Language is such a beautiful thing. We use it to communicate our situations, our hopes, our disappointments, our surprises, our feelings, our dreams, our joys, and so many other things. I was traveling along with my family today and the thought occurred to me about idioms in the English language and how they might sound in the Potawatomi tongue.
For example, how would I express the terms, Oh my word? Or my goodness? Or Kick the bucket? Hang one’s head?
Oh my word: Hau nin kedwen! or Oh my goodness: Hau nin mnones! Kick the bucket: Degshkan i zindi! Hang one’s head: Ndegodon se iw dep!
Those are just a few things I thought on but one can see when one attempts to use them in the Potawatomi vernacular, they make no sense. We say, Watiya, or simply Teya as men, and women might say, Mamkatgemek. We might even say, ngi mamkazyan ektot o shkenwe: I am amazed at what that young man said. We might say something like, ngi mamkadendem egi zhechkewat gi nenwik: I was surprised at what those men did. Shkwenwewze is another word to register surprise, meaning he/she is surprised. Nminawenma; to be amazed by someone, or nminawendan; to be amazed by something.
Just those few thoughts today….
Here are a few examples of what English idioms look like in the Potawatomi vernacular.
Nagdon i debazimgek mine egajdeyak – Follow the straight and narrow
Noch mesgeso ngot peneshi etkwenayek, nish je peneshiyek shi mtegoskik – A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush
Nagdon i gjash – Follow your nose
Gego zgebdemoken i nech eshmegwyen – Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
Ebwawabmayek, ebonenmayek – Out of sight, out of mind
Gete’ skongemgok wjebyewak – He’s from the old school
Meyew esek shi eje kgadzimgek. – Road to riches
Ge’te ziwtagen yawe – He’s an old salt
Gego shewebdene i wjash – He has nose trouble
Mayosek mine nemoshek eshe gmowek – Raining cats and dogs
Mano geshgeshnowek nemoshek nebatthek – Let sleeping dogs lie.
Gmyanes – You’re bad!
Nde myanes – I’m bad!
Nde myanes se i ken – I’m bad to the bone
Ni je she shpemek – Whazzup?
Cho she gego apje – Nothing much.
Gwi gbe’ gotth ge’ men ngoji – We’ll just hang out somewhere
Mnekwewgemek oje – Bar fly!
Nde keweziyem – My old man.
Nde demopi – My cute little old lady.
Gshate wbetot – hot to trot
Eshe bmebset o andek – as the crow flies
Eje pkwenek shkwede shi temget – where there’s smoke, there’s fire
Bwamshe dapkwnet gwich bemades ngot dbegen she bmesen shi wmeksenek – Before you judge your fellow man, walk a mile in his moccasins
Nej nebyagewen temget shi bmetsebek – The handwriting’s on the wall
Keko gimotken bkan nene edat – Don’t steal another man’s castle
Ekenid bsek wigedo shech gade – Haste makes waste
Keko shegwaskneken shi egishakwnegek – Don’t jump to conclusions
Keko zgeptemken i nej eshmegweyen – Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
Mayosek mine nomoshek she gmeya – Raining cats and dogs
Eshi gyebigwet o bebishagnegwe – Blind as a bat
Demagmeshi bimskwegen – monkey wrench
Demagmeshi mijem – banana
Kego moken siksek i dodoshabo – don’t cry over spilled milk
Moyen nsheke shna gwi mo – cry and you cry alone
Shomigwe nwiyen ké gwi wich shomigwe nwim – Smile and the world smiles with you
Ni wepodan i myew – I’ll hit the road
Nwi o baskzan i ébmanmek – I’m going to go shoot the breeze
Mbiwe shna o – he’s all wet
Gi ngeton I wdep – he/she lost his head
Kego myano doneshéken – don’t bad mouth me
Gawa she ngi ski bwe we ewi shabshkeman – I just barely squeaked through
Negdosha mingoyen gego kanabdemwaken i wdon – Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Wewene she wchemyamget shi negdosha wdonek – Straight from the horse’s mouth
Kego gemaken gde bidimek bwamshe bashka’wewat – Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
Éyaptepok – an old saying – that time of winter
Mjemendem – keep in mind (sing)
Mjemendemok – Keep in mind (pl.)
Gda mjemendamen shna – we should keep it in mind
Kche – big huge large
Mojiw debewyawe – he’s a poop head
Pejagdebewyawe – he’s a dick head
Mgabewze – he/she is huge/fat
Mgabewzik – they are huge/fat
Génokét – liar
Géno Yashmojet – liar
Jo she wi chikwado jayek ni tadownen – He’s not playing with a full deck
Nebiwet kwese yawe – He/she’s a wet hen
Shegnos kajmoshi wjashik – He/she’s lying through his/her nose
Genosimgek yajmownen – tall tales
Wge kibengwegen i dbandewen – he/she is blinded by love
Batashen shi shpemek – he/she is stuck up
Apje shna shpemek she bimskwenwi – He’s all screwed up
Ngi geskago embge gsedeyan – I was caught flat footed
Ngi geskago emskwenjiyan – I was caught red-handed
Gego shna she yawe – he/she is something else
Gego shna gdaw – You’re something else
Ahau i ye i etetebasiyan: Ok, that’s how I roll!