Pliny Earle Goddard
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Pages (PDF): 74
Publication Date: 1904
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This is a collection of texts from the Hupa, who lived in Northern California, Humboldt County, on the Trinity River. The texts are unfiltered translations of stories related by Hupa at the start of the 20th century in an ethnographic context. They largely take place in a time before the arrival of human beings, populated by trickster gods and supernatural beings called Kīxûnai. The texts include a number of shamanistic formulas for healing, protection and good luck.
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This collection of texts is offered primarily as a basis for the study of the Hupa language, which seems to differ considerably from the other languages of the Athapascan stock in the Pacific division. Connected texts furnish the most satisfactory material from which to discover the structure of the grammar. Many verb forms and peculiar usages are met with in texts which one would never discover by questioning. The more delicate shades of meaning of individual words are brought out by the aid of texts.
In presenting the Indian text the usual form has not been followed for several reasons. The text has not been punctuated because it seemed best to leave it in such a form that others might construe it as they pleased. The interlinear and free translations show the author's interpretation of the original. Contrary to the prevailing custom, hyphens have been used, as it seemed of great importance to divide the words into syllables, especially in so highly synthetic a language where each syllable has considerable individuality. The usual method of employing diæreses to separate vowels not forming diphthongs interferes with diacritical marks, and leaves the affiliation of the consonants unindicated. The syllabication has been determined from a native speaker of the language in almost every instance.
Great confusion between quantity and quality of vowel sounds exists not only in English, but in German, French, and other continental languages as well. Length of time has been confounded with closeness of quality and shortness of time with openness of quality. The result has been that, with few exceptions, those who have recorded Indian languages have intended to mark the quantity, but they have really indicated only the quality of the vowel.
In the following texts the main effort has been to represent properly the quality of the sounds. The vowel ū with the macron, for instance, indicates the vowel which stands at the extreme of the vowel scale next to the semi-vowel w. It may be either long or short in quantity (the time occupied in speaking). The quantity has not been marked, partly because of the difficulty in determining duration by ear, and partly for lack of available characters. There seems to be no justification for considering all vowel sounds as falling into two divisions of length. To represent all shades of length is clearly impossible. In the Hupa language at least, the length of time spent in uttering the consonants, as well as the quantity of the vowels, is of some importance in determining the weight of the syllable. Notwithstanding these difficulties some attempt would have been made to represent a phase of speech so evidently important as that of time, had not means been at hand for a more perfect determination. By means of the Rousselot apparatus it is possible to determine within a few thousandths of a second, the time occupied by either a vowel or a consonant. About four thousand Hupa words have already been recorded with this apparatus. No attempt has been made to mark the relative pitch of the vowels in the texts of Indian languages so far published. The Rousselot machine reveals the pitch much more precisely than it can be fixed by ear.
The stress accent would have been marked had it existed as a fixed accent. Words of two syllables are often evenly stressed. Longer words usually have every second syllable stressed, but they are heard with the principal accent now here and now there. These matters of quantity, pitch, and stress are to be considered in a paper on the phonology of the Hupa language. A detailed study of the morphology, based on these texts, has furnished material for a paper now being prepared for publication.
The subject matter of these texts has been arranged in three divisions. First have been given a number of myths and tales. The first myth is evidently a composite. It is the nearest approach to a creation myth to be found among the Hupa. Several of the texts in this first division deal with important personages in Hupa mythology and are deemed by them to be worthy of serious consideration. Others are tales evidently intended to teach a moral. Number ix was no doubt told to young mothers that they might treat their children more kindly. The texts relating to the dances and feasts, which form the second part, were secured that it might be known what the Hupa himself thinks of the origins and purposes of his great religious ceremonies. The last portion of the collection consists of what may be called formulas for want of a better name. In their particular form they are perhaps peculiar to this culture area. These formulas may be thought to exert their power in one or all of three ways. The spirit of the recitor may be viewed as undergoing the journey and hardships undergone by the originator of the medicine and in a vicarious manner meriting favor; the good-will of the originator of the medicine may be aroused by the recital of his deeds; or the very words themselves may be thought to have the power of self-fulfillment.
Most of the texts here given were collected during two visits to the Hupa in the summer and fall of 1901. A few were obtained in the summer of 1902, and still others were added in October of the same year. The texts were taken down from the lips of the narrator in the presence of an interpreter who made sure that all was recorded in proper order. Interlinear translations were made with the aid of the interpreter. The words occurring in the text have since been carefully studied by comparing them with the same words occurring elsewhere in the texts. Especial study has been made of the verbs, as many forms as possible having been secured by questioning. No chances have been made in the texts in editing, except where errors of the ear or hand were evident.
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