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The Hitchiti Language

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American | No Comments

The Hitchiti Dialect of the Maskoki language family is analogous, though by no means identical with the Creek dialect in its grammatic out lines. Many points of comparison will readily suggest them selves to our readers, and enable us to be comparatively short in the following sketch.

The female dialect is an archaic form of Hitchiti parallel to archaic Creek; both were formerly spoken by both sexes. Only the common form (or male language) of Hitchiti will be considered here.

Hitchiti Phonetics

The Hitchiti phonetic system is the same as in Creek, except that the sonant mutes, b, g, are more distinctly heard (d is quite rare). The processes of alternation are the same in both dialects. Many vowels of substantives are short in Creek, which appear long in Hitchiti: ă’pi tree: H. ā’pi; h ă’si sun, moon: H. hā’si; nĭ’ta day: H. níta etc.

Hitchiti Language Morphology

Noun. The case inflection of the substantive, adjective, of some pronouns and of the nominal forms of the verb is effected by the suffixes: -i for the absolute, -ut for the subjective, -un for the objective case: yáti person, yátut, yátun; náki what, which, nákut, nákun. A few verbals inflect in -a, -at, -an; for instance, those terminating in -hunga.

The diminutive ending is the same as in Creek: -odshi, -udshi.

To the Creek collective suffix -algi corresponds –a’li, which is, in fact, the third person of a verbal plural: míki chief, míka’li the class of chiefs and: “they are chiefs” Maskóki: Maskoká’li the Creek people; fápli’hitchi wind, fápli’htcha’li wind clan, wind gens.

Hitchiti has a greater power of verbifying substantives than Creek: míki chief, mikólis I am chief; tchóyi pine-tree, tchóyus it is a pine tree.

There is no real substantive verb in the language, and adjectives, when becoming verbified, are turned into attributive verbs, as in Creek: wánti strong, hard; tsawántus I am strong; wántus he, it is strong, hard; wántatik not strong; wántigus he is very strong; wántatis he is not strong; wanta’hlátis he is not strong at all.

The gradation of the adjective is expressed either by the attributive verb, to which isi-, is- is prefixed, or in some other ways syntactically:

Kúdsuni tchátu-kunáwun isínwantûs iron is harder than silver.

ukitchúbi okilósi ihayuχkiki o’latíwats a lake is deeper than a river; lit. “to river the lake in its depth does not come up.” This may also be expressed: okilósi (u)kitchóbi isihayuχkúwats; lit. “a lake (than) a river more-deepens.

yá hali’hlósăka lapkun uⁿweikas this boy is the tallest; lit. “this boy all surpasses in height.”

yát yákni tchäih’ –apiktchaχáyus this is the highest mountain; lit. “this ground-high stands ahead.”

The numeral has two forms for the cardinal number: one used attributively, and another, abbreviated from it, used exclusively for counting; there are, outside of this, forms for the ordinal, for the distributive, and for the adverbial numeral. The list of the numerals is as follows:

Cardinals. Ordinals. Distributive. Adverbial.
1 ‘lámin ‘láhai’h indshuatki “beginning ‘láhamin a‘lá’hmi
2 túklan tukā′ satóklaka tuklákan satúkla’h
3 tutchínan tutchi satotchínaka tuchinákan atutchína’h
4 sitákin síta’h isítagika sitahákin asítagi
5 tchaχgípan tchá’hgi istchaχgípaka tchaχgipákan atsá’hgipi
6 ípāgin ípa isipágaka ipahákan isípagi
7 kulapákin kúlapa iskulapákika kulapáhakan iskupapáki
8 tusnapákin tusnapá istusnapákika tusnapáhakan istusnapáki
9 ustapákin ustapá isustapákika ustapáhakan isustapáki
10 pokólin pukú ispokólika pukúlakan ispikúli
20 pokóli túklan pokóli túklan ispokol-túklaka pokó-tukúlakan ispukúli-túklan
100 tchúkpi ‘lámin tchúkpi ‘lámin istchukpi-‘lámika tchukpi-‘lámakan istchukpi-‘lámin

Folded four times is expressed by the cardinal: po‘lótki sítaki; folded eight times: po‘lótki tusnapákin.

The personal pronoun appears in different forms: subjective absolute; subjective prefixed to verbs and objective pronoun.

Subjective absolute: Subj. prefixed: Objective:
I ā′ni tcha-, am-, an-, a- tcha-
thou tchí’hni tchi- tchi-
he, she, it í’hni im-, in-, i-
we pú’hni pu-, po- pu-
ye tchi’hnitáki tchi-, inverted: ítch- tchi-, w.suffix
they i’hnitáki im-, in-, i-

ánāli (usually ánalut) myself, 2 s. tchí’hnāli, 3 s. í’hnāli; pú’hnāli ourselves, 2 pl. tchi’hnālitáki, 3 pl. i’hnalitáki.

