Wintu

update: glosses.net has been abandoned since 2007. author was Renee Perelmutter. hen a doctoral student at UC Berkely Slavic department.

I’m reading Glasses.net (Loved the original design, this new layout is equally excellent). Here is an interesting entry on Wintu: Wintu-2.
The Wintu language was spoken in Northern California by the Native Americans. They were distributed along the upper Sacramento river, in the counties of Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou.

Some interesting quotes used in the article:

to the Wintu, the terms ¡°left¡± and ¡°right¡± refer to inextricable aspects of his body, and are very rarely used. I think that only once the term left occurs in my texts, referring to a left-hand mythical hero; I cannot remember any occurrence of the term for the right. When the Wintu goes up the river, the hills are to the West, the river to the East; and a mosquito bites him on the west arm. When he returns, the hills are still to the west, but, when he scratches his mosquito bite, he scratches his east arm. The geography has remained unchanged, and the self has had to be reoriented in relation to it.

among the Wintu¡­ the principle of inviolate integrity of the individual is basic to the very morphology of the language. Many of the verbs which express coercion in our language ¨C such as to take the baby to (the shade) or to change the baby ¨C are formed in such a way that they express cooperative effort instead. For example, the Wintu would say, ¡°I went with the baby¡±, instead of, ¡°I took the baby¡±. [..] They never say, and in fact they cannot say, as we do, ¡°I have a sister¡±, or a ¡°son¡±, or ¡°husband¡±. Instead they say, ¡°I am sistered¡±, or ¡°I live with my sister¡±. To live with is the usual way in which they express what we call posession, and they use this term for everything they respect, so that a man will be said to live with his bow and arrows**

Interesting, isn’t it? They show so much more respect for their surroundings. Self must reorient according to the land. How about their indifference for possession? It is almost moving to read this. But there are only 6-10 Wintu speakers left in the entire US! 🙁 If “the fittest survive” is true, that shows “love for the environment and all men are equal” won’t prevent you from being conquered and absorbed by a “lesser” culture (lesser in the sense of being civilized). More over, the “lesser” culture thought people spoken such a language was barbaric.