Saiwosh grammar

Saiwosh Pronunciation and Grammar

1. SAIWOSH SOUNDS

1.1 CONSONANTS

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).

1.2 VOWELS AND DIPHTHONGS

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.

1.3 INTONATION

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!!!

1.4 DIALECTS

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.

2. WORD-FORMATION

2.1 ROOT-WORDS

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)

2.2 COMPOUND WORDS

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:

Iskampishman, fisherman
Literally: take fish man

2.3 FUSIONAL WORDS

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.

2.4. EMERGENCY WORD-CREATION

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.
Na au tuwan pikaptlak.

2. The speaker isn't too sure that his interlocutor would recognize the word. He says:

Na au tuwan pikaptlak wehachik.
Literally: My brother has a "pickup truck" road-vehicle.

The interlocutor understands at least that a pikaptlak is a kind of car or truck.

The same method can be used with adjectives and verbs:

He sublimated his subliminal violence into art.
Ya munk saplimet ya sapliminal-nax tikipak kopa achisht.

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:

January: chanmun
chanmun = Jan (for Jan-uary) + mun (month).

Quarter (fraction): kwotaskus
kwotaskus = quarter + skus (part)

2.5. REDUPLICATION

As in many native languages of the American North-West, reduplication is used to make diminutives:

kala bird
kala kala little bird

But there are exceptions:

pil red
pilpil blood

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)

3. PRONOUNS

3.1 SHORT AND LONG PRONOUNS

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
I/me/my na naika
you/your (singular) oma omaika
he/she/it/him/her/his/its ya yaka
it/its a a
we/us/our ntsa ntsaika
you/your (plural) omsa omsaika
they/them/their tlas tlaska
this/that/what ok okok
who/whom tlaksta tlaksta

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:

Yaka toktin
He (is) a doctor

Yaka kuli
(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

Na piya
My beer

No word can be inserted between a short pronoun and the word or nominal unit it modifies:

Chon ya toktin
John's doctor
(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.

Ya kuli
He runs

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.

3.2 REFLEXIVITY
The word swaika, self, expresses reflexivity:

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

4. NOUNS

4.1 NOMINALIZERS
Saiwosh has two nominalizing prefixes: a and li.

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:

Skukum, strong
Askukum, strength
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.

4.2 NUMBER AND DEFINITENESS

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.

4.3 POSSESSION

Possession can be expressed in various ways in Saiwosh:

4.3.1 Juxtaposition:

Kayush latet
Horse's head

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

5. VERBS

5.1 VERBALIZERS

Saiwosh has four verbalizing prefixes: u and munk / mu, and chako.

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
Amutlatwaman, sender

Chako means to come or to become. It has been used as a verbal prefix since Chinook Jargon days:

Wim, fallen.
Chakowim, to fall.

5.2 CAUSATIVES

The verb munk (to do, to make) transforms a verb into a causative:

Ya tlatwa
He goes
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

5.3 TENSES AND MODES

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

Polatli chaiki
It will soon be night-time

Literally: Night soon

5.4 COPULA

It is not idiomatic to use the verb ti (to be) too often in Saiwosh. A long pronoun is used instead:

Naika pilyaksoman
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

5.5 PASSIVE VOICE EQUIVALENTS

There is no true passive in Saiwosh. It is normally expressed by fronting the object:

Hul pus umak
The mouse is being eaten by the cat
Literally: Mouse cat eats

5.6 SERIAL VERBS

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

5.7 NEGATION AND AFFIRMATION

Negation and affirmation are expressed by the adverbs wek and nawitka:

Wek oma tlatwa an tmola
You won't go to town tomorrow

Nawitka!
Yes I will!

Aha, wek na tlatwa
No I won't
Literally: Yes, I don't go

5.8 PARTICIPLE EQUIVALENTS
Saiwosh verbs have no past participle. One must use the pseudo-passive form instead:

Wehachik man kokshat
A broken car
Literally: A car someone broke

Since there is no present participle either, Saiwosh speakers use nominalized nouns:

Awo lamotai
A talking mountain
Literally: Speech mountain

Man ko asam kuli
A man came running
Literally: Man come with run

6. ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS

6.1 ADJECTIVES
6.1.1 Simple Adjectives

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:

Man hit
A human habitation

Since there is no real difference between adjectives and instransitive verbs, adjectives are preceded by short pronouns, like verbs:

Ya skukum
He (is) strong

6.1.2 Derived Adjectives

6.1.2.1 The prefixes halo and wek

Halo is a privative prefix:

Haloman ili
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.

6.1.2.2 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.

