Sha: ‘em tha:hathag? How are you feeling?
During these unprecedented times, it’s important to check on one another concerning our physical health and mental well-being. When you’re with a family member who looks under the weather or want to find out how they are feeling, a useful question to ask in O’otham is “Sha: ‘em tha:hathag?” (How are you feeling?) This question is made up of three parts.
The first is the question word Sha: that speakers and learners might recognize from phrases like “Sha:p ai masma?” and “Sha:p ai chu’ig” Sha: is the question word in O’otham that correspond to the English question word (How?) The second word ‘em is the pronoun that signifies (you) and tells the family member that you are talking to them directly.
The last word in this question is tha:hathag which is the O’otham word for feeling a certain way. If you wanted to ask about someone other than the person you’re talking to (a third person) you would not use any pronoun but would instead say their name at the end of the question. For example, you could ask Sha: tha:hathag heg Victoria? (How is Victoria feeling?) You could also ask someone, “Sha: tha:hathag heg ‘em Je’e?” (How is your Mom feeling?).
You can make this question a bit more specific by adding a short phrase indicating the time of day that you are referring to. For example, if you are asking someone how they are feeling and it happens to be in the morning you could say “Sha: ‘em tha:hathag ithi sialig?” (How are you felling this morning?)
If it is midday you can change ithi sialig to ithi tham-juk to form the question “Sha: ‘em tha:hathag ithi tham-juk?” When it is the late afternoon you can use the phrase ithi mu’i-juk and if it is evening you can use ithi huduñig. Each of these short added phrases are made up of the O’otham word ithi (this) plus the time of day.
If you want to be non-specific with the time of day you can also use the phrase ithi thashkaj to ask “Sha:’em tha:hathag ithi thashkaj?” (How are you feeling today?) There are many ways to answer “Sha: ‘em tha:hathag?” and they all depend on how you are actually feeling.
The most common response that speakers will use, especially if they really don’t want to get into all the details of their life, is to simply say “Mañ s-ape!” (I’m good!) If you want to stress that you’re feeling happy you can say “Mañ sap eñ tha:hathag.” And if you’re really feeling happy and overjoyed over something you can use the phrase “I:vo añ sap eñ tha:hathag!”
All of these phrases make use of the word sap ‘good, well, okay’ in conjunction with the word tha:hathag to express that your feelings are good. If you’re on the opposite end and not feeling so well, you can tell the person “Bi ‘o shai ap eñ tha:hathag.”
This phrase is used as a general statement that says you’re not feeling well for whatever reason, whether it is because you might be under the weather or sad or not in a good mood. If you wanted to be more specific and tell someone that you’re sad or feeling blue you can say “Shoig eñ tha:hathag.” (I’m feeling sad.) If you’re sick you can either use the phrase “Mumku ‘añ,” or “S-uam eñ tha:hathag,” depending on how immediate or severe your sickness.
“Mumku ‘añ.” is used as a general statement to tell another person that you’re sick. “S-uam eñ tha:hathag,” is more intense and tells the person that you’re really not feeling well.
Some other possible answers tothe question “Sha: ‘em tha:hathag?” include “S-ko:sim ‘anth,” if you’re sleepy, and “Gevko ‘anth,” if you’re tired. These types of phrases are all made by using the word that specifies how you’re feeling (s-ko:sim ‘sleepy’ and gevko ‘tired’) along with the O’otham auxiliary‘anth which indicates that the subject of the sentence is the person speaking.
Finally, you can always use the phrases “Biu:gim ‘anth,” and “Thonom ‘anth,” when you want to let the other person know that you’re hungry or thirsty. These responses are formed in the same way, using the words biu:gim (to be hungry) and thonom (to be thirsty) along with the auxiliary word ‘anth which tells the listener that you are referring to yourself.
There are many more possible ways to answer the question “Sha: ‘em tha:hathag?” If you’re a learner, ask an elder or speaker in your family about how they would ask and answer the question. Questions and answers may be slightly different between the villages. We encourage you to speak O’otham in your everyday lives.
This month’s word match will give you more practice on using the question and ways to answer “Sha: ‘em tha:thag?” A special Thank You for the Vah-Ki District Elders for sharing their knowledge of O’otham ñeok which made this article possible.