Osage available--basically we're talking La Flesche's BAE publications and J.O. Dorsey's papers--that I'm it couldn't all have been incorporated. Of course, that's easy for me to say, with no idea of the kinds of constraints that Quintero was working under. And, of course, with language revival efforts currently underway, there's always hope for a second edition.
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Thank you Mr Postman! For a lazy day loaded with anticipation, this one fairly flew by. I'm finally taking a break after nestling in bed with my new acquisition for at least an uninterrupted hour. Good gravy, I love browsing dictionaries! I was mortified to have that known when I was in middle school, but I've long since learned to embrace my nerdiness without apology. As I suspected, this one is a beauty. Quintero seems to attack all her Osage-related projects with a thoroughness that shames boatloads of less linguists.

So now that the initial rush is waning, the first order of business is to comb my past entries for problems that I'm finally in a position to solve. For instance, I remember I was confused about which continuative marker to use with niižu in the expression "it's raining". The basic contrast is "present and at rest" (akxa) vs. "moving or not in view" (apa). Rain is present, but isn't it moving? Quintero clarifies in the entry, "'Moving' here means 'changing location'; motions or gestures that do not change the entity's location in horizontal space do not take this affix." Then she gives several examples, including nuužúžu akxai "it was sprinkling", so that settles that.

Another time, I was looking for terms for "skunk" and "possum" and struggling with LaFlesche's entries. In light of my uncertainty over which spelling to use in the first case, it's amusing to have her tell me that both mǫka and mąka are correct. (Mąkaleze, on the other hand, is conspicuous in its absence.) *Sįešta, on the other hand, doesn't need its e and Quintero proposes the etymology "smooth (štaha) squirrel (sįka)" rather than "smooth tail (sįįce)", as I had surmised.

Now I'm not sure what to do with my list of Osage month names culled from LaFlesche. Quintero lists them, but in each entry she includes the note "[Names of months were historically not used in Osage and sound unnatural to Osage speakers (HH).]" ["HH" or Hazel Harper was one of her informants.] It makes me wonder why she includes them (at the behest of revivalists who need terms for such things?) and how LaFlesche came across them in the first place (missionaries' inventions?).
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Five years ago, I discovered a copy of Carolyn Quintero's Osage grammar and it swept me off my feet. I was impressed with what a well-organised and beautifully-written book it was and entranced with the language it described. I devoured it. I read and re-read the marvelous descriptions of its mind-boggling verbal complexes and struggled to wrap my mind around its syntax. I discovered a Siouan mailing list that Quintero occasionally contributed to and read through a couple years' worth of archived posts.

The only flaw in the grammar was that there was no glossary. Undaunted, I sat down with a legal pad and created my own. The only dictionary I could find of the language was Francis LaFlesche's, but it was hard to use and full of errors. (I don't mean to run down LaFlesche--he did the best he could when even few Osage were interested in preserving the language--but he was a native speaker of Omaha-Ponca, another Siouan language, and that interfered with his attempts to render Osage words correctly.) There were other sources of Osage vocabulary, such as the texts of George Dorsey, but they were even harder to track down or make use of.

But all of this was moot, because in addition to being commissioned to write a grammar, Quintero had also been tasked by the Osage Nation with the compilation of a dictionary. And from reading the Siouan list, I learned it was to be published any day! As I wrote at the time:
It's both a relief and a torture to find out that Quintero sent her dictionary to the publisher last December; a relief because I'm tired of working from the couple-page wordlist I've managed to squeeze out of her book, a torture because of course I want my copy NOW and can't figure out what's taking so goddamn long.
Half-a-year later, its publication was still just around the corner. No sweat, these things happen. But it was the same the year after that. I got frustrated and I lost interest. Irish began to claim my attention, then Hindi, then Polish.

I stopped reading the Siouan list, but occasionally hope would flicker up again and I would check the University of Oklahoma Press website. I wasn't surprised to see a blurb for the Osage Dictionary appear over a year ago announcing its pending publication. And I wasn't surprised to see it hang there, month after month, with no change in status. Part of me longed to pre-order, but part of me was loath to admit that I was getting my hopes up again. Around Christmastime, when [ profile] monshu went mad and ordered every expensive title on my wish list, he put this on, too. Last month, when Amazon asked yet again if he wanted to renew the order, he finally replied "No".

