Reflexives: doing things by and to oneself

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1. Reflexives

=thut ‘self’ [reflexive (REFL)]

The reflexive suffix -thut on a verb indicates that the action was done to oneself or by oneself.

For example:

ya’thut! ‘Back up!’ (literally “back yourself up.”)

Many transitive verbs have reflexive equivalents.

ts’uy’hwt “dry it” ts’uy’hwthut “dry yourself”
thuyt “fix it” thuythut “fix yourself””
t’un’ut “line them up side” t’un’uthut! “Line up!”


2. Sewit’s Paddle Song



thuythut ee’! thuythut ee’! Fix up! fix up!
‘ushul ee’! ‘ushul ee’! Paddle!
luq’uthut ee’! luq’uthut ee’! Even up! Even up!
q’awuthut ee’! q’awuthut ee’! Use all your strength!
timuthut ee’! timuthut ee’! Try harder!
t’ukw’stuhw ee’! t’ukw’stuhw ee’! Take it home!

3. Reflexive meaning

The suffix =thut on active verbs adds the meaning ‘to do it to yourself’.

basic verb =thut
mulhwt ‘rub oil on it; grease it’ mulhwthut ‘rub oneself with something (oil, creme)’
mulhwt lhu thu qeq. ‘Rub the baby (with oil).’ ’i ’u ch malhwthut ’u tthu slhexun’? ‘Did you rub the medicine on yourself?’
tth’xwat ‘wash it’ tth’xwathut ‘wash oneself’
nem’ tth’xwat tthu ’i quliima’ ‘un’ s’itth’um. ‘Go and wash your clothes that are dirty.’ ni’ tth’xwathut. ‘He washed himself.’
hwulukw’t ‘wrap it up’ hwulukw’thut ‘wrap oneself’
hwulukw’t tseep tthu qeq ’u tthu luxwtun. ‘You all wrap the baby up in a blanket.’ ’i tsun hwulukw’thut ’u tthu luxwtun. ‘I wrapped myself with the blanket.’
hwuyt ‘wake s.o. up’ hwuythut ‘wake up’
nem’ hwuyt kwthun’ shuyulh, nem’ ts’u yaays. ‘Go wake your older brother, who has to go to work.’ hwuythut, na’uth wulh tsulel ’i’ tahw skweyul. ‘Wake yourself up, it’s almost noon!’
Table 1. Reflexive use of =thut.
basic verb =thut
kwthut make it lie down kwthuthut lie down
lemut look at lamuthut look at self, look after self
tl’amut try on tl’amuthut ‘try it on (self)’
tl’a’t stop him/her from crying tl’a’thut stop oneself from crying
tl’qw’ut wrap it up; tidy up; put outer clothing on someone tl’qw’uthut put on ones coat/gloves, get ready to go
muq’ut fill someone with food muq’uthut fill self with food
punust cover it with dust, flour, feathers punusthut sprinkle (sand/dirt) on self
p’lhiq’t move it closer p’lhiq’thut move (oneself) closer
t’un’ut line them up side by side t’un’uthut line selves up
wi’ult show, bring out wi’ulthut show oneself, come into view
xul’ts’t turn it, twist it xults’thut turn oneself around; turn over; spin


4. Meanings

Sometimes the corresponding English translation does not need “self”. Sometimes the Hul’q’umi’num’ meaning is specialized to a context.

Table 2. Specialized meanings of =thut.
q’a’t put it in with q’a’thut join (a group)
timut do it intensely timuthut try harder
t’e’t try it, taste it t’a’thut practice, try
matl’ut get even matl’uthut pay back
’ixw get swept away ’ixwuthut sweep
xtsut figure it out xtsuthut think, decide
kw’i’ climb kw’ukw’i’thut social climbing
huy’qwt burning it huy’qwuthut be feverish

5. Aspectual meaning

The suffix =thut is added to a descriptive verb, it mean that a change a state. It gets translated as ‘get’, ‘become’, ‘turn’ etc.

tth’ux ‘worn out’
wulh tth’ux tthunu stekun. ‘My sock is worn (i.e., has a hole).’
tth’uxthat ‘get worn down.’
ni’ wulh tth’uxthat tthu snuxwulhshun. ‘The tire got worn down.’
tth’uy’kw’t ‘startle s.o.’
ni’ tsun tth’uykw’t tthu smuyuth. ‘I startled the deer.’
tth’uykw’thut ‘get startled’
tth’uykw’thut tsun. ‘I got startled.’
Table 3. Aspectual use of =thut.
basic verb =thut
kw’am’kw’um’ strong kw’am’kw’um’thut get strong
thi big thithat get big
kw’es hot (get hot) kw’asthut warm up, get hot
tl’up ‘be deep, down below’ tl’upthat ‘get deep’
muqw thick, big around muqwthat thick, big around: getting big around
nets’ different, other (one), strange nats’thut change
tth’aqw’um rotten tth’qw’amthut turn rotten
’uya’th sharp ’uya’thut getting sharp


6. Pronunciations of =thut.

Usually the reflexive suffix does not have stress on it, and it appears as =thut. When the reflexive suffix has stress, it appears as =that with an /a/ vowel instead of /u/.

xuytl’ ‘cold’
xuytl’that ‘get cold’
xwum ‘fast’
xwumthat ‘become fast’

7. Change of Vowel with -thut

The reflexive suffix triggers a change in the vowel of the root from /e/ to /a/.

xetl’ ‘stormy’
xatl’thut ‘get stormy’
wensh ‘throw it’
wanshthut ‘throw yourself down’
t’e’t ‘try it, taste it’
t’a’thut ‘practice’
Table 4. More examples of change of the root vowel with =thut.
basic verb has /e/ reflexive has /a/
sle’t do with sla’thut do: what was done, what is to
le’lum’ut looking at it la’lum’uthut looking after self, be careful
yuw’en’ first, in front yuw’an’thut go ahead
hwet bring down, lower hwathut go down
si’em’ respected, wealthy si’am’thut up-and-coming, getting rich
lhexun’t medicate him/her lhaxun’thut medicate oneself