A painless lesson on s-ko’ok

July 21, 2017


Huhugam Heritage Center

Gila River Indian Community


The O’otham word s-ko’ok is used when talking about something that is hurting, aching or in pain. It is often used in association with your body (em honshpadag) either as a whole or some specific part that is suffering from some ailment. For example, to say that you have a headache in O’otham you would say s-ko’ok heg eñ mo’o.


This phrase starts off with s-ko’ok which here acts as a verb describing a state or condition, in this case that of being in pain. The rest of the phrase specifies to the listener who and what part of the body is experiencing the pain. In this example the two important parts that describe this are the possessive pronoun and the body part word.


The possessive pronoun here is the word eñ which here means “my” and tells the listener that it’s the person speaking who is hurting. The last word in this example is the body part which here is the O’otham word mo’o and refers to the head.


The phrase s-ko’ok heg ____ ____can be easily changed to talk about other body parts and can also be modified to talk about other people, simply by substituting the body part word or the possessive pronoun. For example, if you wanted to say that your elbow hurts you would substitute the O’otham word for elbow si:sh in the place of mo’o to come up with the new phrase s-ko’ok heg eñ si:sh.


Similarly, if you wanted to say your shoulder hurts you would just change the word si:sh for the O’otham word for shoulder, kothva, to come up with the phrase s-ko’ok heg eñ kothva. But let’s say you wanted to say that it wasn’t your shoulder hurting but instead was the shoulder of the person you were speaking to. In this case you would change the possessive pronoun which in the original sentence was eñ “my” and refers the person speaking to em “your” which is the possessive pronoun that refers to the person being spoken to.


This would result in the new phrase s-ko’ok heg em kothva which means “your shoulder is hurting.” If you wanted to talk about a third person (someone not in the conversation) you would get rid of the pronoun altogether and add a –j suffix to the body part term. This can be seen in the example s-ko’ok heg kothvaj which is the way to say “his/her shoulder is hurting” in O’otham. Notice that in this sentence there is no possessive pronoun word before the body part term and that the word for shoulder kothva has an added –j ending.


S-ko’ok can be used in other phrases. A very simple question in O’otham to ask someone if something hurts is No s-ko’ok? Incidentally this is also used to ask if something is hot in the sense of having a lot of chile as s-ko’ok is also used to describe the burn that one gets from eating chile.


The question does it hurt (No s-ko’ok?) in O’otham can also be made more specific by adding a body part word and personal pronoun. If you wanted to ask a person if their head hurts you could say No s-ko’ok heg em mo’o?. Just like in our original sentences we have a body part word mo’o ‘head’ as well as a personal pronoun em ‘your’ to make the sentence more specific.


If you wanted to ask if someone else’s head is hurting you can drop the pronoun altogether and add the suffix –j at the end of the body part term to come up with No s-ko’ok heg mo’oj? To ask if someone has a sore throat (if their throat hurts) you can say No s-ko’ok heg em ba’ithk? if you are directly speaking to them or No s-ko’ok heg ba’ithkaj? if you are asking someone else on their behalf.


Another useful question using s-ko’ok is asking someone where something hurts. To do this in O’otham you use the phrase Ba: hasko s-ko’ok? which literally asks “Where does it hurt?”. This question makes use of the O’otham word ba: which is the shortened form of the word hebai/hebi and means “where” as well as the word hasko which means “someplace.”


These two words are often used together when making questions that ask for a specific location. A simple reply to this question in O’otham uses the part of the body with the personal pronoun eñ followed by the location word eḍ.


For example, to say ‘in my head’ you would say eñ mo’o eḍ as a reply to the question Ba: hasko s-ko’ok?. So just by knowing the names for the parts of the body you can answer the question Ba: hasko s-ko’ok? and state whether it’s your head (mo’o), arm (nov), stomach (vo:k), leg (kayio), knee (tho:n) or foot (thaḍ) that hurts.