Questions galore! If you have been learning Grand Ronde / Southern style Chinook Wawa or out of an old dictionary, these may seem a little bit strange to you. Question words and the use of ‘pus’ are some of the ways the the dialects diverge. Check it out!
If you are familiar with Southern (Grand Ronde-style) Chinook Wawa you probably will be thinking that this use of pus is very strange. You’re probably saying “pus ikta means what??? It means why!” Well, not in BC it doesn’t! We don’t usually use the word ‘pus’ to mean ‘for’. Rather, ‘pus’ is paired with questions to show that the speaker isn’t sure that what they’re saying has actually happened or is true.
I would also like to add a special note about “When?”. The expression ‘kah son?’ is really referring specifically what day something happened – though personally I think we could get away with using it to generally mean “when?”. You will not find that ‘kansih’ (Grand Ronde spelling = qʰənchi) means “when?” in Chinuk Pipa documents at least. This is a Southern meaning of the word.
If you would like a very thorough explanation of this and much of the grammar we find in BC Chinook I strongly suggest you check out David Robertson’s PhD dissertation. It’s rather technical, but if you think you can handle it, it’s an amazing resource. You will find his discussion of these words on page 134. I also highly recommend you check out his website!