The consonants are ch, h, k, kw, l, m, n, p, s, sh, t, tl, ts, w, x, y, '.
They are pronounced like their English equivalents, with a few exceptions:
/s/ is always hard, as in song.
/tl/ is one sound. It is pronounced as in "hotline" but with the tip of the tongue being pressed against the palate. When it is in final position, it sounds a little like "ch", for the /l/ is never vocalized in Saiwosh.
/x/ is the sound of Spanish j or Welsh ch. It is pronounced like an h, but with the tongue retracted towards the back of the mouth.
/'/ is a "glottal stop", as in "oh-oh" or in the
Cockney pronunciation of the "t" of "Gatwick".
It is only heard between vowels, as in
na ish (my father) and saxli'a (top), and also
between a consonant and a vowel: chak'ilahiston (brick). It is
written only inside a word. It is also used to indicate that an s
followed by an h must not be pronounced like the digraph sh:
hayas'hit (tower, big house) from hayas (big) and hit (house). It is a weak sound, which never occurs at the end of a word.
Like its North Western Amerindian ancestors, Saiwosh is tolerant of heavy consonant clusters, especially initial ones. However, double consonants are always reduced: postan nem (American name) is pronounced, and often written, postanem.
Occasionally, a really difficult consonant cluster will occur. Usually, it will be reduced to something easier to pronounce: for instance, achisht pchax (artistic green) is reduced to achishchax in ordinary conversation.
Some initial consonant clusters, like tk in tkop (white) occur in only one word. But the initial cluster tk also occurs in fusional words like tkik (birch) from tkopstik (Literally: white tree). A Saiwosh word beginning with tk always refers to something white. Similarly, the cluster xl, at the beginning of a word, is usually (but not always) a reduction of the word xlowima (other), as in xlam (foreign tribe or people) from xlowimatilxam (Literally: other people).
The five vowels, /a, e, i, o, u/ are usually pronounced as in pat, pet, pit, paw, put. Their timbre can vary greatly, but unlike their English counterparts they do not have off-glides, even in open syllables.
Saiwosh has two diphthongs /ai/ and /au/ which are pronouced as in high and how.
Saiwosh speakers use a metronomic pronunciation which gives nearly equal stress, loudness and duration to every syllable. All questions drop at the end, in exactly the same way as statements. Special emphasis on a word is achieved by pronouncing it more slowly than the rest of the sentence, or, more emphatically, by repeating it:
Pus mumlus, mumlus hul!
The cat KILLED a mouse!!!
There is a continuity between the innumerable varieties of Chinook Jargon and Saiwosh. Any text in Chinook Jargon is easy to understand for a Saiwosh speaker, but the reverse is not true. Saiwosh Chinuk is Chinook Jargon spoken with a Saiwosh pronunciation. Shama Chinuk is Settlers' Jargon, whose pronunciation is heavily influenced by English and French, with blurred unstressed vowels and /kl/ instead of /tl/. The voiced consonants /b/, /d/, /g/ and /dZ/ also occur. Conversely, /x/ is rare. Settlers' Jargon speakers commonly say klosh tilik@m instead of tlosh tilxam, lamonti instead of lamotai (mountain, from the French la montagne).
Saiwosh and Saiwosh Chinuk are choppy and guttural, unlike Shama Chinuk. A harsh pronunciation is a common characteristic of North-West Amerindian languages, and Saiwosh is definitely Amerindian. The harshest sounding words are those of Klallam origin, which didn't exist in Chinook Jargon.
In Saiwosh Chinuk and Shama Chinuk, intonation alone is enough to turn a statement into a question, contrary to Saiwosh usage.
Click here for examples of historic Saiwosh Chinuk stories. These texts show how Chinook Jargon was actually pronounced by its Native American users.
There is no clean-cut distinction between verbal, nominal and adjectival
root-words in Saiwosh. Necessary distinctions are achieved by the use of
prefixes and other modifiers.