The possessive pronoun.

my am-, an-, a- tcha-, inverted: atch-
thy tchi-, tchi-, inverted: itch-
his, her, its im-, in-, i- im-, in-, i-
our pú’hni, pu- pun-, pu-, po
your tchiχtchi, tchi- tchi-, with suffix
their im-, in-, i- i- etc., with suffix

tchálbi my hand or hands, tchílbi, ílbi; púlbi our hand or hands, tchílbuχtchi, ílbi.

ántchiki my house or houses; tchíntchiki, íntchiki; púntchiki, tchíntchigoχtchi, ínchigoχtchi.

Demonstrative pronouns: ma, mût, mûn (Cr. ma); yá, yát, yán or yûn (Cr. hía); yákti, yáktut, yáktun (Cr. ása); má’hmali the same.

Demonstr.-relat. pronoun: náki, nákut, nákun which, what.

Interrogative pronouns: nó’li? Nó’lut or nó’lut i? nó’lun or nó’lun i? who? náki? nákut? nákun? which? what? nákon i? what is it?

The Hitchiti verb equals the Creek verb in the abundance of inflectional forms. In order to show the inflection of a verb (or rather a part of it), going parallel to the one chosen as the Creek paradigm, we select ísiki to take, to carry; áwiki being used when a plurality of objects is concerned; Creek: ísita, tcháwita.

ísilis I take, 2 s. ísitskas, 3 s. ísis; 1pl. ísikas, 2 pl. isátchkas, 3 pl. ísa‘li.

áwalis I take, pl.. of obj., 2s. awitskas, 3 s. áwas; 1 pl. áwikas, 2 pl. áwatskas, 3 pl. áwa‘lis.

í’hsilis I took a short time ago (Cr. ísayanks); á’hwalis.

ísānis I took several days ago (Cr. isäímatas); also I had taken; áwānis.

ísiliktas I have taken many years ago (Cr. isáyantas); áwaliktas.

ísilālis I shall take (Cr. isá‘lis); áwalālis.

isis! pl. ísitis! take it! ā′wis! ā′witis! (or ā′watis!)

ísiχtchi having taken, holding in one’s hands; áwiχtchi.

í’hsik (object) taken, part, pass.; á’hwak.

ísigi, ísiki to take, the taking-, áwigi, áwiki.

ísi, ísut, ísun one who takes, carries; áwi, áwut, áwun.

isihúnka, -at, -an one who took, has taken; awihúnka, -at, -an.

isáhika, -at, -an one who is going to take; awáhika, -at, -an.

From this verb ísiki, áwiki the language does not form any passive, reciprocal, reflective and causative voice, but employs verbs from other radices instead. The interrogative and negative inflection is as follows:

ísatas I do not take , 2 s. ísitskatis, 3 s. ísitis; 1 pl. ísikatis, 2 pl. ísátskatis, 3 pl. (?); áwatas I do not take, pl. of obj., áwítskatis etc.

ísilus? do I take? 2 s. ísitskus? 35. ísus? 1 pl. ísigō? 2 pl. ísatskō? 3 pl. (?). áwalus? do I take? etc.

isatä′sōs? do I not take? 2 s. isitskatíbōs? 35. isitísōs? 1 pl. isikatíbōs? 2 pl. isatskatíbōs? 3 pl. (?). awatä′sōs? do I not take? etc.

A form for the 3. pl. was remembered by none of my informants, who state that the Hitchiti render it by a circumscriptive sentence.

A specimen of the objective or compound conjugation of the verb I strike, batā′plilis, runs as follows:

I strike thee once tchibatáplilis, repeatedly tchibátaspilis

I strike him, her once batā’plilis batáspilis

ye tchibatap’hólilis tchibatas’hópilis

them batas’húpilis batas’húpilis

He, she strikes me once: tchábataplis, repeatedly: tchabátaspis

thee tchibataplis tchibátaspis

him, her batáplis batáspis

us púbataplis pubátaspis

ye tchibatap’hólis tchibatas’hópis

them batáspis batas’hópis

The same verb to strike gives origin to the following genera verbi, each appearing under two different forms, and all being quoted in the present tense of the declarative mode, affirmative voice:

Active: batā′plilis I strike (now) by one blow

batā′spilis I strike (now) by several blows

Passive: tchabátapkas I am struck once, by one blow

tchabátaspkas I am struck more than once (obsolete)

Reciprocal: itibatáplikas we strike each other once

itibatáspigas we strike each other repeatedly

Reflective: ilbatā’plilis I strike myself by one blow

ilbatáspilis I strike myself by several blows

Causative: bataplídshilis I cause to strike once

bataspídshilis I cause to strike repeatedly.

Postpositions govern the absolute case of the noun just as they do in Creek:

kónut tchígi í-aχnun i-aulídshis the skunk stays under the house.

sawut áhi igapun untchóχolis the racoon sits on the top of the tree.

ótaki labáki near or around an island.

ótagi apálu-un on the other side of the island.

yántuntun hitchkátigan beyond sight, is an instance of a postposition figuring as preposition, and is connected with the objective case of a noun. It is not a real postposition, but an adverb used in this function.


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