2 Chiwere questions

Saul Schwartz sschwart at PRINCETON.EDU
Wed Jul 24 22:40:02 UTC 2013

Dear Siouanists,

I was hoping you could help me with two Chiwere questions.

First, I’m here at the Newberry Library in Chicago going through their
Chiwere materials, and I’m trying to figure out the title of Hamilton and
Irvin’s 1844 catechism, which in their orthography is WE-WV-HÆ-KJU.

My best guess for this is Wiwúdhe Gasúⁿ. Wiwúdhe is listed in Jimm’s
dictionary as meaning “extract or remove water from s.t.; draw out or
squeeze out moisture from an obj.” Gasúⁿ has a few different meanings along
the lines of “now; thus; finally,” etc. I can see a metaphorical connection
between wiwúdhe and a catechism because using a catechism as a method of
religious instruction through elicitation is a form of drawing out, though
of religious teachings, not water. So could this be a metaphorical
application/extension of wiwúdhe? Do other Siouan languages use a similar
word for catechism?

In case it helps, here’s a partial decoder ring to H&I’s orthography from
their grammar:

W = w as in ‘weep’
E = e as in ‘me’
V = I think this is a schwa sound. Here is H&I’s explanation: “<a>
sometimes appears to have the short broad sound of <a> in . . . ‘what’ . .
. but in such situations it so nearly resembles the sound of <a> in ‘far,’
(the difference being about as great as it is in the sound this same letter
has in the words ‘what,’ ‘fall’) that it is thought inexpedient to employ a
distinct character to represent this sound. In the first printing done at
the station, <v> was used to designate this sound.”
H = h as in ‘hat.’ (But note that H&I have no symbol for the guttural /x/,
and they sometimes use <h> in places that we write <x> today. For example,
they published a collection of prayers titled WV-RO-HÆ, which we write
Æ = a as in ‘fate’
K = k as in ‘keep.’ (But note that H&I’s orthography only has graphemes for
the voiceless stop series /p/, /t/, /k/, and /ch/, and they don’t have
separate graphemes for the voiced series or their voiceless unaspirated
J = sh as in ‘she’
U = u as in ‘true’

So, converted into modern orthography but preserving the ambiguous
translations, we have something like: wiw(a/u)(h/x)e(k/g)shu.

In any case, the fact that I’ve had this much trouble with the title
doesn’t bode well for my plan to one day go through and decode the whole

Second, I was wondering if the -gaxe part of the Chiwere word for book
(wawágaxe) or writing (wagáxe) can be broken down into smaller morphemes.
Jimm’s dictionary lists =gaxe as a verbal root meaning “scratch; fashion;
carve; engrave with an instrument; create” and as an independent verb
meaning “construct; build; make; create” cognate to the Omaha gáxe and Kaw

Gáxe looks like it could be composed of gi + a + xe, with gi- being either
the instrumental prefix “by pushing or striking” or the indirect object
(“to/for”), the a- looks like the positional “on,” and Jimm’s dictionary
identifies =xe as a verbal root that refers to “lifting a soft, flat
object.” I have a feeling the Comparative Siouan Dictionary may have the
answer, but this is my first time using it, and I’m having some trouble
reading it, so to speak. It is suggesting that Chiwere gáxe is composed of
two morphemes, proto-Siouan ká meaning ‘make marks’ and proto-Siouan xE
meaning ‘surround’? So then is reading the gá in gáxe as gi + a mistaken?
I’m pasting the relevant entries I could find below.

GLOSS[ make marks †ka 0.x >mark, scratch


PSI[ *ká•xE

OTHREC[ M58 *káx (p.109)

PCH[ *-ka•xE
CR[ kaaxi, dúu- ‘scratch, make marks’ RG
CR[ páakaaxi ‘scratch’ DEC-97
HI[ ka•xE, ara- ‘scratch with toe’ J
HI[ ka•xE, nú- ‘make single scratch, mark off, measure’ J
HI[ ka•xE, pá- ‘make mark by dragging’ J

MA[ kax, ra- ‘to eat corn from cob’ H-104
MA[ írukaxka ‘willow rake’ H-106

PMV[ *ká•ɣE

PDA[ *káɣA
LA[ káɣa ‘make’ C
SV[ káɣa ‘make’
ST[ gáʕa PAS

PWC[ *ká•xE
CH[ gáxe ‘make marks’ Marsh
WI[ gáax ‘plan’ KM-311
WI[ gáx, wa- ‘write; draw; owe’ KM-3251

PDH[ *ká•ɣe
OP[ gá•xe ‘make’ C, RR {ɣ}(?)
KS[ gá•ɣe ‘make sth., do sth., pretend, cause’ RR
OS[ ká•ɣe ‘make’ RR
QU[ káɣe ‘make, cause’ RR
QU[ wakákaɣe ‘picture’ (JOD), ‘movie’ RR

CA[ kače ‘make’ KS < ka + caus. Sp.

COM[ Since PSI ‘make, do’ appears to have been |*ʔų•|, which became an
opaque element in numerous compounds, we suspect that this term originally
meant ‘make marks’ (cf. MRS and Chiwere) and has been broadened in several
languages to mean ‘make’. The CR, HI, and MA forms may actually belong with
‘scrape †ka ʔ.x >scratching noise, scraping noise, sweep’ q.v. All these
terms may be related by sound symbolism in any event.

GLOSS[ surround †xE



PCH[ *xa
CR[ huupaxáa ‘socks, men’s’ GG-49
CR[ áaxaa ‘around’ GG-3
HI[ í•xa ‘net’ J
HI[ í•xaxihe ‘corral’ J
HI[ íʔaxa ‘surround’ J
HI[ hu•paxá ‘socks, stockings; lining of shoe’ J

WI[ hasá ‘fasten’ Lk 16.6 KM-693 (?)

BI[ †axí “axí” ‘they swarmed on’ R-172b (?)
BI[ †ačá “atcá” ‘to kill many’ R-259b (?)

OF[ †ą́sha “oⁿ´sxa” ‘hunt for game’ DS-328a (?)

COM[ Cf. ‘surround, head off, intercept †nąse’.

Any insight you could share would be much appreciated!

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