E2: Kues k'ew?
"What's your name?"

A little about traditional Yurok naming & start your Yurok language learning journey at Village 1, House 1 from the Village Learning Pathway

✍🏾 Have a question about Yurok language or want to provide feedback about the podcast? 

Click here --> Yurok Language Request Form⁠

🎤 Intro/Outro Sing-a-long video:
Click here --> 'Eyk-s'os, Huen-keyk'-s'os!

Learn more about the Village Learning Pathway

📱Practice Village Learning Pathway skills on Memrise

Listen Here

Timestamps by Title

Pod Intro 0:00- 0:42

Traditional Naming in Yurok 0:43-6:05

Intro to first lesson 6:06-6:57

Lesson begins 6:58-7:15

Village 1, House 1 begins 7:16-8:25

First question phrase: "What are you called?" 8:26-8:58

Yurok Phonics: -ew- 8:59-9:32

Yurok Phonics: Yurok S 9:33-10:21

Yurok Phonics: clicky k' 10:22-11:44

No Pressure Refresher (NPR 1) 'new "I am called" | Kues k'ew "What are you called?" 11:45-12:29

What is he/she/it called? 12:30-13:06

Final NPR 13:07-14:06

Episode 2 Outro 14:07-16:27

Full Transcript [closed caption]

Pod Intro 0:00- 0:42

Welcome to Episode 2 of the Yurok Tribe Language Program’s “Yurok in 20!” Podcast.

The purpose of this podcast is to provide a space for Yurok language learners to listen to elder audio, follow along with short lessons, practice speaking and listening to Yurok language, and touch upon Yurok culture as it relates to what we’re learning.

Each episode will be 20 minutes or less, so please join us as you’re cleaning, working out, or driving to work.

Here in Episode 2, we’re gonna start learning about how to introduce ourselves in Yurok.

Cho’ saa-’a-go-che’-moh. “Let’s speak Yurok together.”

Traditional Naming in Yurok 0:43-6:05

Brit: As with many things, traditionally, naming worked differently than it does today. A Yurok person could have many names throughout their life and even be known by different names from person-to-person. If you are revisiting this episode, you can jump right to timestamp 6:58 if you’d like to go straight to the lesson. Let’s listen to our Collections Coordinator, Barbara McQuillen, speak a little bit about traditional naming.  

Barbara: When children were born, traditionally, we didn’t name our children for 10 days.  

Brit: Many Yurok families still follow this traditional practice. So, Barbara, what are some of the ways Yurok children got their name?

Barbara: Yurok names for boys sometimes were just kind of silly names, same for little girls, that were words that didn’t really mean anything, they were just names or they could call a little girl Herk’-werh ‘o ‘wah, “Rabbit’s wife,” a little boy, Pek-won ‘o ‘wah like“be married at Pek-won.” Well, we know little boys don’t get married. It was just kind of a cute little thing. A playful thing to do.When a child was married, say a boy was married, their name would change. He would drop that childhood name, have a new name, and it could be into the village that he was married into or the name of his village.

Brit: So, as your life circumstances changed, your name would change. What were some other ways that adults would be named?

Barbara: If a man had a house, he could be named after that house in the village that he came from. Lagoon George was called that, he was K’ee ‘o ket’-oh, meaning the man from the lagoon.

Brit: Yeah, my great-great grandfather. 

Barbara: A lot of times men would take names of things that they were known for, if they did something well, a dance leader or something, they would be called by that name. Like Tue-rep meyg-wo-lah, he was the head man, the medicine man for the Deerskin Dance and the Brush Dance in that village, so he would take that meyg-wo-lah which means “he’s a dance leader” in that village. If a man didn’t own a house, he would take the name of the wife’s house, from the village that she came from. It could be like Pek-won ‘o wah, means “he’s married at Pek-won”  or whatever village it is but he’d take the name of the wife’s village, the house or the village. If the man was known as Pek-won ‘o ‘wah and he moved somewhere else, he would not take the name of that village, he would still be called Pek-won ‘o ‘wah. Brittany, did you wanna add anything?

Brit: Marriage and family life also just worked differently then. At this point in your life you could have been called by several names. So far, we’ve talked about your first name, your childhood name, som e of the ways you could be named as an adult. You could be called something in your later years, in your elderhood. So, the old man of such-and-such place or the old woman of such-and-such place, the widow of so-and-so, or the widow of a certain place. Can you explain a little bit about how we would refer to people after they’ve passed on? That last stage of life. 