A root-word like potlach was both nominal and verbal in
Chinook Jargon: naika potlach meant either I give and
my gift. Saiwosh, on the other hand, distinguishes between
na upotlach, I give and na apotlach, my gift.
The language being very close to its Chinook Jargon parent,
na potlach still means both I give and
my gift... and my
potlatch, a festival of North-Western
Amerindians. But the Saiwosh word for
potlatch is lipotlach.
Therefore, a sentence like I give a present for the potlach is unambiguously rendered thus:
Na upotlach apotlach kopa lipotlach.
Actual speakers wouldn't bother themselves with a sentence in which the same root-stem occurs three times. They would say:
Na upotlach ikta kopa lipotlach.
I give something for the potlach.
Chinook Jargon speakers wouldn't have been embarrassed by such a simple sentence either, in spite of its potential ambiguities. They would have said something like:
Naika potlach ikta kopa potlach
I give thing(s) to (the) giving (festival)
Some compound words are as old as Chinook Jargon:
Kanimstik, cedar Literally: canoe-wood)
A verb has to be nominalized to be used as a non-final element of a compound:
Chai, to work. Achai, (a, the) work
Achaiman, worker. Achaitu, workplace
Verbs are not nominalized when they are followed by two nouns in the same compound word:
Literally: take fish man
Like many other Amerindian languages, Saiwosh is a fusional language:
wehat (road) + chik (wheel) = wehachik, vehicle.
tilxam (people, tribe, family) + wehachik = tilxamwehachik, bus, coach, but tilxamwehachik is usually reduced to tilwechik, which is the usual word:
Oma kapam tlatwa an kopa tilwechik.
You can go to town by bus.
Tilwechik is itself reduced in a number of words:
tilwepaman, bus-passenger, for tilwechik'atlatwapepaman
tiltwatola, bus-fare, for tilwechik'atlatwatola
tiltoman, seller of bus-tickets, for tilwechik'atlatwapepamakukman; the complete full word would be tilxamwehatchik'atlatwapepamakukman, which is much too long to be really usable.
The meaning of reduced (fusional) words is not always easy to guess; they have to be learnt one by one. Every language has its difficulties. Saiwosh, in spite of its consonant clusters, is rather easy to pronounce, its morphology and syntax are simple and straightforward, but its vocabulary is opaque: tilwepaman, bus-passenger and tiltwatola, bus-fare, are enigmatic to someone who never rode a bus. Yet, he would understand that tilwepaman refers to a person (final element man) and tiltwatola refers to money (final element tola). If the bus-driver tells him:
Tiltwatola yaka kwinam tatlam sent kopa tilwepaman halo muntiltwape.
The bus-fare is fifty cents for passengers without a monthly pass.
(Muntiltwape stands of course for muntilxamwehachiktlatwapepa!)
Our friend, who has to travel by bus for the first time in his life, will at least comprehend:
(...) money is fifty cents for (...) person without (...).
He doesn't know what a muntiltwape is, but he's sure he hasn't got one. Therefore, he gives fifty pence to the bus-driver. Next time, he'll know that tiltwatola is the sum of money he has to pay to ride a bus.
When there is no Saiwosh word available to express a concept, like pickup truck or subliminal, and it is not possible to take time to devise a Saiwosh equivalent, for instance in the course of conversation, Saiwosh speakers do what their Chinook linguistic ancestors did: they borrow a word from another language, usually English or French.
A problem arises, though: because of Saiwosh peculiar phonology, the borrowed word may not be immediately recognizable. Thus pick up truck comes out as pikaptlak. There are two possibilities, then:
1. Both interlocutors know the English word pickup truck, and the context makes any ambiguity impossible:My brother has a pickup truck.
Saiwosh has many words which are made of two elements: a foreign one, incomprehensible in isolation to a monolingual Saiwosh speaker, and a Saiwosh suffix or root-word which outlines its meaning:
chanmun = Jan (for Jan-uary) + mun (month).
