Preschoolers speaking Chinuk Wawa…in 1925!

Thanks to Leland Bryant Ross for creating the JPG image of the newspaper article!  DDR


Indian Tongue Easy to Her as English!

Preschoolers learning Chinook Jargon

Infant prodigies aplenty have been found who could chatter French, German, Spanish and even Chinese before they had lost their lisp in their native English.  But have you ever met one who mastered Chinook at the tender age of four?

If you haven’t here’s your chance–meet Miss Kathryn Marguerite Lombard, petite daughter of Mr. Charles E. Lombard, conductor of the Metropolitan Theater orchestra (Seattle) and a native son of the Northwest.

Kathryn Marguerite hasn’t mastered the entire Chinook vocabulary–but neither has she progressed that far in English, for the matter of that.  And one thing is certain–she can claim without fear of contest the four-year-old Chinook championship of Seattle!

Her tuition in the tongue, which has been described as the American Indian Esperanto, began by accident.  Her father, born in British Columbia and nursed as a child by an Indian woman, had picked up Chinook at an early age and never forgot it.

One day while playing with his little daughter, he started to talk Chinook to her as a joke.  To his amazement, she repeated the words after him as glibly as an Indian.  He pursued the experiment–and soon had her chattering in Chinook almost as fluently as she can in English.

[INSET: Adorable photo and the text: “KATHRYN MARGUERITE LOMBARD, aged four, learned Chinook almost as soon as she learned English.  But she isn’t quite sure of herself yet, so, whenever she has an opportunity, she tries out her accent on her pet totem pole. — Courtesy Seattle Post-Intelligencer.”]

Thank you, Sharon Seal, for sharing this find!

From The North American Indian (“Edited by Indians of the Puget Sound Tribes”)October 16, 1925, column 4.