So it was merely out of some ingrained habit that I checked the page again two days ago. I certainly had no hope of seeing the words "Published: 2009" appear there. Such was my disbelief that I went straight to WorldCat; only after I saw it listed as being held by various libraries around the country (including the mother of them all, Library of Congress) did I dare to hope that I might actually hold a copy within my hands before the end of the week.

And still I dare to hope. Amazon tells me that it was shipped from some wide spot in the road called "Whitestown, Indiana" yesterday morning. It further informs me of an "Arrival Scan" which supposedly took place at 7:17 last night. Arrival where? Not here, my friends! Arrival at the post office? Arrival in Chicago? WHERE IS THIS BOOK? I know, after five years, what's five days? But--well, you know what I'm saying: hkǫbra atxąhe!
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hąpa scece "days lengthen"
mii ḳ'odsi "solitary moon"
mii ḳ'odsi ðįke "moon of idle days"
iwabi/wa-a-bi "planting" (Kanza wabe)
hiuwathixtha žuucapi "sensitive plant reddens" / hlaaska žįka c'eðe "small flowers die"
hcetoka mąnąɣapi/gishĩbi "bulls rut/fatten"
hce ki-the-xa-bi "buffalo rut"
htą mii hpąnalee kše "fall moon first go-back" / tõ mi pa ho gthe kshe / hlaazi broka içi / tabi çpabi "does crouch"
htaa kithixabi "deer rut"
htaa he paaxǫpi "deer shed horns" / mihka kithixabi "raccoons rut"
wasape weetaðapi "bears ?"

  1. miⁿok’aⁿ yíⁿge "month for nothing"
  2. míⁿk’ozhi "not useful"
  3. hoⁿba oscéje "long days"
  4. wábe "planting time"
  5. wawék’acbe "month for acting or working"
  6. cedóⁿga maⁿnaⁿghabe "month when buffalo rut"
  7. cedóⁿga kúyughabe "month when buffalo mate"
  8. ta he baxóⁿbe "month when deer shed horns"
  9. ophaⁿ kúyughabe "month when elks mate"
  10. ta kúyughabe "month when deer mate"
  11. óphaⁿ zhodabe "months when elks puff/snort"
  12. wasábe zhodabe "months when bears puff/snort"
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On the off chance that someone still cares:
ažą mįkše tą ihkiðe ąkšiðe
A1S-sleep A1S.AUX.lying/sitting if/then awake P1S-DAT-CAUS
"If I'm sleeping, do me a favour and wake me up."
Osage, of course. And, on the subject of obscure-ass languages with crazy orthographies, I'm both impressed with the response to my recent bit of comment-whoring (you read me! you really read me!) and taken aback by the demand for Hmong. I do hope tomorrow's article ends up meeting expectations.

Still, I hate to disappoint partisans of Hawai'ian and Hausa (and even those who would've chosen Hungarian had it not been "too obvious"), since heaven knows they're not exactly thick on the ground, so I'll have to find ways of working these into future articles. I've been thinking in terms of a more geographical survey, but I'm afraid that would only expose how much of my collection is devoted to a small corner of the world's largest continent.
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Belatedly, it occurs to me that I'm looking in the wrong place for corroboration in trying to make sense of LaFlesche's vocabulary. I've been using my Lakota/Dakota dictionaries because they're handy, not because the language is particularly close to Osage. They're both members of the Mississippi Valley Branch, but Osage belongs to a southerly grouping called "Dhegiha". Dhegiha consists of three branches: Omaha-Ponca, Osage-Kansa, and Quapaw. And guess what? The Kaw Nation have a lovely website for Kanza that includes online vocabulary lists.

Of course, just because a word is found in Kanza, it's no guarantee that the Osage cognate exists or is in common use. For instance, the Kanza word for "mosquito", yáphoyinge pázota (lit. "sharp-nosed fly") is nothing like the Osage, which is lapxąąke. And even with cognates, there are slight differences, e.g. Kanza shó~mikase hi~ zìhi "coyote" (lit. "yellow fur coyote") vs. Osage šomįhkasi. (This kind of divergence in nasalisation seems especially common. Cf. Kanza mósho~ ~ mósho "feather" vs. Osage mǫšǫ "idem.")