Quarter (fraction): kwotaskus
kwotaskus = quarter + skus (part)
As in many native languages of the American North-West, reduplication is used to make diminutives:
kala kala little bird
But there are exceptions:
There were many reduplicated words in Chinook Jargon. Most of them have been reduced in Saiwosh:
huyihuyi bargain, barter, trade (Chinook Jargon)
huyi bargain, barter (Saiwosh)
Saiwosh pronouns do not exactly correspond to English or French pronouns. The only demonstrative of the language, ok/okok, is a pronoun / pronominal adjective. Tlaksta, which means who or whom, is also technically a pronoun, and is often used as a "fourth person" pronoun.
|Short form||Long form|
The second person pronouns oma/omaika and omsa/omsaika were ma/maika and msa/msaika in Saiwosh Chinuk; the o is a vocative prefix: oma (singular) is, literally, oh you. The new second person pronouns were generalized to avoid confusion with the phonetically similar first person pronouns.
The fourth person pronoun possessive is tlakswan, a reduction of tlaksta tuwan, who own(s).
Some exemples of the use of tlaksta:
John saw Paul on the road. He (John) wanted to talk to him (Paul), but he (Paul) just walked away with his (Paul's) dog.
Chon chi nanich Pol kopa wehat. Ya stle uwo kopa tlaksta, tawau tlaksta tilet tlatwa saya asam tlakswan kamuks.
In the preceding sample, ya will always refer to John, and tlaksta to Paul. If other people intervene, for example Jim (Chim) and Richard (Lichat), things will become more complicated, and pronouns are less likely to be used:
When he (John) told Jim and Richard what he (Paul) had done, Jim just laughed and Richard said nothing.
Kansi ya uwo kopa Chim pi Lichat okok tlaksta munk, Chim kopet muhihi pi Lichat uwo halo.
The long form of pronouns is the original one:
He (is) a doctor
(It is) him (who) is running
Chon nanich yaka tmola
John will see him tomorrow
Longs pronouns are used when they are the object of a sentence, and when they are independent words:
Man chi nanich naika
A man saw me
Naika, na tiki piya
Me, I like beer
Short pronouns are used when they are the subject of a verb or the possessor of something:
Na tiki piya
I like beer
No word can be inserted between a short pronoun and the word or nominal unit it modifies:
Chon ya toktin
(Literally: John his doctor)
Chon ya tlosh toktin
John's good doctor
Tlosh toktin is a single nominal unit.
Chon yaka hayu tlosh toktin
John's very good doctor
The adverb is dictinct from the nominal unit. Therefore, the short pronoun ya cannot be used here, the long pronoun yaka is the correct form.
Yaka chi kuli
He has just run
Chi is an adverb, distinct from the verb.
Chi ya kuli
He has just run
This is the usual, idiomatic expression.
Saiwosh Chinuk uses the short pronouns rather infrequently; Shama Chinuk never uses them.
Olman chi mumlus yaka swaika
The old man killed himself
Olman chi mumlus yaka
The old man killed him ( = someone else)
It is used for the third person only:
Na nanich naika kopa oma siyaxost
I see myself (Literally: me) in your eyes
A is a Tlingit word, which means thing or it. Li
is a French definite article, which is frequent in words borrowed from the French
language, like lima, hand, and liplet, priest. In
Saiwosh, those two words have become nominalizing prefixes. A has also
retained its original meaning as an independent word:
Aki oma nanich a?
Do you see it?
Examples of nominal derivatives:
Liskukum, reign, dominance
Chai, to work
Achai, a/the work
Lichai, man-made object
Li- words usually have more material or less abstract meanings than a- words.
Saiwosh has no definite or indefinite article (English the, a, an and it does not mark words for singular or plural. Kayush can mean a horse, the horse, horses, the horses, depending on the context. Modifiers like nan (some, several), hayu (many, much), tenyu (few, a little), and ixt (one) are used when the speaker deems it necessary to state number or quantity.
