On the Origin of Bella Coola /-uks/

by Hank Nater
On the Origin of Bella Coola /-uks/
Hank Nater
International Journal of American Linguistics
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. 1988. Computerized data base for Uto-Aztecan cognate sets. Ms., Anthropology De- partment, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. . 1996. Guarijio, Gramiitica, Textos y Vocabulario. Mexico City: Instituto de Investi- gaciones Antropolbgicas, Universidad Nacional Autdnoma de MCxico. MOLINA, FELIPE S., AND DAVID LEEDOM SHAUL. 1993. A Concise Yoeme and English Dictio- nary. Tucson: Tucson Unified School District. PRESS, MARGARET

L. 1979. Chemehuevi: A Grammar and Lexicon. Berkeley and Los Ange- les: University of California Press.

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SAPIR, EDWARD. 1913-14. Southern Paiute and Nahuatl: a study in Uto-Aztecan. Journal de la SocietC des Americanistes de Paris 10:379-425; 11:443-88. . 1930-31. Southern Paiute: A Shoshonean language. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 65: 1-296,537-730. SAXTON, DEAN; LUCILLE SAXTON; AND SUSIE ENOS. 1983. Dictionary: Olothham Milgaan, English PapagolPima. 2d ed., ed. R. L. Cherry. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. SEILER, HANSIAKOB,

AND KOJIRO HIOKI. 1979. Cahuilla Dictionary. Banning, Calif.: Malki Museum Press. SHAUL,DAVID LEEDOM. 1994. A sketch of the structure of Oob Nolok (Mountain Pima). An- thropological Linguistics 36, no. 3. STUBBS,BRIAN D. 1995a. The labial labyrinth in Uto-Aztecan. IJAL 61:396-422. . 19956. The elusive liquids of Uto-Aztecan. Paper presented at the 1995 Friends of Uto-Aztecan Conference.

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1. There is in Bella Coola (BC) a pluralizing suffix /-uk~/,~ has

which no known cognates in Salishan. All of the neighboring (Wakashan, Athapaskan) lan- guages, too, lack a similar suffix. On the other hand, BC has not only been

' This report is a revised version of my 1997 conference paper (Nater 1997).

'~ater (1984:55-56). Generally, I-uksl serves to pluralize nouns, while in intransitive verbs, luksl indicates plurality of the agent; in transitive verbs, I-uksl pluralizes the patient(s): R'msta 'person'-R'mstayuks 'persons'; R'apif 'we (two or more) go'-R'apuksil 'we (multitude) go'; caaxatic 'I will chase them (two or more) out'-caa~ayukstic 'I will chase them (multi- tude) out'.


influenced by Wakashan and Athapaskan but has also derived a portion of its lex- icon from Chinook Jargon (CJ)."J, however, is quite rudimentary morphologi- cally: even in BC-flavored CJ utterances elicited in Bella Coola in 1972-73, a suffix *I-uks/ was not recorded. Now, while considering the origins of CJ itself, I found that Wishram (Upper Chinook) has 1-ukS/, which has the same function as BC noun-pluralizing 1-uks/. In this attempt at determining the ancestry of BC 1-uksl. I consider mainly two possibilities: either */-ukS, -uks/ DID exist in (older versions of) CJ, or BC 1-uksl is one of a few elements originating from languages spoken to the south of the Salish area.

2. BC is known to display certain archaic features: (a) although BC is a Coastal Salishan language in most respects, Ik, k', x/ ([kr, kr', xY]) have here not shifted to IE, E', S/; (b) several non-Salishan lexical items have been imported from (pre-)Proto-Athapaskan and Athapaskan-Eyak;4 (c) some prosodic features and phonetic shifts have likely been occasioned by (pre-)Proto-Athapaskan;5 etc. Is the suffix I-uksl, then, another relic preserved in BC (but extinct everywhere else), and was this morpheme once productive in CJ? I have not found any evidence of such a suffix in the CJ data available to me; although there are several CJ words containing

I. . . ~ks#/,~

this sequence is in CJ neither separable as a suffix nor associated with plurality. Thus, a CJ reconstruction for BC I-uks/ remains unwarranted.

    The second scenario, direct borrowing from Upper Chinook (UC), makes sense only if it can be shown that there was once close contact between BC and UC. According to some of my late informants, BC expeditions had been undertaken to areas as far south as Victoria (although the Wishrams as such were not mentioned by them), while further back in time, pre-BC groups may even have occupied re- gions on and/or near the Olympic peninsula. A southern origin of BC is also sug- gested by a small number of (virtually unique) lexical resemblances between BC and Quileute: Quileute /bolkw/ 'hair' = BC /mntkwa/, Quileute 176.-t'iqu/ 'head' = BC /t'nxU/, Quileute /lila.p/ 'soft' = BC /lulp/.' Note further Wishram li(t)-k'Bu(w)anl 'white salmon' = BC /k'awn/ 'blackmouth spring ~almon'.~

    The formal-semantic resemblance between BC 1-uksl and UC 1-ukS/ does not appear to be due to chance. However, we must conclude for now that the EXACT etymology of BC 1-uks/ will remain undecided until additional data, especially

'Some such borrowings are /tulul 'to succeed, win', /kusu/ 'pig', /saplin/ 'flour, bread', IcikciM 'wheeled vehicle', /laplit/ 'priest', Ilisaakl 'sack'. /lamatu/ 'sheep', /lad 'rum', /musmus/ 'cow', Ipaatacl 'potlatch', /tintin/ 'bell'.