Nevertheless, the Kanza vocabulary preserves many distinctions that LaFlesche mangles or ignores, so it's a useful corrective. (The main shortcoming I've found so far are that Kanza seems to lack phonemic vowel length, something Quintero describes but LaFlesche consistently leaves unmarked.) For instance, Kanza mónga "skunk" suggests that LaFlesche really did transcribe the first vowel correctly and I should be writing mǫka instead of mąka. (Not that it makes an immense difference: The two vowels are very similar and were often confused even by competent Osage speakers.) And it looks like I got the etymology right on "opossum"--but more on that later.
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So I guess I'll be mucking about with Osage for the next little while. I managed not to stay up too terribly late last night, but I'm still not getting the rest I need. Incidentally, here's the gloss to my previous Osage title, which is as true today as it was then:

žįhe ąnąbraži hǫpai waali ąskike
sleep 1P-be.sated.with-NEG today very 1P-tired
"I didn't get enough sleep [and] today I'm very tired."

I composed this spontaneously, so it came out more buggy than usual; this is the corrected version. In particular, I was thrown by the phonological adjustments to the first verb. The stem of "be sated with [something]" is íbrą, but you'll notice the vowels have been taken out by assimilation. First, the first-person patient morpheme |ą| assmilates the initial /i/ to itself (nasalising intervening epenthetic /ð/ in the process), then the negative morpheme overrides final /ą/ with its initial /a/.

I also fixed a stupid mistake in the word for "skunk". What was I thinking? Osage doesn't have any voiced stops outside of the cluster /br/, only lax unaspirated ones. So LaFlesche's "mo˜-ga" can only be mąka, not *mąga. And I wasn't imagining things: The expression "a few days back" was in Quintero after all, on a page I glanced at no fewer than three times that night. (None so blind as those too bleary to see.) It's hǫpai hašihta, lit. "day-this previous".
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Surely there must be some way for me to do Osage without keeping myself up until midnight? If so, I haven't found it yet. Blame my obsessive nature. I spent what seemed like forever paging through Quintero trying to uncover the term for "a few days ago" that I knew I'd seen somewhere, but if it hadn't been that, I'm sure it would've been something else.

But I got your answer, [ profile] innerdoggie! It's always a tricky business trying to turn LaFlesche's dated, sloppy, Omaha-influenced transcriptions into proper modern Osage, but I think his "mo˜-ga" equates to mąka. I'm encouraged by finding maka "skunk, polecat" in my Lakota dictionary. This polysemy might explain the byform "mo˜-ga gthe-çe" in LaFlesche, where gthe-çe (mod. leze) is a word meaning "spotted, streaked, striped".

So let's go with mąkaleze, since that has a pleasant feel to it. As long as I was messing around, I decided to construct a more elabourate sentence, incorporating the word LaFlesche gives for "opossum" as well. It's probably the longest sentence I've ever constructed in Osage, which means it's got to be erroneous somewhere!

hąkaaši ðaha aalee aha sįešta ðe iiðaðe ną aži hceka mąkaleze iiðaðeðe

night-3SA-late when 1Sa-SUUS-go whenever opossum MOV PREV-1Sa-see ITER NEG new skunk PREV-1Sa-see-DECL

"When I return home late at night, I often see a possum stirring, but recently I saw a skunk."

Notes: hąkaaši ðaha, glossed as "late at night", is actually a temporal clause, i.e. "when (ðaha) the night (hąą) gets late (kaaši). hceka is an adjective meaning "new" here used adverbially, i.e. "newly, recently". There must be a better way of introducing contrast here than using aži "or; but", but I haven't learned it yet.
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Novice language freaks generally seem pretty exicited when they discover evidentiality. Imagine, a mandatory inflection indicating the speaker's basis for knowledge! How many disputes would that solve before they begin? Inevitably, some recommend that evidentials should be adopted in their native languages.

