Chinook Jargon – Chinuk Wawa

Here’s a new blog.  Chinook Jargon is what I’m actively working on at the moment.  (It’s called Chinuk Wawa in the language.)  I used to run the CHINOOK listserv–which remains a great research resource!–but am moving into linguistics blogging.   I welcome discussion.

What inspired me to launch this blog was reading a cute little book from 1937 by Sophie Frye Bass: “Pig-tail days in old Seattle”.  (Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort.)  Frye was the author’s maiden name, and her grandfather was pioneer Arthur Armstrong Denny, facts relevant to anecdotes in the book.  The illustrations are stylish 1930s inked cartoons, like the cover illustration.  (The copy I’m reading has a yellow hard cover using a different illustration, of two little girls also used on page 114 at the end of the Mercer Street chapter.)  The theme of the book is family and personal historical meditations on Seattle streets, one per chapter.  It’s the kind of book I collect Chinuk Wawa and regional English items from…

page [7]: “I knew most of the men and women of whom I have written–they are gone–our tillicums, the Indians, are gone.”

page [7-8]: “Seattle has gone through much plastic surgery, her brows have been lowered, her sags lifted and her hollows filled, and–please everyone, pronounce Alki as the Indians did, as if it were spelled ‘Alkey.'”

page 16: About Alki Point:  “The Point has become a summer playground, and where the Indians first came to have a kloish nanitch (a good look) at the pale-faces, other pale-faces now play and splash.”

page 17:  About the first navigation light there:  “This early light was a crude affair, known as a ‘stake’ light…”

page 18-19: About Mill Street, now Yesler Way: “As soon as the sputtering little mill began to spit sawdust, Nis Jacob Ohmn, alias ‘Dutch Ned,’ alias ‘Sawdust Ned’ was there with his big red wheelbarrow to fill in the surrounding swamp with sawdust.  I think that must have begun the first paving, and ‘down on the sawdust’ was a common expression in those days.”

page 19: “…there too a group of young  blades acting like clowns, who styled themselves ‘the plug-uglies,’ yelled, danced and called to the crowds at Fourth of July celebrations…”

page 19: “The sawdust made a good camp ground too for the Indians; and anyone who has been here long enough will recall that, after being ‘down on the sawdust’, he would be kept busy scratching all the way home, for chodups (fleas) and Indians were close companions.”

page 20: “It had the first cable car line–you know, ‘no pushee, no pullee’.”

page 20-21: About Chief Leschi: “Here he landed in his big war canoes in 1856, with his warriors, hideous in war paint and ugly in temper, ready to memaloose (kill) the Bostons.”

page 21: “When Mill Street was still only a trail, at Lake Washington it was called ‘Fleaburg’.”

page 24: About the author’s father: “He also told of watching the Indians from east of the [Cascade] Mountains race their cayuses up and down the street [Commercial], lashing them with raw-hide whips.”

page 25: “It [Commercial St] stretches far out over made land where sea-gulls once swam and the unwary chee chacko (newcomer) who did not understand the ways of tides would be left in his canoe on a bed of ooze, not daring to walk, waiting for hours in the sun or rain–waiting for the turn of the tide to release him.”

page 29: “Red-headed little Rollie Denny’s first school, where he learned his a-b-c’s, was in a tenas (little) schoolhouse on a slight rise on the east side of Front Street between Cherry and Columbia, where the Sullivan Block is now.”

page 29-30: Calico dances? About Henry Yesler’s hall at Cherry St: “Many dances took place there, especially the calico kind where all the girls wore calico.  They seemed to have a perfect flair for calico dresses at balls.”  Etc.

page 30: About parades: “The grandest of them all was the Fourth of July parade, with the ‘Liberty Wagon’ filled with happy little girls all done up with sashes of red, white and blue ribbons.  Their hair was frizzed and tied with ‘Fourth of July ribbons’, as we called them.”

page 31: “Old Chief Saniwa, Chief of the Upper Snoqualmies, came every autumn to pay a visit to his kloish tillicum (good friend) Arthur Denny.  He would bring his family, his kuitans (ponies) and komox (dogs) and camp in the pasture with the family cow.”

page 46: “Third Street with its neighborly homes, beds of pansies and mignonette, shade trees, picket fences, along with the lum-mi-i (old woman) and her micka tickey clams (Do you want to buy some clams) is of yesterday, while Third Avenue with its hurrying throng, its roar of traffic and brilliant lights–if of today!”

page 50: About Cherry Street: “It was made famous by the Block House which was built on a knoll at tide water, just before the outbreak of the Indian War in 1855.  Some of the Indians were mesatchie (bad) and solecks (mad) and were getting ready to mamook memaloose (make dead) all the Bostons (white people).”

page 56: About Seneca Street: “When Dexter Horton brought home a new wife, the Indians, all tillicums (friends) of his, leaned over the wall for a kloish nanitch (a good look) at “Horton’s new klootchman” (wife).  When Mrs. Horton, who usually sat reading at the long window opposite the wall, could stand the wa wa and nanitch no longer she would pick up her book and klatawa (run).”