AUDIO: Cornelius Kelleher quotes Father Fouquet

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Cornelius Kelleher

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Cornelius Kelleher (a.k.a. Kellegher) was among the early students at St. Mary’s (Mission) Residential School on the lower Fraser River in BC.  He is said to have sketched the only known picture of the school.  Here he tells the interviewer about scouting the site for that mission.  I’ve transcribed his Jargon phonetically this time for your, well, edification.

Cornelius Kelleher:

And he1 said that we had,, cook our dinner,, dry salmon you know and, some potatoes that we had,, he says [ət̚2 nàj, ̍ɐ̀ltəs ̍kʰúli]3 around, the back you see,, you know, eh,, what he,, what he meant then in [tʃə ̍nùk]4 was that, he would go ‘n’ take a look around, you see, ‘e told the Indian,, [nȁjkə ̍tɩ̏ki ̩kʰɑ̀ltəs ̍kʰùli]5,, around,, [̍nǽnɩtʃ]6 he says,,, [̍bɑ̀mbàj, ̍mɑmuk ̍hǽws]7 you know, he says.

Interviewer (Imbert Orchard?):

What does that mean?

Cornelius Kelleher:

Means they were gonna build here, see?


I use a single comma for a short pause, double comma for longer, and triple comma for the longest pause observed in a single person’s speech.  Main stress is shown by a raised little vertical bar, secondary stress by a lowered one.  Highest pitch is shown by a double acute accent, middle pitch by a single acute, lowest pitch by a breve accent.

1Father Léon Fouquet OMI, who independent evidence suggests knew Chinook Jargon well. Compare a bilingual CJ-English letter from mostly Lower Mainland chiefs to the governor, circa 1867. (Thanks to Dr. Keith Thor Carlson, USask History Department, for sharing it with me.)


3 [nàj, ̍kʰɐ̀ltəs ̍kʰúli]: “I’m (going to be) poking around.” [naj] is unusual for [najkə]; it may be an idiosyncratic assimilation by the speaker before a following [k].

4 [tʃə ̍nùk]: “Chinook [Jargon]”.

5 [nȁjkə ̍tɩ̏ki ̩kʰɑ̀ltəs ̍kʰùli]: “I want to poke around.”

6 [ ̍nǽnɩtʃ]: “to look”.

7[ ̍bɑ̀mbàj, ̍mɑmuk ̍hǽws]: “going to build (a house/building)”. [bambaj] is unusual in Chinook Jargon but more characteristic of BC’s CJ usage than elsewhere. Rather than coming directly from folk/dialect English “by and by” (“eventually”), this appears to be one of several words in the province’s Jargon that somehow came in from South Seas Pidgin English and/or Chinese Pidgin English.