It only takes a moment's reflection to see the flaws in this argument. It's not like we don't already have ways of expressing evidentiality in English and experience shows how likely people are to use them to misrepresent (intentionally or not) the basis for their claims. There's simply no way to mandate objectivity in speech, no matter how you go about it. Even a category like "established fact" is so inherently subjective that it alone is fodder for endless metadebates.

And even if you could somehow enforce use of the categories, they wouldn't necessarily mean the same thing. In her chapter on evidentiality in The languages of Native America (Cambridge, 1999), Marianne Mithun points out that, even though both Mohawk and Inuit distinguish "hearsay" information from "direct experience", they aren't necessarily valued the same: The Yup'ik speakers tend to assign more credibility to "hearsay"-marked statements than the Mohawk, since they represent the experience of more than just a single member of the community.

She presents an interesting example for the elabourate system of Central Pomo:
  1. čʰé mul=ʔma "It rained" (established fact)
  2. čʰé mul=ya "It rained" (eyewitness)
  3. čʰé mul=ʔdo "It rained" (hearsay)
  4. čʰé mul=nme "It rained" (auditory evidence)
  5. čʰé mul=ʔka "It rained" (inference)

This encouraged me to attempt to construct a similar set of contrasts for Osage. (Note that I'm not sure how correct these are; in particular, I wonder if I should've used the continuative apa "moving; absent; out of sight" for all sentences except the first.):
  1. nížu akxai "It is/was raining" (simple declarative)
  2. nížu akxa che "It is/was raining" (evidential)
  3. nížu akxa aape "(They said) it is/was raining" (reportative)
  4. nížu akxa ska "I suppose it is/was raining" (suppositive)

"Evidential" for sentence-final che (in the second sentence) is Quintero's gloss. Technically speaking, I guess she considers the other distinctions epistemic modalities rather than "evidentials" in the strict sense. This is reasonable since its usage appears to cover that of categories (4) and (5) from the Central Pomo example and may overlap with (1) as well depending on what the criteria are for considering something an "established fact". That is--as near as I can tell from her examples--seeing the effects of rain (such as puddles) or hearing it fall without seeing it or being in it are both situations which would demand the Osage evidential. That is, if any situations demand it at all. She never says outright that these inflections are compulsory; given the stage of language obsolescence at the time of her fieldwork, it may well have been impossible to tell.

I'm not sure what kind of inflectional epistemic modality is found in other Siouan languages (Dhegiha or otherwise). FWIW, the etymological origin of the Osage suffixes seems pretty transparent. Che is identical to the inanimate "standing" positional article (e.g. mãhkásai che "that coffee standing there [in a pot]"), so the origin might be something like "[the fact] stands [that]" preceded by a nominalisation of the clause. Aape is a third-person plural form of the verb ee "say, tell" (i.e. ee-api-ðe "say-PL-DECL" > eeapie [ð-deletion] > aape [vowel assimilation]). Ska is identical to the adjective meaning "white; clear", so I conjecture an origin like "It is clear [that]" with a nominalised clause. Given all this, the whole system could be of relatively recent vintage.
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Many years ago now, I spent a chunk of my free time helping the friendly Basque organiser of the GeoNative web site research some of the more obscure minority languages of the world. In particular, I scoured the Amerind dictionaries of the Reg ferretting out native names of American geographical features. I was happy to do it, though I didn't foresee that my credit would mean several years of complete strangers contacting me for help with languages I knew next to nothing about.

It's nice to see he still has the site going, even if some features (like the clunky ASCII-based respellings) haven't aged so well. In fact, I'd like to update it with some Osage names, though I'd first like see Quintero's dictionary so I can get the spellings right. (I have to say, LaFlesche's orthography really drives me batty. The whole practice of separating each syllable with hyphens, e.g. I'n-ba-pa-we-tsi'n for a name Quintero would write ?įįpahpawachį, simply smacks so heavily of cheesy summer camps and aging tourist traps that it gives me hives.)

