Notes on Comparative Carrier Vocabulary
- bat [Lheidli]
- This term literally means "devil bird", with liyab "devil"
from French le diable. This indicates that Lheidli dialect replaced
its earlier word, presumably *t'az as in other dialects, within the
past two centuries.
- bat [Lhk'acho]
- In addition to what must be the ancient term t'az, in this
dialect bats are also called nezek'udutloh because they are said to
grab people on the mouth with their fingers.
- box [Ndazko]
- This word for "box" is probably related to Cheslatta hoonkwun
"fish box". It is cited for 19th century Nak'albun/Dzinghubun dialect
but is no longer in use in this dialect. It appears to be a loan from
a Tsimshianic language.
- Cattle are not indigenous to Carrier territory. This is a loan
from Cree mistos "buffalo". The reason for oo in the
Nak'albun/Dzinghubun dialect but u in the Southern dialects
- The words chuntulhi and tintulhi appear at first
glance to be cognate, but they are not. The phonological correspondance
chu/ti, though plausible, would be unique. Rather, these
two words seem to have different etymologies. Both mean "forest dog",
but are based on different words for "forest". chuntulhi is
based on chuntoh, meaning "among the trees", with chun
the stem of duchun "tree". tintulhi is based on tintoh
meaning "among the trails". Some dialects, such as Saik'uz,
have both words for "forest".
- The fact that we have u rather than oh or ah
before lhi reflects the historical source of the second morpheme
of "forest", which was originally tukh. As is not uncommon in
Carrier compounds, the kh was lost before the second member of
the compound. This elminated the environment for the later change
of u to o or a (depending on dialect)
before h (including those derived from kh).
- coyote [Cheslatta]
- In Cheslatta dialect, there are three words in common use for
"coyote". In addition to the true Carrier word chuntulhi,
both kayoti, borrowed from English, and
neyootse, borrowed from Wetsuwet'en, are in common use.
- coyote [Ndazko]
- This word is slightly unusual in that the compound is based on the
full modern form of "forest", so that we have chuntoh rather than
chuntu. This presumably reflects a restructuring of the form
to make its derivation more transparent, the presumed earlier form
*chuntulhi having become opaque.
- Comparison with other Athabaskan languages as well as evidence for the
internal history of Carrier indicates that the old word must be koo.
Even dialects that use a reflex of *yukh have traces of koo,
in such forms as koonk'et "at home". *yukh is found in all
dialects as a postposition meaning "inside", and in most as a noun meaning
- house [Lheidli]
- Although in this dialect yoh is not used for "house", it
is used with the meaning "building", and as such appears in numerous
compounds, such as tatnaibayoh "bar" and yoh 'udai
- knife [Lhk'acho]
- Although 'utes seems to be more common, tes
is also attested in this dialect.
- All of these words are loans from French le clou. The
unaspirated /k/ of French is interpreted as Carrier /g/, which is
also unaspirated and in many environments not voiced. However, the
cluster /gl/ is not native to Carrier, so in some dialects, evidently
those whose contact with French was less intense, /gl/ was replaced
with /dl/, which is native to Carrier. Younger speakers of dialects
marked as having /dl/ sometimes have /gl/, presumably borrowed from
other dialects of Carrier since they no longer have direct
exposure to French.
- Carrier dialects generally contain one or the other of two words
for "pig", both ultimately derived from French coche, an old French
word replaced by cochon in modern standard French. Most dialects
have a reduplicated form like gugoos, which probably entered Carrier
via Cree. A few have goso, which probably entered Carrier via
- pig [Cheslatta]
- Several words for "pig" are attested in Cheslatta dialect. One is
'anudis, which means something like "it roots around" and is formed
from Carrier morphemes. This is the only such native formation for "pig"
found in any Carrier dialect. The second is goso, heard from only
one informant. The third is googoos, heard from the majority of
- The word used in most dialects is a loan from Cree and
generally refers to precious metal as well as money.