Possession can be expressed in various ways in Saiwosh:
4.3.2 Insertion of a possessive pronoun:
Kayush ya latet
Literally: horse his head
4.3.3 Insertion of mitlait (belong) or mi (of):
Latet mitlait kayush
Literally: head belong horse
Kayush mi naika
Horse of me
Mi is a Saiwosh innovation, an abbreviation of mitlait. Chinook Jargon only had mitlait.
4.3.4. To have
Na tuwan kayush
I have a horse
Literally: I possess horse
Kayush mitlait naika
I have a horse
Literally: horse stays (by) me
Tuwan is never used when one talks about people:
Ixt yit pi hayu sixs mitlait naika
I have a son and many friends
Saiwosh has four verbalizing prefixes: u and munk / mu,
U is a Tlingit verb which means to use. In Saiwosh, it is still a verb, but it is more often a verbalizing prefix:
Wo, a word
Uwo, to say, to speak.
Na u na wehachik konawesan.
I use my car everyday.
Munk means to do or to make. Mu is the same word, shortened:
Hihi, laughter; muhihi, to laugh.
Munk / mu also has a causative meaning:
Munkwim, to fell (a tree). Literally: to make a tree be fallen.
Mutlatwa, to make go, to send.
Several prefixes can be used on the same root-word:
Amutlatwa, a sending, a shipment
Chako means to come or to become. It has been used as a verbal prefix since Chinook Jargon days:
Chakowim, to fall.
The verb munk (to do, to make) transforms a
verb into a causative:
Na munktlatwa yaka kopa an
I send him to the town
This is distinct from:
Na munk yaka tlatwa an
I make him go to the town
Tenses and modes are expressed by the context and by adverbs:
Alta na tlatwa
I go now, I am going
Alki na tlatwa
I shall go
Chi na tlatwa
I have just gone
Chi, ikta oma munk kopa naika?
What have you done for me lately?
Ankati na tlatwa
I went (some time ago)
Spos na kapam, alta na tlatwa
I would go if I could
Literally: If I can, then I go
It will soon be night-time
Literally: Night soon
It is not idiomatic to use the verb ti (to be)
too often in Saiwosh. A long pronoun is used instead:
I am a red-haired man
Chon yaka tlelyaksoman
John is a black-haired man
Literally: John him black-hair-man
Achai kopa hit, okok tlosh
Working at home is good
Literally: Work in house, that (is) good
There is no true passive in Saiwosh. It is normally expressed by fronting
Hul pus umak
The mouse is being eaten by the cat
Literally: Mouse cat eats
Several verbs may be used in a single sentence:
Na stle tlatwa umak kopa Chon
I want (to) go (to) eat at John's
Na stle omaika chai
I want you to work
Negation and affirmation are expressed by the adverbs
wek and nawitka:
Wek oma tlatwa an tmola
You won't go to town tomorrow
Yes I will!
Aha, wek na tlatwa
No I won't
Literally: Yes, I don't go
Words like tlosh (good) and tilet (straight)
are adjectival root-words.
Adjectives always precede their complement:
Tluchman asam mokst tatlam kol
A twenty year old woman
Literally: A woman with twenty years
Chakup hayas mokst met
A two metre tall man
A noun becomes an adjectives when it precedes another noun:
A human habitation
Since there is no real difference between adjectives and instransitive verbs, adjectives are preceded by short pronouns, like verbs:
He (is) strong
6.1.2 Derived Adjectives
22.214.171.124 The prefixes halo and wek
Halo is a privative prefix:
An uninhabited country
Altasan naika halotola, tawau tmola naika hayutola
Today I am penniless, but tomorrow I will be rich ("many dollars")
Wek is a negative prefix:
Oma achai yaka wektlosh
Your work is no good
Halo, wek and hayu are adverbs when they are single words. That is why they are preceded by long pronouns even when they are used as prefixes.
126.96.36.199 The suffix nax
The suffix nax converts a noun or a verb into an adjective:
Ya tlel yakso tlatwa. Na tiki ya tlatwanax tlel yakso
Her black hair is moving (Literally: going). I like her moving black hair.