Barbara: In Yurok culture, people aren’t supposed to mention somebody’s name after they pass on. It’s kind of traditionally known in Yurok country that you don’t talk about somebody after they’ve passed on and  to not say their name for a long period of time. That family that’s grieving, you don’t show disrespect by saying their name. 

Brit: Of course today we have namesakes and we have pictures and videos of our loved ones that are gone so a lot of people will say ‘aa-wokw, ‘aa-wokw before somebody’s name that’s passed away. And you know we’ll hear it in English as well. We’ll hear people saying “poor so-and-so” or “poor sister,” ” my poor grandma.” So were there other ways people were named, maybe outside of stages of life or ages?

Barbara: If you were talking about somebody that spoke a different language. You could call them saa’agochehl, the ones that speak Yurok or tolowehl the ones that speak tolowa and you could refer to them like that. 

Brit: Your name could be given to you by how you age, how you have a change in  life circumstances like getting married or being widowed, by where you come from or you marry into, something you were known for. 

Barbara: Yeah, and names would change. You would have to be part of the conversation sometimes cuz several people could have the same name. You would have to know who you’re talking about, whether this ‘young man from Tue-rep’ did something and everybody knew when you talked about Tue-rep ‘o cheen you knew you were talking about that particular young man from Tue-rep. I don’t think we could get away with it today, changing our names, because we have all these legal things that we have go b y and given names that are on all of our documents and stuff so to go back that way traditionally would be kind of hard. 


Brit: Thank you, Barbara for sharing about traditional naming. It’s always a treat to learn more about how things were done before contact and in the traditional way of life. 

Intro to the first lesson 6:06-6:57

Brit: As we touched on earlier, saying the name of someone’s relative that’s passed away is considered a great offense and in Yurok culture, when you offend someone you should make payment to them to settle up the dispute. In Yurok culture, once payment is made for an offense, it’s never brought up again so both parties can move forward. It’s part of our Law. We really like to share elder audio as often as possible and to credit those that that put so much time into the documentation of our language. As mentioned earlier, for those that have passed away, we’ll say ‘aa-wokw either before or after their name out of respect for their relatives and their loved ones. It’s almost like a trigger warning for people that you’re going to speak someone’s name that’s gone. This is still really common practice and you’ll hear people doing it in English as well, “poor so-and-so”... Let’s get into our first lesson. 

Lesson begins 6:58-7:15

Brit: First word you’re gonna hear is the word for “I am called” ‘new. From here on, when you hear the sound of this necklace [necklace sound] it means you’re about to hear a first-language speaker pronunciation and when you hear this tone [repeat tone] it means it’s your turn to repeat what you’ve heard. 

Village 1, House 1 begins (I am called) 7:16-8:25

Brit: Let’s hear ‘new “I am called” pronounced by ‘aa-wokw Jimmie James. 

Poor Jimmie James: [necklace sound] ‘new (x2)

Brit: I am called. [repeat tone] ‘New. (x3) I am called Brittany. [repeat tone] ‘New, Brittany. (x3) Now try replacing “Brittany” with your own name. [Repeat tone] ‘New, Brittany. [pause] Nue-mee skue-yen’, that’s really good! In Yurok, word order can be flexible sometimes. In this case you can say ‘new, Brittany or Brittany ‘new. Try it out! Remember to replace “Brittany” with our own name. [Repeat tone] ‘new, Brittany [pause]. Brittany ‘new [pause].  

First question phrase: “What are you called?” 8:26-8:58

Brit: Ok! Let’s move on. You can always check the show notes for timestamps if you want to go back and practice ‘new some more. Here’s your first question phrase: “What are you called?”  

Poor Georgiana Trull: [necklace sound] Kues k’ew? (x2)

Brit: What are you called? [repeat tone] Kues k’ew? (x3)

Yurok Phonics: -ew- 8:59- 9:32

You might be starting to notice that we’re using sounds that don’t exist in English. Let’s practice them. The fist sound we’re gonna practice is the -ew- sound. -ew- (x3). You can hear it in ‘new and then again in k’ew. In episode 1, we introduced the Yurok Language Program crew. One of our teachers, James, he calls this sound the Elmer Fudd sound because Elmer Fudd always says “wew.. Wew… wew…” [Elmer Fudd sound clip]

Yurok Phonics: Yurok s 9:33-10:21

The next sound we’re gonna talk about is the Yurok s. This sound is still really prevalent in Yurok people, even in English. So you’ll hear sometimes people will say “pepsi” but they’ll say “pepsi” so it’s a slight difference there, but in English s is like “sss” your mouth is a little bit tighter together and a Yurok s is more like [Yurok s sound]. So your jaw is a little bit more forward and your teeth are a little bit closer together. It’s not quite a “shh” sound but it’s kind of in between an English “ssss” and and English “shhh” so it’s right in the middle there [yurok s sound] so you can hear it in the word kues (x3).

