About the Kashaya Dictionary

   English - Kashaya   

This page describes the contents of a web implementation of an interim Kashaya dictionary, or lexicon. It was created by Eugene Buckley with assistance from a variety of people, especially student researchers John Gluckman (UCLA) and Kobey Shwayder (Penn). The effort was first supported by a grant from the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation, and at present by the National Endowment for the Humanities, through the Documenting Endangered Languages program.

The information contained in this lexicon was mainly collected by Robert Oswalt starting in the late 1950's. Since he did not complete the intended dictionary before his death in 2007, I undertook the work of converting his text files to a database, organizing and developing links among the entries, and expanding entries that did not have clear definitions or examples of use. The work is still very much in progress, but this web version is provided so that members of the tribe can make use of it despite its current limitations, as well as give feedback to improve future versions.

The buttons at the top right corner of each page have the following functions:

The Kashaya entries contain a lot of complex information. The main things to keep in mind are summarized here, using the entry for biʔtʼa₂ as an example.

biʔtʼa*2   [biʔtʼaw]  bi-, ʔtʼa*1. Variant: bitʼac*. Verb. reach, catch up with; be almost ready, finished. biʔtʼatʰuʔ not to reach, catch up. biʔtʼa mulʔ catch up with him! biʔtʼamé mulʔ (to several) catch up with him! biʔtʼa má·calʔ catch up with them! ʔán biʔtʼawa·dadu to get closer and closer. Example Variant: biʔtʼawá·dadu. kusé·ntu biʔtʼaw almost, nearly 100. tiyúʔdul biʔtʼawa·yiʔ ʔaháy he is holding the stick to himself. biʔtʼa reach! catch up! antonym: bidilicʼ*.

biʔtʼaw   [biʔtʼaw]  biʔtʼa*2. Adverb. almost, nearly.

Here are the main parts of the entry.

biʔtʼa*₂ The "lexeme form" of entry, which is a potentially abstract version of the word. The asterisk * means that this is not a complete word; here, it requires the Absolutive suffix -w (see the next line). It has a subscript 2 indicating that it is the second entry spelled the same way; the previous entry biʔtʼa₁ means "to taste good" and is not related to this one.
[biʔtʼaw]   For verbs, the representation in square brackets is the Absolutive form, which is basically the infinitive of the verb (here, "to reach"), but can often serve as a noun ("reaching"). This is a form of the word as it can actually be pronounced; [-] means that the entry is an abstract root and you'll need to look at a subentry for a full word that can be pronounced. Sometimes the final consonant of the word changes, because of the way sounds are handled in Kashaya. Many words have an accent mark to tell you which syllable is stressed, but not all of them do so far. If a word has ´ after the last letter, that means the stress can fall on a following word in a phrase, according to pretty complicated rules, but otherwise will be on the last syllable.
bi-, ʔtʼa* The arrow points to the Components of the word; here, the prefix bi- and the root -ʔtʼa-. Most verbs in Kashaya consist of a root that takes anywhere from 1 to 20 different Instrumental Prefixes, which tell something about how the action is performed. You can click these links to see more words that are related.
Variant: bitʼac* Some entries include one or more Variants. Right now the type of variant is not displayed, which is a problem that needs to be fixed; they also are not currently clickable links. This Variant (as with many verbs) is the Plural form, used when more than one thing is affected by the action of the verb, or when the action is performed more than once. These Plurals are not very predictable, so they need to be listed with each verb.
Verb. This is the Part of Speech, or what kind of word it is (Verb, Noun, Adjective, etc.). Some of these have special subtypes, such as Kinship Noun (for words like "my mother") or Verb of Movement (for things like "for several people to go downhill").
reach, catch up with; be almost ready, finished This is the definition of the word. We are trying to include examples sentences for as many words as possible, especially verbs, since this makes it easier to understand how the word is used and exactly what it means.
biʔtʼatʰuʔ not to reach, catch up This is the first example listed among several, with a translation. The translation from the original file is actually not quite right; the suffix -tʰuʔ tells us that this is a negative imperative verb, so it should be "don't reach!" or "don't catch up!" All these translations will have to be checked as work continues. Some examples have the letter D plus a technical description (such as Imperative or Durative); these were not translated by Oswalt, and are waiting to be converted into idiomatic translations.
Example Variant: biʔtʼawá·dadu Some examples have Variants also; this just means that you can pronounce a sentence more than one way, or substitute a word without changing the meaning. In this case, both ʔán biʔtʼawa·dadu and ʔán ʔbiʔtʼawá·dadu are possible for "to get closer and closer", a subtle difference of how many accents are in the phrase and whether ʔ precedes the second word. (This is an effect of some consonants, like b).
antonym: bidilicʼ*.

This is a Lexical Relation to a word that is somehow similar or worth comparing to the present word; often they say something more general like compare, but this one is quite specific, and links to a verb with the opposite meaning, "fail to reach".

The main entry here is followed by an indented subentry for biʔtʼaw, a use of the Absolutive form of the verb as an Adverb that means "almost" (that is, reaching toward but not quite getting there). One of the examples shown in the main entry ("almost a hundred") actually belongs with this meaning, and will have to be moved.

The Kashaya alphabet

Because the sounds of Kashaya are very different from those of English, we need to use special symbols to make the right pronunciation clear. Although these are unfamiliar to most people, they were adopted by Robert Oswalt following the lead of most linguists who have studied the native languages of North America. It is entirely possible to develop a practical orthography that is more like English, but for now the dictionary uses Oswalt's symbols.

