How do you say “church” in Chinook Jargon?

How do you say “church” in Chinook Jargon?

chinook church

A Chinook church

I’m glad to be asked such an interesting question.  It’s actually hard to find a word for “church” in Chinook.  Makes me think.

Most of the accessible documentation has to do with earlier stages of the language.  Before there was much town life.  Back in the times when Christian services in Jargon, which were targeted at Native people, were likely to be held at temporary meeting places.  Thus the scarcity of vocbulary for this?

In the Kamloops area, they wrote and said “styuil haws”.  The first word there is pronounced, in the one audio recording where I’ve heard it, like a British person saying “stew” and “ill”.  What a visual!  It’s a Coast Salish word for “prayer”.  The second word is “house”.

Another word for it, in the Chinuk pipa shorthand literature of BC’s southern interior, was “liglis” and “liglis katolik”.  That’s a straight borrowing from standard French l’église and l’église catholique.  Nobody used that word.  You’ll only find it in the catechisms and prayer manuals that Father Le Jeune published.  There, it’s an attempt to express the semantic distinction between church as a building and church as an organization or community.

Grand Ronde has a similar distinction to that in its dictionary, with pʰliyé-haws (“prayer house”) for the place and lamés for the service (French word for Catholic “mass”).

I want to say that I’ve also come across “church” or “chach”, but without doing a ton of research my impression is that that was a loanword in one of the regional languages.

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