Kaw and Osage 'rain', 'stand' and 'boy'

Kathleen Shea kdshea at ku.edu
Thu Nov 4 08:34:52 UTC 2004

> > Carolyn writes:
> >> In Osage, 'to stand' has a long nasal a:N.  'To rain', on the other
> hand, is
> either ni'z^u or nu'z^u, where the first syllable vowel is not long, or at
> least
> is not so long as the a:N in 'to stand'. I don't write 'rain' with a long
> vowel.
> > Ditto in Kansa.
> >
> > naaNz^iN'    'stand'  (1st syll. long, second accented)
> >
> > nuz^u'    'rain'  (1st syll short, second accented, /u/ is a
> front-rounded V as
> > in French)
> >
> > 'Boy' would be dissimilar in any event [...]
> >
> > So Kaw and Osage have no homonyms among these three.
> >
> > Bob
> Hmm.  Well, I asked our other Omaha speaker on Friday, and after
> mulling it over for a while, she denied that the first syllable
> in naNz^iN', 'stand', was long.  I wonder how Ponka handles it?
> Rory

I'm just sending a quick answer, because it's late and I can't see straight.
I got around to asking Uncle Parrish (my only remaining consultant) about
this on the phone Monday (even though it's hard to hear very well on the
phone).  He readily recognized and produced naNz^iN' naNz^iN'i  'It keeps
raining.'  (In fact he said it was doing that at the time in Oklahoma where
he was.)  I didn't hear a long vowel in the first syllable of either word
(in line with Rory's note above), and the accent (higher pitch) was on the
second syllable of each word (consistent with Bob's recording of the
position of the accent in these two words in Kansa), with the final syllable
of the last word being long, which I attributed to the presence of what
we've been calling the "proximate" morpheme -i.  When I asked Uncle Parrish
if the first syllable "naN" in either word sounded long to him, he said that
it didn't but took pains to point out to me that the sentence-final syllable
was long, or "drawn out."  He repeated this sentence several times for me,
and his comments coincided with my observations.  The long second syllable
of naNz^iNi'  'stand'  sounded to me as though it had two "chest pulses,"
but I don't remember now if the high pitch of that syllable fell or trailed
off a bit at the end of the sentence or not since I didn't write it down.
Of course, the nasalization of the preceding vowel probably spread to the
final -i, but it's hard to distinguish oral from nasal i ~ iN in final


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