The vowels a i e o u are pronounced as in languages like Spanish, not as they sometimes are in English (which has much more erratic spellings of vowels). There are no silent vowels in Kashaya.

a as in father
e something between ay in bay and e in bet
i as in ski, sometimes a little closer to the i in bit
o close to the o in go, but without as much lip rounding at the end
u similar to oo in too

All the vowels can be short or long. When accompanied by a raised dot, a· i· e· o· u·, the vowel should be dragged out. It's a bit like the difference between English bid and bead, or took and spook, but the difference is mainly how long you say the vowel rather than the way your tongue and lips are positioned, which is the case in English.

Some consonants are similar enough to English that we don't need to discuss them in detail:

b d f h l m n r s w y

The spelling š is not used in English but the sound is: this is what we write as sh. Since it is a single sound, not two in a row, linguists usually choose a single letter to represent it, rather than a "digraph" (two letters interpreted as one sound). The same is true for c, a single letter used to write what in English is ch.

The letter ʔ is like a question mark without the dot underneath, but represents a specific sound that often occurs also in English, called a glottal stop. This is common when English speakers say a word like uh-oh; the little "catch" in the throat before the oh is basically the same as in the Kashaya word hoʔo, which means "tooth". Every word of Kashaya that seems to start with a vowel actually starts with this sound, so the most accurate spelling includes this symbol. Thus the word for "I" sounds like ah, but because it has the glottal stop at the beginning, it's written ʔa. In English we usually pronounce words like ah with a glottal stop anyway, so that should be pretty easy to say.

Now we come to some special sounds of Kashaya. Consonants that involve completely stopping the flow of air are called stops. We have these in English in sounds like p t k. Kashaya has lots of these sounds, and some special distinctions among them. Here they all are at once, and then some, with the technical terms used to describe them.

    Plain Aspirated Ejective
Labial (with the lips closed, like English p) p
Dental (tongue against the back of the teeth, near where we make th) t
Alveolar (tip of tongue a bit further behind the teeth, more like English t) ṭʰ ṭʼ
Palatal (technically an affricate, like ch) c
Velar (with the back of the tongue, like English k) k
Uvular (further back than k) q

First let's consider the rows in this table, which differ by what linguistics call Place of Articulation. The consonants in the series written p c k are pronounced at the same place in the mouth as English p ch k, but the others require special comment.

There are two kinds of t-sounds, written plain t and with a dot underneath. This is an important distinction in Kashaya; the closest comparison to English is that plain t, pronounced with the front part of the tongue up against the back of the teeth, is somewhat like our sound th, except that it is a stop like t (cutting off the airflow) rather than a fricative like th (which allows the air to continue to flow during the consonant). The dotted is more like a regular t in English, with the tip of the tongue touching the top of the mouth a bit behind the teeth. These are best learned by listening to a native speaker and practicing.

The remaining special letter is q which is a "uvular" stop. The uvula is the little thing dangling down in the back of the throat, and this consonant is made by raising the very back of the tongue up to the area of the uvular to make a closure. It's like k but further back, which makes a distinctive sound. Again, it's best to listen to a native speaker to get the hang of it.

Now let's look at the three columns in the table, using p as an example. The plain p is similar to English p but without a puff of air (called "aspiration") after it as in English pin; it's more like spin, where it doesn't have that aspiration. But when we write the raised h as in , then there is a strong puff of air, like pin but even more strongly aspirated. These are different sounds in Kashaya, so it's important to pay attention to this little ʰ in order to get the right pronunciation. This is true for all the different places of articulation (every row).

Finally, the "ejectives" in the last column, such as , are very distinctive sounds found in a lot of Native languages from California to the Northwest (and elsewhere). They're formed by building up significant air pressure in the mouth (while raising the larynx) before releasing the stop, which gives them a kind of popping sound. These are also best learned with a speaker.

The last sound we haven't discussed is , which is an ejective version of s. It often sounds like ts but also with the same popping sound when it's released.

A final word about alphabetical ordering. The usual order of the English alphabet is followed, with the modified letters š and right after plain s and t. For consonants that can be aspirated or ejective, those occur in that order after the plain letter; so, for example, one chunk of the alphabet is ordered s sʼ š t tʰ tʼ ṭ ṭʰ ṭʼ. Currently, the letters with two components, such as , are not given separate pages in the lexicon, but are listed under the main letter. Some letters, such as g and z, are not used in Kashaya so they don't occur in the list. The letters f and r occur in borrowed words (mostly from Spanish) and so they are in the list; v is in just one (obsolete) borrowed word.

The glottal stop comes at the end, after y. As mentioned above, words that seem to start with a vowel really have ʔ at the beginning, so you have to look for them there. The only reason the vowels a e i u occur in the list of lexicon pages is that some suffixes do start with a vowel (but always end up preceded by a consonant in the full word). There are no suffixes in Kashaya that start with o, so that letter isn't in the list.

Two special symbols come at the very end, Ø and · (the length mark). These have to do with certain suffixes, prefixes, or interjections, so you can usually ignore them. In addition, x occurs in the list because it's a way of pronouncing a certain "mimetic", or a word that imitates the sound that something makes (like grr or boom); it doesn't represent ks as in English but rather a guttural sound like German ch (as in Bach) or Spanish j (as in jota or reloj). The modified is similar but further back in the mouth, where q is pronounced.