Olknax liwa
A winding (Literally: snake-like) river

6.2 COMPARISON
Ya skukum ilipyu omaika
He is stronger than you
Literally: He (is) strong more (than) you

Ya skukum kakwa omaika
He is as strong as you
Literally: He (is) strong like you

Ya skukum kimtayu omaika
He is less strong than you
Literally: He (is) strong less (than) you

Ya skukum ilipyu konawe
He is the strongest
Literally: He (is) strong more (than) all

Ya skukum kimtayu konawe
He is the least strong
Literally: He (is) strong less (than) all
6.3 ADVERBS

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

6.4 AGE AND SIZE

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

7. PREPOSITIONS

Saiwosh has prepositions but no postpositions. The most frequently used are :

asam with
kopa to, at, in, for
mi of, in (shortened form of mitlait)
mitlait of (Literally: belong, stay with)
saku for (the benefit of)
saya from

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:

Kayax, entrails
Ukayax in(side).

Sxiyan side, flank
Usxiyan beside

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

8. SYNTAX

8.1 WORD ORDER

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:

Munkhitman
Mason
Literally: build house man

8.2 QUESTIONS

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?

Aki Lichat?
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

8.3 APPOSITION

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

8.4 RELATIVE CLAUSES

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

8.5 NOMINALIZED CLAUSES

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

9. NUMBERS

9.1 CARDINAL NUMBERS
zero halo
one ixt
two mokst
three tlon
four lokit
five kwinam
six taxam
seven sinam
eight stotkin
nine kwaist
ten tatlam
eleven tatlam ixt
twelve tatlam mokst
twenty mokst tatlam
twenty-three mokst tatlam tlon
a hundred takamonak
two hundred and three mokst tak tlon
three hundred and forty-five tlon tak lokit taxam kwinam
thousand tatlatak
two thousand mokst tatlatak
million milyon
billion (109) tatlatak milyon


9.2 ORDINAL NUMBERS
first ilip
second moksti
third tloni
fourth lokiti
fifth kwinami
sixth taxami
seventh sinami
eighth stotkini
ninth kwaisti
tenth tatlami
eleventh tatlam ilip
twelfth tatlam moksti
twentieth mokst tatlami
twenty-third mokst tatlam tloni
hundredth takamonaki
two hundred and third mokst tak tloni
three hundred and forty-fifth tlon tak lokit taxam kwinami
thousandth tatlataki
two thousandth mokst tatlataki
millionth milyoni
billionth tatlatak milyoni


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):

1897
ixt stotkin kwaist sinam

1999
ixt kwaist wext kwaist

2002
mokst halo wext mokst

9.3 FRACTIONAL NUMBERS

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

10. GREETINGS AND POLITENESS

10.1 GREETINGS

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!"

10.2 POLITENESS
10.2.1 Terms of address

Tayi, chief, is the equivalent of Sir. Manam, from the French Madame is the standard word for Mrs, Ms and Miss. As terms of address, they can be used as collectives:

Tayi, kwan omsaika amat
Gentlemen, please be seated

10.2.2 Asking people to do things

The more convoluted an order or request is, the more polite it is suppposed to be:

Tlatwa!
Go!

Kwan tlatwa!
Please go!

Kwan oma tlatwa!
Please, you go!

Tayi, kwan oma tlatwa!
Please, go, Sir!

O tayi, kwan oma tlatwa!
Oh Sir, if you please, go!

O tayi, tlosh spos oma tlatwa!
Oh Sir, it would be good if you went!

The polite way to offer a drink:

Aki tlosh spos naika kopi kopa manam?
Can I offer you a coffee?
Literally: Question: good if me coffee to lady?

To which the answer is:

Aha, tlosh
Yes, good

Or :

Wek, masi
No, thanks

Saiwosh is a direct language, and literal translation gives an impression of curtness which is absent from the minds of the speakers. Excessive concision is considered vulgar:

Aki piya, au?
Want a beer, mate?

11. NAMES OF THE LETTERS AND CAPITALIZATION

11.1 NAMES OF THE LETTERS

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.

Letter a a
b postanpe
c se
d postante
e e
f ep
g ke
h hash
i i
j shi
k ka
l el
m em
n en
o o
p pe
q ku
r postan'el
s es
t te
u u
v we
w wa
x ix
y ya
z set
' apostlop
@ saipa'a ("cyber A")



11.2 CAPITALIZATION

Proper nouns are capitalized, but not their derivatives:

The city of Boston is American.
An ti Postan yaka postan.

12. TIME AND DATE

12.1 TIME

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.

12.1 DATE

The day comes first, then the month, then the year:

18-10-03
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:
Sunday santi ("Sunday")
Monday ilchisan (moon-day)
Tuesday matisan ("mardi")
Wednesday mektisan ("mercredi")
Thursday shutisan ("jeudi")
Friday patlasan ("vendredi")
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):

January chanmun
February pepmun
March machmun
April eplolmun
May memun
June chunmun
July chulaimun
August okastmun
September septamun
October oktomun
November nopemun
December tisemun

 

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