Huhugam Heritage Center

August 21, 2017


How are you feeling?


When you’re with someone that looks under the weather or want to find out how someone is feeling, a useful question in O’otham to ask is Sha: ‘em tha:hathag? 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?/Sha:p ai chu’ig? Sha:th e-ju?. Sha: is one of the two question words in O’otham that correspond to the English question word “What” (the other question word being Sha:chu).


The second word ‘em is the word that signifies ‘you’ and tells the listener that you are talking to him directly. If the situation ever arose where you needed to ask yourself “How am I feeling?” you would change the question to Sha: eñ tha:hathag.


Notice that instead of ‘em, now you’re using a different pronoun ‘eñ which here signifies that you are talking about yourself. And if you wanted to ask about someone other than yourself or 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 say Sha: tha:hathag heg Robert? (How is Robert feeling) or Sha: tha:hathag heg ‘em je’e? (How is your mother feeling?). The last word in this question is tha:hathag which is the O’otham word for feeling a certain way.


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? 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 or “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 that phrase I:vo añ sap eñ tha:hathag.


All of these phrases make use of the word sap ‘good, well’ 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.


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 while S-uam eñ tha:hathag is more intense and tells the person that you’re really not feeling well.


Some other possible answers to the question Sha: ‘em tha:hathag include S-ko:sim ‘anth if you’re sleepy, Gevko ‘anth if you’re tired and Eñ ge:sith anth if you’re really exhausted.


These types of phrases are all made by using the word that specifies how you’re feeling (s-ko:sim ‘sleepy’, gevko ‘tired’, ge:sith ‘exhausted’) 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 phrase Sha: ‘em tha:hathag. If you’re a learner ask an elder or speaker in your family about how they would say and answer the phrase.     

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 District 5 elders for sharing their knowledge of O’otham ñeok which made this article possible.