A winding (Literally: snake-like) river
Adjectives can be used as adverbs:
Tlosh ya chai
He works well
The word metot (method, manner) is also an adverbial suffix:
Oma hit man tloshmetot munk
Your house is well-built
Saiwosh is very straightforward and simple in this respect:
Ok tenasman yaka tatlam mokst kol
This boy is twelve years old
Literally: this boy him ten two year
Yaka taxam lipi
He is six foot tall
Literally: him six foot
Na kanim yutlikat tatlam lipi
My canoe is ten foot long
Literally: my canoe long ten foot
Saiwosh has prepositions but no postpositions. The most frequently used are
kopa to, at, in, for
mi of, in (shortened form of mitlait)
mitlait of (Literally: belong, stay with)
saku for (the benefit of)
Kopa, used as a suffix, converts any other word into a preposition:
Saxlikopa (above, on, upon), from saxli, high + kopa.
Prepositions may be omitted if the context permits it:
Chi ya upotlach kayush naika
He gave me a horse
Kopa also means "in someone's home":
Chi ntsa umak kimtasan kopa naika.
We dined in my home.
Literally: Recently we eat after-day at me.
Verbalized nouns are often used as prepositions:
Sxiyan side, flank
It is more idiomatic to use the short form of pronouns with prepositions, since they are in the same class of words than the verbs:
Na asam omaika
I (am) with you
Naika asam omaika
Me, I am with you
Word order is mainly SVO (subject-verb-object):
Pus umak hul
The cat is eating the mouse
Adjectives precede nouns, and adverbs either precede or follow verbs:
Tkop kayush kuli hayak
The white horse is running fast
The OSV (object-subject-verb) word order is much less frequent. It expresses not only the passive, but also a wide range of nuances, depending on the context: irony, indignation, amusement, etc:
Na sixs ya uwo ya ti.
My friend he said he was.
The same sentence, with the "normal" word order is merely declarative:
Ya uwo ya ti na sixs.
He said he was my friend.
The word which the speaker wishes to stress is repeated at the beginning of the sentence:
Yaka, ya uwo ya ti na sixs
HE said he was my friend (but I didn't)
Uwo, ya uwo ya ti na sixs
He SAID he was my friend (don't believe him)
Naika, ya uwo ya ti na sixs
He said he was MY friend (not someone else's).
Sixs, ya uwo ya ti na sixs
He said he was my FRIEND (not a stranger)
Word order is VOS (verb-object-subject) in some compound words:
Literally: build house man
The word aki at the beginnning, or near the beginning, of a sentence,
transforms a statement into a question:
Chon ya wehachik tlaksta tkop
John's car is white
Aki Chon ya wehachik tlaksta tkop?
Is John's car white?
Is that you, Richard?
Wikna ("isn't it so") is used after a statement to transform it into a question:
Okok oma wehachik, wikna?
This is your car, isn't it?
Questions-words are positioned at the beginning of a sentence. Word order is not modified:
Ka na kayush mitlait?
Where is my horse?
Question words are also used as relative pronouns, as in English and French:
Na kamtaks ka na tlatwa
I know where I'm going
Tlaksta uwo okok? Tluchman tlaksta kamataks ili
Who said so? A woman who knows the country
When two adjacent nouns refer to the same entity, the verb ti
(to be) is inserted between them:
An ti Tolonto
The city of Toronto
Chon ti toktin
John the doctor
Saiwosh uses the resumptive pronoun tlaksta (which/who/whom)
in relative clauses. The noun which is modified by the relative clause always
occurs at the beginning of the sentence:
Kayush tlaksta oma upotlach naika tlaksta hayu hayak
The horse that you gave me is very fast
Literally: Horse which you give me, which very fast
Man tlaksta na nanich talkisan tlaksta yakwa
The man whom I saw yesterday is here
Literally: Man whom I see yesterday, who is-here
Okok, when it is used as a conjunction, turns a phrase into the equivalent
of a noun:
That your cat eats mice is good
Oma pus umak hul okok tlosh.
