Poem: Lady who sings

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’een’thu thu slheni’ ’i t’ilum
I’m the woman who sings

by Donna Gerdts with help from Ruby Peter

and read by Delores Louie

’een’thu thu slheni’ ’i t’ilum.
mukw’ netulh ’i’ t’ilum tsun.
t’ilutst tsun thu sum’shathut.
t’ilutst tsun tthu smunmunut.

I am the lady who sings.
Every morning I sing.
I sing to the sun.
I sing to the mountains.

’een’thu thu slheni’ ’i t’ilum.
mukw’ skweyul ’i’ t’ilum tsun.
t’ilutst tsun tthu staluw’.
t’ilutst tsun tthu thuthiqut.

I am the lady who sings.
Every morning I sing.
I sing to the river.
I sing to the trees.

’een’thu thu slheni’ ’i t’ilum.
mukw’ hwune’unt ’i’ t’ilum tsun.
t’ilutst tsun tthu kwasun.
t’ilutst tsun thu lhqel’ts’.

I am the lady who sings.
Every evening I sing.
I sing to the stars.
I sing to the moon.

’een’thu thu slheni’ ’i t’ilum.
nan tsun ’uw hwst’ilum.
mukw’ stem ’uw’ t’it’ulutsteen’.
hay ch q’u ’u tthuw’ mukw’ tumuhw.

I am the lady who sings.
I’m very much a singer .
To all things I am singing.
Thank you to everything on earth.


Language lesson

We love to use short poems such as these for teaching. While most stories quickly get into some very complicated sentences structures, lines of poems are usually quite short and uncomplicated, so poems are great for starting out when you are first learning to read Hulquminum.

Even though this poem is quite short, there are many things you can learn about the Hulquminum language by studying it.

Nouns and their gender

gender is marked on the determiner (word meaning the in English)

Use thu  for feminine and tthu for masculine and plural.

(A female person is marked thu, but sometimes speakers also use thu for the objects in the natural world or other objects.)
thu slheni’ the lady (feminine)
thu sum’shathut | the sun (feminine)
tthu smunmunut|the mountains (plural) of smeent
tthu staluw’| the river
tthu thuthiqut | the trees (plural) of thqet
tthu kwasunthe stars (plural), no morphology needed for this noun to mean plural
thu lhqel’ts’the moon (feminine)
tthu tumuhw | the earth

Different ways of expressing the meaning of “I”

Expressing First Person
’een’thu =  emphatic pronoun
tsun =  leaning subject marker
-een’  = the subordinate suffix

Different forms of the verb “sing”
t’ilum = intransitive verb  “sing”
t’ilutst Add ts– and –t to make a transitive verb, “sing to someone/something”
t’it’ulutst = progressive form “singing to someone/something” (formed by reduplication).

hwst’ilum Adding prefix hws– makes it a habit: to be a singer”.

mukw’ means ’every’, ’each’, ’all’
mukw’ netulh | every morning
mukw’ skweyul | every day
mukw’ hwune’unt | every evening
mukw stem | everything
tthuw’ mukw’ tumuhw | all the earth

Relative clauses
Like English, the head noun comes first and the relative clause follows.

thu slheni’ [’i t’ilum]
the lady [who sings]

Unlike English, Hul’q’umi’num’ doesn’t need a relative pronoun like who or that.

Linking time phrase with  ’i’  and 

mukw’ skweyul ’i’ t’ilum tsun.
I sing every day.

Time phrases used as adverbials can appear at the beginning of the sentences, and when they do they are followed by the conjunction particle ’i’  and .

So literally, you say “everyday and I sing”