Albert Veranous Franklin, Tatla Lake, BC, talks Chinook
Thanks to Sam Sullivan and Robert ‘Rob’ ‘Lucky’ Budd for pointing this gem out!
Robert Budd’s hit book “Voices of British Columbia” sounds like a great read! Here is a little something of interest to my readers…
Listen: “Voices of BC – Albert Veranous Franklin”
Albert Veranous Franklin (1884 [Skykomish River, WA]-1968).
His family moved to Tatla Lake in the Chilctoin to start a store in 1892. I noticed interesting things about his English, like how he spoke of swimming the horses at “Sódy Creek” (Soda Creek). And “we was headed for Tatla Lake; he knew, knowed about it on account of these surveyors…so anyway, he, he come on up…”
Then he gets into Chinook.
“And an Indian comes along and he says, ‘You want some mawich? Maika tiki mawich?,’ he said, that’s Chinook [šənʊ́k] now. [Imbert Orchard asks ‘What’s it mean?’.] ‘Do you want some deer meat?’
“My father says ‘Nawitka [nawitke].’ He could talk Chinook too. He says ‘Naika katshim [katsim],’ he said, so away he went, trottin’ on ahead, and all he had was a, a knife about, oh, 10 inches long overall, handle and everything. And that’s all he had to get that deer… [They find him again later:] We all had mawich to eat, that’s deer… My father bought it [some land] from him [old Deshan] for a catty of Hudson’s, er, T&B tobacco…[A tax collector at Clinton, BC] said, ‘Well, I’m going to take your, your rig, your horses and wagon…’ ”
This Chinook Jargon is fascinating to me, as scant as the sample of it is. It’s one of the few sound recordings you’ll find of CJ as spoken in the Interior around the time that Native people were speaking it and writing it in shorthand. (See my dissertation. I’ve written the words here as folks spelled them in that way of writing) Mr. Franklin’s pronunciations and his word choices accurately reflect what I’ve found in those letters. For example, the pidgin-English-like katshim for “to catch”, as well as rig for a horse-drawn wagon, both crop up in local CJ. And it’s quite something how his pronunciation of the “k” between vowels in naika and maika is not very Englishy…more like a “g”…which we find in Native-oriented CJ elsewhere such as the lower Columbia River. His [katsim] for katshim is also typical of Native people’s pronunciation locally.
PS: What is “sugarcane“, a particularly succulent grazing plant? This is obviously a BC word. Compare “Sugarcane” Indian Reserve near Williams Lake. It can’t really be a pun on (Mexican) Spanish cañada, can it?
What is “sugarcane“, a particularly succulent grazing plant?
I wonder if this refers the plant usually called “cow parsnip” or sometimes “Indian rhubarb”, a very large (up to about 7 ft) species of the “Umbellifera” family (which includes poison hemlock and Queen Anne’s lace, as well as common carrots). The thick stems (resembling rhubarb or sugarcane stems) are very juicy and were (still are) eaten by native children in the spring, like raw rhubarb. They are also favourites of bears coming out of hibernation. ( I think there is a problem with potential allergies, although that might be the case with older specimens of the plant).
The plant is very common in the Nass Valley, but in Klemtu (Swindle Island) there is a much smaller (3-4 ft) variety with thin reddish stems and more delicate looking leaves. I did not try to sample either variety.
Some of the early bigwigs in BC had been in the Caribbean and would have been familiar with sugarcane, so perhaps they referred to the plant by the same name, both being very tall plants with thick juicy stems. “Cow parsnip” is more likely to be of English origin, this plant family being very large and widely distributed in the world.
Your idea is worth pursuing, Marie-Lucie, thank you! I find it plausible that this would refer to a native plant…