- money [Cheslatta]
- This is a loan from Chinook Jargon, ultimately from Nuchanuulth.
Cheslatta people now also know and use the word soonuya used
in other dialects, but identify it as a relatively recent loan
into their dialect.
- The Nak'albun/Dzinghubun form lubret is a loan from French
le prêtre. The term used in the Southern dialects
nawhulnuk is a zero-nominalization of a verb meaning "he preaches,
he recounts". In the extensive material written in the Nak'albun/Dzinghubun
dialect by Father Adrien-Gabriel Morice, who lived in Fort Saint James
between 1885 and 1904, "priest" is always rendered nawhulnuk,
but today this is rejected as a Southern dialect form.
- priest [Cheslatta]
- In addition to the usual Southern Carrier word for "priest",
this dialect uses mosunyel, borrowed from French monseigneur,
possibly via Chinook Jargon. The equivalent word, in the forms
mosunyer and monsenyor, is used in the Nak'albun/Dzinghubun
dialect with the meaning "bishop".
- In those Southern dialects that distinguish singular from plural,
the forms like skui are singular and the plural takes the
The morpheme used for "child" in the Southern dialects is not absent
from the Nak'albun/Dzinghubun dialect. The unpossessed form in this
dialect is ts'oodun, which is not found in the other dialects,
but ts'oodun may not be possessed. The possessed stem is
skeh, as in suzkeh "my child". This is evidently
the cognate of the plural form in the Southern dialects.
- The difference between ts'eke and ts'ekoo is not a
matter of phonological correspondance. Rather, In the dialects in which
"woman" is ts'eke, the plural "women" is ts'ekoo, an irregular
plural. In some dialects, in which distinct plural forms of nouns are rare
or non-existant, the historical distinction between ts'eke and
ts'ekoo has been lost, and the old plural form generalized to
include the singular.
- eulachon fish
- In some dialects this consists of sle compounded with the
word for "fish". sle is of unclear origin, but may be a contracted
form of nasdle "it is running (upstream)". The same
element may appear in s(d)lenyoh "fish camp". In some other
dialects, the term for the fish is sbootih, borrowed from
Nuxalk (Bella Coola) sputci.
- eulachon oil
- In all dialects this term ends in ghe, the compounding stem
of khe "grease, oil". In some dialects the first element is
sle which also appears as the first element of the term for the
fish. In other dialects, the first element is tl'ina or tl'ena,
which is a loan from a North Wakashan language: Oweekyala, Heiltsuk, or
Haisla, in which it refers to the grease. The compound is, therefore,
from an etymological point of view, redundant.
- This is the tree Populus trichocarpa.
- fork [Lheidli]
- This term stands out in that it is based on a passive.
The term be'ooget used in most dialects means "the thing by means
of which one pokes at (unspecified object)". The Lheidli term means
"the thing by means of which something is poked at". Such instrumental
nominalizations are frequently based on passives, especially in Southern
dialects; what is unusual is that the other dialects have an active form
while only Lheidli has a passive.
- All of these terms for "mustard" mean "child feces" or "children's
feces", presumably after the color and texture
rather than the flavour. It is unclear why "mustard" is called
"children's feces" rather than "baby's feces", which would seem more
appropriate. The variation among dialects is due primarily to the variation
in the form of the word "child", though it is unexplained why some dialects
have a singular while others (Nak'albun, Tsetl'adak) have a plural.
- fork [Cheslatta]
- This is a loan from French la fourchette.
- The distribution of words for "what" is not as discrete as this
chart might suggest.
dant'i is not absent from the dialects in which it is
not the word for "what". In other dialects, it has the meaning
"what sort of". Similarly, dialects in which the normal word for
"what" is not di, whether dant'i or ndai,
all use di ka or di ha as their word for "why?".
This is analyzable as "for what?".
- In all dialects the basic morpheme for "hair" cited here refers
to body hair when used by itself. The hair of the head is invariably
expressed as a compound of this with "head".
Yinka Déné Language Institute © 2006