Friday, March 28, 2008

poem for mien

electric blue on black
your art wakes me up

Saturday, March 22, 2008


So last night I learned the grammatical gender of whoopie pies in Passamaquoddy.

Because someone was on a snack search through my grocery bag, and the woman of the house (bean an tí, as they say in Irish) said:

No, nekom nihtol.
'No, that's his.'

In Passamaquoddy, nekom means both 's/he' and 'his/hers'.

Even more interesting, though, is the nihtol: it's the word 'that', in the special form that shows dependency of referential access---i.e. his whoopie pie, not just a discursively freestanding, independently-introduced whoopie pie---that my fellow Algonquianist linguists are wont to call the obviative.

Check my diss if you want to know more.

Now the obviative is only contrasted in Passamaquoddy for nouns of the so-called "animate" grammatical gender. So hearing nihtol applied to a possessed whoopie pie tells you that it's of that gender. Which is actually what I expected.

This is what I do for a living.