So far, I've had particular success in identifying river names. Perhaps because the Osage are relatively latecomers to the area (they may have migrated from the Ohio Valley as late as the 16th century), these tend to be simple and transparent. So far I have:

Níišoce ["water-smoky"] the Missouri River (probably a reference to its siltiness; LaFlesche adds that the name of Kansas City is Níišoce htãwã "Missouri Town")
Níihtãhka ["water-big"] the Mississippi River
Níižuuce ["water-red"] the Red River or Arkansas River
Níižuucehtãka ["water-red-big"] the Arkansas River
Níižuucehžĩka ["water-red-little"] the Little Arkansas River
Níibraska ["water-flat"] the Platte River (points for recognising that the French name is a translation of the Siouan; you can imagine how I squealed when I recognised this as the origin of the name of Nebraska)
?Níiožo the Neosho River ("water-clear" according to Wikipedia, but I've been unable to confirm the second element; LaFlesche spells it u-zhu and glosses it "main, principal")
Níiska ["water-white"] the Little Osage River (Quintero points out that ska is also used for "clear" when speaking of water, speech, etc.)
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As it continues to rain outside (for real this time, not some pretend sprinkle), I find myself wondering what connection, if any, there may be between Osage nížu "rain" and níi "water". Or between the latter and níiõpapa "lightning". I guess there's no way of knowing without getting my hands on a comparative dictionary of Proto-Siouan or the like.

Níi, btw, shows up in some surprising compounds such as níixoce "ash" (lit. "water-gray") and níiskuðe "salt" (lit. "water-sweet"; go ponder that for a while!). By contrast, níišoce "fog, haze" (lit. "water-smoke") makes more sense, but it's interesting to me that none of these actually denotes a fluid.

Contrast that to, say, Thai compounds headed by ná:m (generally reduced to nám), e.g. námka:m "semen" (lit. "water [of] kama"; also ná:mrák "water [of] love"), námphŷng "honey" (lit. "water [of] bee"), ná:msàlàt "salad dressing; mayo" (lit. "water [of] salad"), etc. Even namta:n "sugar" (lit. "water [of] sugar palm") makes sense once you consider how palm sugar is boiled down from sap. Námwă:n or "sweet water" also means more-or-less what you'd expect, namely "soft drink".

On the other hand Osage hpéecenii or "fire-water" does mean "whiskey", exactly as watching TV Westerns has led you to expect. (Beer, on the other hand, is hkáwacéženii "horse-pee-water".)
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nížu akai
"it's raining"

Not a heavy rain, though, like the one I got caught in Thursday morning, but something more like a kind of heavy condensation: You walk a few feet and gradually notice that water is beading on your glasses and clothes.

I realise full well that I'm obsessing about Osage right now; such is my way. I also realise that the best thing to do is simply run with it, hoping I garner enough from my studies over the next couple weeks that when I pick it up again six months to a year from now, I'll have actually retain more than I did before this last go. It's both a relief and a torture to find out that Quintero sent her dictionary to the publisher last December; a relief because I'm tired of working from the couple-page wordlist I've managed to squeeze out of her book, a torture because of course I want my copy NOW and can't figure out what's taking so goddamn long.

Maybe I'll fill the void by breaking my Wikipedia cherry and writing up a proper article on Osage Language for them.

It's all made worse by the fact that I did something nasty to my back last week (don't ask me how) and have had to cope with limited mobility. I did make it out a couple times last week (thanks again, [ profile] vianegativa, for throwing that restaurant trip together) but I paid for it each time and decided that holing up for the weekend was the sane, adult choice. At least I got me some movies in:

The pillow book: Worked better on the small screen than I thought it might; with all the screen-in-screen, I worried it would be a cramped mess on [ profile] monshu's TV, but not so much. I mean, it was a mess, but in that different way you've come to expect from Greenaway.

Km. 0: Yawn. What was that I said about modern gay movies having no recognisable human characters?

Fire Earnest in that groundbreaking-lesbian-film sort of way, but still quite watchable. A couple more musical numbers wouldn't have hurt none, of course. I'm still amazed it made it past the censors not once but twice.
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waðáhkištõpapi hkõbra
wa-á-Ya-hkik-Ya-tõpe-api Wa-kõ-Wa-da
P1P-LOC-A2S-REFL-A2S-look-PL A1S-PREV-A1S-want
"I want you to look down upon us."

