Reading Traditional Narratives in Arapaho

04 Apr

Reading Traditional Narratives in Arapaho

Traditional Arapaho stories have been published by Zdenek Salzmann (1956) and by Andrew Cowell and Alonzo Moss, Sr. (2005, 2006). These stories have a special grammar different from everyday spoken Arapaho. The differences are as follows:

1) There are special forms for ‘he said,’ ‘they said’ and so forth. The forms are:

heehehk =
s/he said heehehkoni’ = they said
hee3oohok =
s/he he said to him/her/them hee3oohohkoni’ = they said to him/her/them
hee3eihok = the other one(s) said to him/her hee3eihohkoni’ = the other one(s) said to them
2) There is a special prefix used on verbs: he’ih-. This prefix means ‘it is said to have happened…’. Very often, the variant he’ih’ii- occurs. This means ‘it is said to have been going on…’ or ‘it is said to have happened generally/regularly’. Sometimes the prefix also occurs separated from the verb, as he’ih’ini.

3) When this special prefix is used, the verbs have to have person and number forms as if they are NEGATIVE, even though they’re not. Since the things aren’t known to have happened ‘for sure,’ but are only in stories, you can think of them as less ‘positive’ or ‘affirmative’ than in normal language, so this is why the grammar of stories looks a little bit like the grammar of negative sentences in Arapaho.

Normal grammar, negative: hoow-noohob-ee = ‘he doesn’t see her’
Narrative grammar: he’ih-noohob-ee = ‘he saw her, it is said’

Normal grammar, negative: hoow-e’inon-eeno’ = ‘they don’t know him’
Narrative grammar: he’ih-‘e’inon-eeno’ = ‘they knew him, it is said’

4) When stories have a negative, the prefix is cii-, not hoow-:

he’ih-cii-noohob-ee = ‘he didn’t see her, it is said’
he’ih-cii-he’inon-eeno’ = ‘they didn’t know him, it is said’

5) BUT, when people are actually talking in a story (dialogue), the everyday modern language is used (underlined below):

nih-noohow-o’ heehehk = ”I saw him,’ he said.’

6) When there are a sequence of events, the prefix he’ne’- or just ne’- is used, meaning ‘then, next’. When this prefix is used, normal, everyday grammar is used (underlined below):

he’ih-noohob-ee. he’ne’-nihii3-oot tous. = ‘he saw her, it is said. so then he said to her, ‘hello.”

Below is a sample from a traditional Arapaho narrative, illustrating how the system works:

wohéí hé’ih’ii-nííhonookooyéí-no’ héétee3owó3neníteeno’.
well / it is said that they used to run for a long time / the old time indians

it is said that they used to run for a long time

hé’ih’ii-ciiskóóhu-no’ ci’.
it is said that they used to run a long ways / too

tih’íísiinííhi’ hé’ih’ii-ce3kóóhu-no’.
in the old days / it is said that they used to set off running

it is said they ran fast

Here’s another example, from the same story, with sequence prefixes:

howóó núhu’ bíííno:
also / those / chokecherries

núhu’úúno hohóótiinííni bííno hé’ih’ii-cíhiixoén noh hé’ih’íni bíibíí3.
those particular / tree-like/ cherries / it is said he would peel them / and / it is said that / he ate them

hé’ih-‘óótoowkúútii hí’in hitóó3et.
it is said that he swallowed it / that / his saliva

hé’né’-nih’iisííne’étiit céi3ííhi’.
so that’s how he lived / on the way here

Here’s one final example, with dialogue:

“wohéí,” hee3éihók, “nenéénin héétniiteheibé3en.
well / the other one said to him/ you / I will help you

toyóóhowú huut!”
you wait for me / here

hé’né’-ce3kóóhut néhe’ koo’óh.
so then he set off running / this / coyote

hé’né’-cihnó’oxotonéít nóókuo, nóókuo.
and then he brought it back to him over here / a rabbit / a rabbit


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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in ARAPAHO LANGUAGE


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