Going by foot and car in O’otham
November 18, 2016
Huhugam Heritage Center
Gila River Indian Community
A phrase that is commonly used by O’otham speakers when they run into each other is Ba:pth ‘o hi:? This phrase is a simple question that is used to ask one person where they are going. One way to answer this question in is by using the expression Vanth ‘o hi: am nolavthakuḍ wui which is a reply that states “I’m going to the store.”
When you use this phrase what you are literally saying is that you are going to walk to the store. That is because this phrase uses the O’otham verb him, which translated means ‘to walk’ or ‘travel by foot’.
This verb is found in many expressions from the everyday command G ‘i him ‘Come here’, as well as in the question phrase Ba:pth ‘o hi:? ‘Where are you going?’.
The pronunciation of the verb him changes based on the “tense” where present and past ongoing statements use the full pronunciation him and past completed and future statements use the shortened form hi:
This statement changes if you are planning to travel by car or bus. When you want to say that you are going somewhere using a car or other rapid form of transportation you use the O’otham verb meḍ instead of him. Meḍ is the O’otham verb that translates as ‘to run’ or ‘travel by car’.
It is found in the command Meliñ! ‘Run!’ and can also be used to question where someone is going (if you know they are traveling by car or bus). If you want to ask someone where they are going (and you know they are traveling by vehicle) instead of asking Ba:pth ‘o hi:? in these situations you would use the verb meḍ and ask Ba:pth o me:?
To answer that question you would use the same type of phrase except that you would change the verb and say Vanth ‘o me: am nolavthakuḍ wui ‘I’m going (driving) to the store’. Just like with the O’otham verb him, we see that the verb meḍ changes based on “tense.” Present and past ongoing statements are pronounced with the full form of the verb meḍ, while past completed and future statements use the shortened form me:.
Vanth ‘o hi:/me: am nolavthakuḍ wui is a very useful statement that can be easily changed to fit other situations. The two important things to keep in mind are 1) how you plan on getting to your destination and 2) where you are going. We already covered the first on how you plan on traveling, whether by foot (hi:) or by car (me:).
This will determine which O’otham verb to use (hi: or me:). To change your destination all you need to do is replace the word for store (nolavthakuḍ) with the place that you are intending to travel.
You can think of the space where nolavthakuḍ sits as a slot that can be filled with any destination (Vanth ‘o hi:/me: am ___________ wui).
In that space you can place any O’otham place and create an entirely new phrase that is specific to where you are going. For example, if you want to say that you are going to walk to the courthouse you can say Vanth ‘o hi: am lo:thaithakud ki: wui.
If you want to say that you are going to drive to Sacaton you can say Vanth ‘o me: am Ge’e Ki: wui. So just knowing the means of travel (walking/car) and your destination you can customize this phrase to fit most situations.
One last thing to add, is that most speakers of O’otham will shorten the phrase in everyday conversation. The phrase Vanth ‘o hi: am nolavthakuḍ wui will often shorten by cutting off most of the first word Vanth to th and that portion that shortens will attach itself to the following ‘o.
This will turn the full formal phrase Vanth ‘o hi: am nolavthakuḍ wui into the everyday shortened form Tho hi: am nolavthakuḍ wui. O’otham ñeok, like every language, commonly shortens phrases for ease of communication.
The other examples discussed in this article would shorten in the same way, becoming Tho hi: am lo:thaithakud ki: wui. and Tho me: am Ge’e Ki: wui.
For this month’s article we will test to see how well you understood phrases for traveling by foot and by car. Read the examples and see if you can determine the means of travel (walking/car) and the destination. Here are a few clues to help. And remember to talk O’otham with your friends and family.
eñ ki:‘my house’
kokotham ha ki:‘hospital’ mi:sh ki:‘church’