I've been trying to give examples from Osage to illustrate various linguistic phenomena lately and, unfortunately, I've been screwing some of them up. This entry should help by serving as a quick reminder of a couple of things: (1) patient personal prefixes precede agent prefixes; (2) the reflexive prefix is hkik (as opposed to suus kik and dative ki) and it takes agent inflection independent of the main verb; (3) tõpe "see" is a fortisizing stop stem.

The title, btw, translates as "I am going to remember it". (kisúðe, an active transitive verb with lexicalised dative ki, which doesn't fortisize or contract.)
muckefuck: (Default)
It's been too long since I've done any Osage. I realised this yesterday when I tried to present some examples from it and flubbed not only the conjugation of a verb (which is understandable, given that even Quintero equivocates regarding its inflectional class) but even the word order within the predicate, which is as strict as an Irish nun. So, as penance, I stayed up too late reviewing and eventually put together the following sentence:
ãmãbrĩ alee íbrilã ãtxãhai "I think I'll walk home"
Nothing really special about it--all the unusual features are ones I've discussed here before--I just like the way it sounds. Also, it's kind of neat that all four words are verbals, each one inflected for person. One-by-one they are:

ãmãbrĩ [Wa-mã-Wa-ðĩ] "I walk" (This was the problem verb from the other day. It took a lot of paging around to confirm that it was, in fact, a doubly-inflecting, syncopating verb.)

alee [Wa-kik-ðee] "I go home" (The motion verb "go-there" with a suus infix, yielding the meaning "go back to one's own". I never get tired of these!)

íbrilã [i-Wa-ðilã] "I think about, I wish (to)" (The collapse of the first three syllables down to two shifts the accent, which normally falls on the second syllable of verb, on to the first in this case.)

ãtxãhai [ãtxãhe ðe] (A positional auxiliary indicating a first-person subject that is [literally] standing or [metaphorically] on the verge of undertaking some action.)

You can see why I opted for the free translation I did. Other formulations foregrounding different nuances of the Osage sentence are possible, such as "I'm standing here thinking I'd rather walk home" or "I'd like to walk back now".
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After work, I swung by Thai Pastry for hostess gifts and a take-out dinner of red curry duck. I couldn't resist getting a Thai custard for dessert. (After all, what is it really but flan made from coconut milk?) Apparently, it contained raw opium, because with each bite I was overwhelmed with the urge to take another as sson as possible, without even giving myself time to savour the previous one.

My weekend itinerary is packed, because it doesn't matter how briefly I'm visiting, I still have to make time to see everyone. (And one big outing or dinner won't do either; everyone needs their individual face time.) It will be good to see Grandma, because, although it's always been true she could go any time, now it's especially true. And I can't wait to find out if my nephews remember me or if, once more, Mommy has to explain who the strange man around the house is. (Or more likely, which strange man is which, since the two nuncles from out of town don't make enough effort to differentiate themselves.)

e. has threatened to banish [ profile] bunj to the backseat since I'm bringing along some RPG crap to talk to him about. I have Rulfo for my reading, but somehow I doubt that I'll ever get to it, or my Chinese homework, although my insanely belated Economist (received only yesterday) will probably get pulled out at some point.

hapai šoto htąwą alee hta ąðįhe
day-this Chouteau town I-VERT.-go.there FUT I-move.AUX
"Today I'm going back to St. Louis."

Notes: )
muckefuck: (Default)
The Challenge: Come up with translations of "If you want to live here, learn the language!" in Amerind languages for deployment against English Only wingnuts.

My Pathetic Attempt: ðe mąžą ðalįį škǫštapi tą ie špižǫǫ

Rough pronunciation guide: /ðe 'mãʒã ða'lį: 'ʃkõʃtapi tã 'ie 'ʃpiʒõ:/

Rough gloss: this land A2P-sit/dwell A2P-want-PL if speech A2P-learn-IMP

  1. The verb lįį can mean "sit" or "dwell", so I thought a literal translation of "here" might be too ambiguous. I figure saying "this land" should clarify things.
  2. ie can mean "speak" as well as "speech" or "language", so I suppose the reading "learn to speak!" is possible. I'm not sure how to disambiguate this command. I could add a plural particle, but it would probably be interpreted as applying to the subject (as in the first clause, i.e. škǫštapi "y'all want") rather than the object.
  3. As cool as it is, I will refrain from pointing out the double person marking on both main verbs just this once.
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Not half an hour after my previous post, I found confirmation of a suspicion I scarcely dared harbour: Use of a continuative auxiliary with a form of kõða and an embedded verb!