Yurok Phonics: clicky k’ 10:22-11:44

The last sound that we’re gonna focus in on is the k’ sound. We sometimes call it a “clicky k” and when we write in Yurok, we use an ‘ to mark the glottal. Glottal just means your stopping sound–it’s a glottal stop. You’re stopping sound, you’re stopping air. Sometimes we call it a “clicky k” because it sounds like [k’ sound]. First let’s make a regular k sound as in kues–k, k, k–and then if we hold our breath we can make a k’ or a “clicky k”--k’, k’, k’. If we compare the k and the k’ it sounds like k vs k’. So you can hear that one is more breathy and the other has no air. K, k’ Regular k as in kues. “Clicky k” as in k’ew. Kues k’ew? Kues k’ew?So here’s your challenge, as you’re listening and you’re learning keep an ear out for those -ew-, the yurok s sound, and that “clicky k’ sound”

No Pressure Refresher (NPR): ‘new “I am called” and Kues k’ew? “What are you called?” 11:45-12:29

Now it’s time for a No Pressure Refresher [rewind sound] .I am called. [Repeat tone] ‘new. I am called Brittany [Repeat tone] ‘new Brittany, Brittany ‘new. What are you called? [Repeat tone] Kues k’ew?

What is he/she/it called? 12:30-13:06

Let’s add the last bit of vocabulary for this episode: What is he/she/it called? Poor Georgiana Trull: [necklace sound] Kues ‘wew? Brit: Yurok has no gender in the 3rd person so you canuse this for anyone or anything that you’re asking the name of. What is he called [repeat tone] kues ‘wew (x3)

Final NPR 13:07-14:06

Let’s do our final No Pressure Refresher [rewind sound] I am called [repeat tone] ‘new (x3) I am called Brittany [repeat tone] ‘new Brittany, Brittany ‘new. What are you called [repeat tone] Kues k’ew? (x2). What is he called? [repeat tone] Kues ‘wew? What is she called? [repeat tone] Kues ‘wew? What is it called? [repeat tone] Kues ‘wew?

E2 Outro 14:07-16:27

Thank you so much for spending your time learning Yurok with us. We’re really excited to be able to share with you on this platform. I’d like to give a special thanks to Barbara McQuillen for sharing some information on traditional naming. You can listen to a longer, video version about naming in our Virtual Classroom. I’ll link it in the show notes. I’d also like to express our love and gratitude for all the first-language speakers that worked tirelessly to preserve and document our language. We continue to learn from them every day. Any elder audio that I add will be noted in the timestamps in the show notes. This episode marks the beginning of our Village Learning Pathway, a system we use for scaffolded learning that begins in upriver Yurok territory. Each village is a unit of learning and within the village there are houses, which are bite-size lessons. You’ll learn more and more Yurok as you make your way down the river toward the mouth. Check the show notes for a link for more information about our Village Learning Pathway. If you’re excited to learn more Yurok, check out www.yuroklanguage.com and make sure to follow us on social media. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  If you’d like to be a part of our email listserv, I’ll add my email in the show notes as well. Our Yurok language event calendar shows all in-person, hybrid, and virtual learning opportunities. Check out the show notes for a link. Thanks again for listening. To learn more about the Yurok Language Program staff, listen to Episode 1. In Episode 3, you’ll learn two survival phrases and then use them for a comprehension check about what you’ve learned here in Episode 2. Keep listening for more from the Village Learning Pathway, elder audio recordings, cultural connections, Yurok phonics, Yurok language songs, scripted episodes where you can practice listening to real-time fluid conversations, and Yurok language request episodes where we answer real Yurok language learner questions. If you’d like to submit a question of your own, find the Yurok language request form link in the show notes. 

To’ kee te-ge-rew. “We’ll talk again.”

[‘Eyk-s’os, Huen-keyk’-s’os outro song]