Getting specific about David Douglas and Chinook Jargon

David Douglas Chinuk Wawa journal

I’m not too sure that botanist David Douglas’s 1820s journal notes on early Chinook Jargon have ever been published.

A few isolated words in his daily entries, to be sure, have made it into previously circulated editions.

And in those diaristic notes, Douglas sometimes noted — with admirable sobriety — the times he was able to communicate with Native people using the limited proficiency he claimed in Jargon.

But the first time I think I’ve laid eyes on his own collected vocabulary of the Jargon is at a website that accompanies a fine recent exhibit about him, mounted by the Museum of American Cultures of Spokane, WA.

Click to read some of the Chinuk Wawa that Douglas recorded in his own handwriting and used on the lower Columbia River and Shoalwater Bay, WA.

And be sure to watch the short video there demonstrating Jargon pronunciation.

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