Literally: Your cat eats mice (and) that-thing (is) good
It is good that your cat eats mice
Tlosh okok oma pus umak hul
Literally: Good that-thing (which is) your cat eats mice
I want you to finish your work
Na stle okok oma ukopet achai
Literally: I want that-thing: you finish (your) work
Okok is sometimes omitted:
Na stle oma ukopet achai
Ya uwo (okok) ya ti na sixs
He said (that) he was my friend
8.6 INDIRECT STYLE
The indirect style is simple in Saiwosh:
He told me that he saw you in John's car yesterday
Ya uwo naika okok, ya nanich omaika mi Chon ya wehachik talkisan
Literally: He tell me that-thing, he see you in John his car yesterday
|twenty-three||mokst tatlam tlon|
|two hundred and three||mokst tak tlon|
|three hundred and forty-five||tlon tak lokit taxam kwinam|
|two thousand||mokst tatlatak|
|billion (109)||tatlatak milyon|
|twenty-third||mokst tatlam tloni|
|two hundred and third||mokst tak tloni|
|three hundred and forty-fifth||tlon tak lokit taxam kwinami|
|two thousandth||mokst tatlataki|
Telephone numbers and other serial numbers are given as series of digits.
When two identical digits follow one another, the second identical digit
is replaced by the word wext (again):
ixt stotkin kwaist sinam
ixt kwaist wext kwaist
mokst halo wext mokst
Sitkam kilo kosho
A half kilo (=a pound) of pork
Tlam yaka tatlataki skus mi kilo
A gram is a thousandth of a kilo
Literally: Gram it (is) thousandth part of kilo
Saiwosh speakers greet each other by saying Tlahauya!, which is derived
from the word tlahauyam, which means poor. It is used in every
circumstance, formal and informal.
The origin of the usage is obscure. The Chinook traders who created it probably meant something like: "I am poor, therefore it would be useless for you to rob me. Conversely, I count on your generosity, for I am hungry.".
This undignified attitude is unsuitable for modern Saiwosh speakers. To them, tlahauya means: "We're all mere mortals. Therefore we are poor, you and I, for we're both doomed to die."
Other speakers tend to think more along the lines of "this poor man (humbles
himself before you)".
Hau is a shortened form of tlahauya. It is the exact equivalent of "Hi!" or "Hello!" in English. Saiwosh speakers says Tlahauya! when they are starting a telephone conversation.
Good bye is Wext nanich! which means "See (you) again!"
Most of the Saiwosh names of the letters come from the French, a legacy of French-Canadian missionaries. Some consonants which are unknown in Saiwosh are postan, that is to say "American". Letters which are not used in Saiwosh script are nonetheless necessary to transcribe foreign words and scientific symbols.
Proper nouns are capitalized, but not their derivatives:
The city of Boston is American.
An ti Postan yaka postan.
The precise expression of time is recent in Saiwosh:
ten past eight
tatlam (minit) kimta stotkin awa
a quarter past eight
kwotaskus kimta stotkin awa
half past eight
sitkam kimta stotkin awa
ten to seven
tatlam (minit) kopa sinam awa
a quarter to seven
kwotaskus kopa sinam awa
the 08:47 train
stotkin awa lokit sinam (minit) chikawehach
Both the 12-hour and the 24-hour systems are used, with a preference for the latter. When the 12-hour system is used, one can say kopsit, shortened form of kopalatet sitkamsan (AM) or kimsit, shortened form of kimta sitkamsan (PM):
Chikawehach ko kopa lokit kimsit
The train arrives at four p.m.
The day comes first, then the month, then the year:
Saturday, the 18th of October 2003 AD.
Tolasan, san ixt stotkin kopa kol mokst halo wext tlon kimta Shesu.
Literally: Saturday, day one-eight for year two-zero-ditto-three after Jesus.
The days of the week are of English, French and Chinook origin:
|Saturday||tolasan ("dollar-day" - probably because employees used to be paid on Saturdays!)|
The names of the months are shortened forms of the English, plus mun (month):
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