Apisa Hannali

"Lesson Six"
Okpulot Taha

isuba sa hapullo kopoli tuk! isuba sa hapullo sa kopoli tuk!

the horse bit my butt! the horse bit me on my butt!

I taught you about both animals, plants and other foodstuffs we love to eat and drink, a love to a point of almost all Americans being big fat ass Duroc hogs. Within this lesson six I will teach you about many different animals. However, my discussion of animals does not mean you will escape my longwinded lectures on Choctaw grammar and word etymology.

  isuba sa hapullo kopoli tuk! isuba sa hapullo sa kopoli tuk! 
  the horse bit my butt! the horse bit me on my butt!

Look close at this subtle one word difference in my two sentences. First sentence I use:

 sa hapullo kopoli 

and my second sentence I use:

 sa hapullo sa kopoli 

This is a subtle difference between "bit my butt" and "bit me on my butt". You may think this trivial nonsense but this is a difference between my horse biting my entire butt which is a huge mouthful or biting me on my big butt. When speaking English we know "bit my butt" and "bit me on my butt" mean precisely the same, which is sloppy language, just as fat ass Americans are lazy and sloppy. Speaking Choctaw requires precision in description if to speak Choctaw correctly and effectively; we are not a lazy fat ass sloppy peoples, least not those of us who are traditional American Indians.

You know our "sa" is a personal possessive pronoun referring to bloodline, marriage or body part, just as you know our "am" is a same pronoun but for ownership of something. Here is why I use "sa" instead of "am" in my second sentence.

Upon being bitten by my horse, his bite becomes my bite, becomes a part of me, a body part. I drop my overalls then point to my butt where you see a good size red welt where my horse bit me. This bite does not belong to my horse rather this bite belongs to me. This horse bite is now a part of my butt. This bite is a body part - "sa".

When I interpret to English: "The horse bit my butt. The horse bit me on my butt!"

In my native Choctaw tongue: "The horse bit my butt. The horse bit my butt and gave me my bite!"

While interpreting to English there is a need to dumb down our meaning so English speakers can understand. Our Chahta anumpa is a very high level use of language compared to the English language. English is for dummies, Choctaw is for smarties. English is baby talk, Choctaw is adult talk.

  luksi konih 
  louk-seeh koh-neh
  yumbak chito 
  youm-bahk chee-toh
  yakni bokli 
  yahk-knee bouk-leeh

I am a gopher. My husband frequently sends me to Home Depot. I gopher for this and that from Home Depot.

Gopher! Gopher! Gopher! Which word should you gopher? Well, go for a word which is used locally, go for a word which is a regional dialect. Researching and learning of Chahta anumpa etymology, word origin and history, can be a real stinker, can lead you down a meanering gopher hole much like following a meandering and branching creek!

A skunk is not welcomed around our homes. We like skunks but we do not want to keep company with a skunk although many of us girls are married to skunks. Worse is a skunk who swims around beneath ground making a mess of your garden, especially your carrots, onions and radishes. Our expression  luksi konih  makes good sense when you think like an American Indian. A turtle skunk, a gopher who digs and swims around underground like a turtle in Grassy Lake. Skunks dig for delights, roots, tubers and our carrots, onions and radishes as does a gopher. A turtle swims beneath water as does a gopher beneath earth. luksi konih  well describes what is a gopher. Researching our Choctaw words and our expressions leads you to better understanding Indian thinking which is highly pragmatic. Rather than create a word like "gopher" in English, we simply describe what is this thing whether living or otherwise. A description allows others to spot and recognize this thing.

Reminds me of teaching elementary level children. I am discussing big cats. I ask, "What does a puma look like?" A young girl raises her hand, I choose her, she prefectly describes a puma. "How big is a puma?" I ask. She holds up a hand then spreads a thumb and forefinger about two inches apart. She believes a puma is about two inches tall because she has only seen photographs of pumas and all pumas appear about two inches tall to her! This is a distinct disadvantage of English words, a lack of adequate description. In Enlish we "label" things. In Choctaw we "describe" things.

Our two other expressions for gopher also make good sense. You will note both are related to water.

yumbak chito  is a "great rain thing". Sense of "great" is not "big" rather "powerful" as in a spirit or an English "deity". Our word  chito  typically means "big" but can also mean "great" in a sense of ability or mysticism. Our word  yumbak  is worthy of research and study for excellent understanding. Remove "y" at beginning and remove "k" at ending -  umba  remains which means "rain". Our word "umba" is root for "yumbak". Use of a "y" sound at beginning signals this is a personal thing, a body part, signals this is a living thing. Use of "k" at end signals this thing "behaves like" the root word, umba or rain.

A gopher does behave like rain. When rain comes down, raindrops immediately soak into earth and vanish. A gopher does the same, he digs into earth then vanishes. Rain softens earth as does a gopher. During and after rain is when gophers are most obvious. Rain soaks earth making mud and rain soaks earth filling up gopher tunnels with water. A gopher instinctively knows to burrow close to earth surface to avoid mud and water filled tunnels. Near surface a gopher leaves behind furrows which look much like a meandering creek. Gophers seem to come with rain thus a "great rain thing".

A meandering dirt creek is a fitting description for a gopher. yakni bokli  is a dirt creek maker. This is gophers leave behind furrows at surface which look much like meandering creeks. Our word  yakni  means land, earth or dirt. For our word  bokli  remove "li" at ending. This leaves "bok" which is the root word. This "li" added at end signals "performs a physical action like the root word" which is "creek". Makes good common sense, a living thing which makes dirt look like meandering creeks. This well describes a gopher and there is no need to actually see a gopher to know when a gopher is around! A dirt meandering creek leads to your carrots, you pull your carrots and there is little left because a land creek maker ate your carrots!

I will again emphasize how important this is for you to carefully research and understand Choctaw words. You should now well understand why this is critical to leave behind English if to well speak American Indian tongues.

English labels things. Indian tongues describes things.

Which expression you use for "gopher" is easy to figure out. Use an expression which is known by those to whom you speak! More fun is to create a description of your own. You do not have to use an "official" Choctaw word or expression. Art of speaking Indian tongues is describing whatever thing about which you are talking.

na yakni oksanla hobachi okshinilli  -   "a thing which mimics a mouse swimming in dirt", said while making a "bucktoothed" face and making little earth digging claws.

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