'Nater (1994: 177, 181-82).

'Nater (1994: 177, 186-88).

"homason (1995): /kamuks/ 'dog', /nanimuks/ 'otter', lpasCyuksl 'French', /sak'iluks/ 'trousers'.

Jensen and McClaren (n.d.). These correspondences are unique insofar as cognate forms in Salishan are unattested. Quileute /b/ < */m/. 116.-/ (a stem-forming base or classifier?) is also encountered in 176.-t'iloxW/ 'eyes', /,6.-lit/ 'mouth'. 1%-dif/ 'teeth', 176.-laxat' 'ears'.

'Sapir (1909:26. 28). Again. there are no known cognate terms in Salishan languages.


concerning CJ and languages of the Washington-Oregon coastal regions, become accessible. Note also that the occurrence of I-ukS/ appears to be somewhat limited in UC itself. Throughout Sapir's texts, -ukc = 1-ukS/ is seen frequently only in the tales found on pages 204-26, while elsewhere in his book (Sapir 1909), the allo- morphs -ikc, -kc = I-(i)kS/ are encountered only occasionally:

With 1-(u/i)kS/ Without I-(u/i)kS/ /itq'e.y6qtikS/ (p. 48) 'men of old' liq'C.yoqt1 (p. 16) 'the old man' litmC.maluStikSl (p. 78) 'dead people' lilmC.maluStl (p. 78) 'dead person' /iti6uxikS/ (p. 88) 'younger brothers' /iSi6uxix/ (p. 90) 'id. dual' /itknAanukS/ (p. 140) 'magpies' l(i)knAanl (pp. 124, 140) 'magpie' litE'ilaqukSl (p. 162) 'grasshoppers' /iE'ilaq/ (p. 162) 'grasshopper' /ikBl~alukS/ (p. 178) 'coins' /iqA.l~al/ (p. 179) 'gambling disk' /itkAlukS/ (pp. 204- 10) 'men' /i(l)kAla/ (pp. 18, 96, 184) 'a man' /itt'uAn~ayukS/ (pp. 204-26) 'Paiutes' /itlbanxa/ (p. 2 10) 'Paiute' /itkiudani(u)kS/ (pp. 208-16) 'horses' /iki6tan/ (p. 180) 'horse' /nadidAnuitkS/ (p. 232) 'the Indians' /nadidAnuit/ (p. 196) 'Indian'

(/it-/ 'plural', /i-/ 'pronominal prefix', /iS-/ 'dual', /it-/ 'neuter' (pp. 232-33))

Further research may reveal that I-ukS/ is originally not Chinookan at all: it is quite possible that a pre-BC */-uks/ was adopted by (Upper) Chinook, or that the BC and UC pluralizers were borrowed from a third ~ource.~

HANKNATER, Conklin, Alberta, Canada


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no. 29. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada. BANHIDI, ZOLTAN; ET AL. 1969. Lehrbuch der Ungarischen Sprache. Budapest: Tankonyvkiad6. HOIJER, HARRY. 1946. Tonkawa. Linguistic Structures of Native America, ed. Harry Hoijer

et al. New York: Viking Fund. [Reprint ed., New York: Johnson Reprint, 1971.1 JENSEN, VICKIE, AND CAROL MCLAREN. n.d. Quileute for Kids. Book 1. NATER, HANK. 1984. The Bella Coola Language. Canadian Ethnology Service Paper no. 92.

Ottawa: National Museums of Canada. . 1992. The Athapaskan component of Nuxalk. IJAL 60:177-90. . 1997. Is Nuxalk I-uksl a Chinook suffix? Papers for the Thirty-second International

Conference on Salish and Neighboring Languages, Port Angeles, Washington. SAPIR, EDWARD. 1909. Wishram Texts. Publications of the American Ethnological Society, no. 2. New York: E. J. Brill.

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'Otherwise, pluralizing suffixes having the shape I-(V)k. . .#/ are not uncommon: Tonkawa I-kal 'indefinite plural' (Hoijer 1946:302), Cree I-aW (< *I-akil 'third-person animate plural ending'; Aubin 1975:8), Eskimo /-M'dual' (Swadesh 1946:39), Hungarian I-M 'plural' (BBnhidi et al. 1969:35), etc.

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