Let me break this down a bit: Osage uses a series of conjugated auxiliaries to mark continuative aspect. The form is something like the English progressive (e.g. "I'm typing it up") in that it expresses continuance of an activity over a period of time. What's most interesting about these auxiliaries is that they reflect the position of the subject at the time the action took place.

For instance, the sentence wabraahtã mĩkše is glossed as "I'm sitting here drinking", mĩkše being the auxiliary that expresses "I'm sitting (or lying) down as I do this". If I were moving about, however, I'd use ãã(ðĩ)he; for standing, atxãhe. These are only the primary meanings, however. The "moving about" auxiliaries also imply that the action has been taking place for some time. wabraahtã ããhe usually corresponds to English "I've been drinking". "Standing" implies immediancy, such as being about to start doing something. So wabraahtã atxãhe for "I'm about to start drinking".

So what? So let's go back to our monster predicate ðahkišpižõ škõšta. As it stands, it's unmarked for tense or aspect. It could mean "You want to learn it for yourself" as well as "You wanted to learn it for yourself". That's why I keep supplying glosses like "you want/ed [it]"; without additional particles or context, the form is ambiguous as to time. Tacking on a continuative axiliary adds some clarification. So now we have:
ðahkišpižõ škõšta ðaĩše "You have been wanting to learn it for yourself"
Sextuply inflected? I think I can make a case for double inflection in ðaĩše. Note the first-person forms, ãã(ðĩ)he and ãkaðe (singular and plural, respectively). There's a change not only in the prefix, but in the stem as well--and as we've seen, š is a common variant of the second-person agent prefix. That would make for a grand total of seven agent inflections in a single verbal complex.

Now I'm going to quit while I'm ahead (or ludicrously over-the-top, depending on how you look at it).
muckefuck: (Default)
I confess: Another reason why I got so little sleep last night is that I was playing with Osage again. I couldn't help it; I'd stopped for a few days because it was distracting me from my Chinese, but I really wanted to plunge deeper into the verbal system. Are you ready for my report of the abyss staring back?

Of course, everyone remembers my excitement at the discovery of doubly-inflected verbs like kõða "he wants/wanted [it]", second person škõšta "you want/ed [it]". Last night, I discovered that the reflexive/reciprocal infix hkik also takes agent inflection, giving it the ability to create triply-inflected verbs.

You know about reflexives; they add to a verb the sense of doing something to or for oneself. Stick it into špižõ "you learn/ed [it]" (ž and š being both marked allomorphs of the second person active agent prefix) and you reach the giddy heights of ðahkišpižõ "you learn/ed [it] for yourself" (ða being the default form of this prefix--isn't allomorphy a gas?).

But is this the highest we can go? No way, baby!

Strictly speaking, Osage has no infinitive (although the unmarked third-person singular form is occasionally used as one). In complex predicates, speakers often inflect both verbs. In itself, this isn't the least bit usual. Many Balkan languages also lack infinitives or use them very seldom, preferring subordinate constructions. So whereas a Spanish speaker would say Quieres aprenderlo? "Do you want to learn it?", encoding the subject only once (i.e. -es), a Rumanian would say something like vrei să învăţezi'l--literally "Do you want that you learn it?" That is, both the verb a vrea "to want" and a învăţa "to learn" are inflected for a second-person subject. An Osage speaker, with her doubly-inflecting verbs, would see the Romanian and raise him twofold. In špižõ škõšta agent inflection appears twice on each verb for a grand total of four times. Combine this with my new discovery of the behaviour of hkik and you arrive at the glorious apotheosis:
ðahkišpižõ ššta
There it is: A single predicate quintuply inflected for agent! Compare the first-person singular version, ahkihpimõ hbra "I want to learn it for myself". Have you ever seen anything so beautiful? Lesser languages, look upon these works and despair!

(I must go; tears are welling up in my eyes!)


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