The point of this story is to explain the name for the area in which the town of Fort Saint James is now located. The explanation given here is that it is a contraction of a phrase meaning "it flowed off with the arrows of the Little Dwarves". The full form of this phrase would be ('Ut)na(neyaz)k'a (bulh ti)zdli. The parenthesized portions are those that would have to be deleted in order to obtain the actual place name. Some people question this explanation for the name since the contraction necessary is not the result of any regular phonological rules of Carrier or of any attested systematic historical change. The alternative etymology is that Nak'azdli consists of Nak'al "Mount Pope" plus the suffix zdli "outlet of a body of water", this suffix being a contraction of the full noun tizdli "outlet", which in turn is the nominalization of a verb of the same form meaning "it begins to flow". Many place names are formed with this suffix. If the noun to which they are attached ends in a consonant, as does Nak'al, the initial /z/ of the suffix is deleted. On this account, the meaning of Nak'azdli would be "the place near Mount Pope where water begins to flow". If this is correct, the story about warfare with the 'Utnaneyaz, while recording what is no doubt a historical event, would not be the actual explanation for the name of the place.
This form is hudidohne in the modern language. This is the result of two systematic changes in the language that have taken place in the past 100 years. First, /kh/ has merged with /h/ in all positions except for (a) stem-initial and (b) in the outer layer of disjunct prefixes. Examples of the preservation of /kh/ in stem-initial position are khuni "word, language", khe "grease", and khit "winter", which still have initial /kh/. Examples of the preservation of /kh/ in the outer layer of disjunct prefixes are khunadli "he is looking after himself" and khuntakhulh "it drops off steeply into the water". This last example also illustrates the preservation of /kh/ at the beginning of a verb stem. Examples of this type are very rare since voiceless fricatives like /kh/ are not normally found at the beginning of verb stems. One of the places in which /kh/ has become /h/ is therefore the third person duo-plural subject prefix with which khudidukhne begins. Since this is a conjunct prefix, the /kh/ became /h/. The second /kh/ in also changed to /h/ because it is at the end of verb stem, not the beginning. The other historical change is in syllables that originally ended in /uh/, including those in which the /uh/ is derived from earlier /ukh/. In this dialect as in most dialects, these now end in /oh/. A similar example is keyoh "territory", which used to be pronounced keyukh. In the western dialects (Stellakoh, Cheslatta, Ulkatcho, and Lhoosk'us), syllables ending in /uh/ changed to /ah/ rather than /oh/. For example, these dialects have keyah for "territory".
The stem here is 'utna, which normally refers to non-Athabaskan Indians, especially the Gitksan, Nisga'a, Tsimshian, and Haisla. The suffix -ne is the human plural. The suffix -yaz means "little". The form therefore appears to mean "the little non-Athabaskan Indians". The term is often translated as "the Dwarves" because the people were said to be short, but the Carrier word emphasizes the fact that they were foreigners. It is likely that this story, and other related stories, refer to conflicts with the Gitksan or related Tsimshianic-speaking people.
This particle, which at present usually takes the form lhih rather than ulhih, is placed after a verb to form the customary aspect. It may therefore usually be translated by the adverb "customarily". Many Carrier verbs have a customary aspect form, marked by the use of a special form of the stem. For example, nuts'uke means "we are going around in a boat", while nuts'ukih means "we customarily go around in a boat". Here kih is the customary stem. When a verb lacks a distinct customary stem, customary aspect may be indicated by means of the particle (u)lhih.
The modern form is huyenenelhtso due to the sound change described in Note on Change of /kh/ to /h/. This is an instrumental relative verb form modifying the noun k'a "arrows", with which it forms a relative clause meaning "the arrows by means of which they shot". The usual form of the instrumental prefix, used to derive from verbs nouns meaning "the thing by means of which V", is be-. However, this prefix has a singular obviative form ye-, used when the subject of the verb is third person singular, and a plural obviative form huye- used when the subject of the verb is third person plural, as in this case. The reason that an instrumental form is needed here is that the verb "to shoot" here is, strictly speaking, intransitive. k'a "arrows" is not a direct object, but rather is the means by which shooting is done.
This is the old form of Nak'azdli. Unlike most of the other historical changes mentioned in these notes, the change of syllables ending in ung to i took place during the nineteenth century. Mr. Prince himself did not normally say Nak'azdlung; he is explaining that even to him this is the old pronounciation. The nature of this change is too complex to explain here, but the key to it is that these syllables originally ended in palatal nasals (as in Spanish Español).
The more obvious translation of this is "we (three or more) say/call". However, what is now the first person plural subject prefix ts'- originally marked the indefinite subject; although not terribly common, it has kept this function.
ndi khuni
The position of the noun phrase ndi khuni "this word" is not normal, as Carrier is fairly rigidly verb-final. Mr. Prince evidently added this phrase as an afterthought.


Yinka Déné Language Institute © 2006