Another frontier newspaper vocabulary of Chinook Jargon

One of the first newspapers in Washington Territory was the Seattle Weekly Gazette. For the benefit of new arrivals, its volume 1, number 25 (August 6th, 1864) carries a Chinook Jargon vocabulary on page 4, occupying columns 2 and 3.

Seattle Gazette Chinook Jargon vocabulary 1864

Spoiler alert!  It’s a ripoff.  But that’s only typical, for the early literature on Chinuk Wawa.

Specifically, I’ve traced items in it such as martquilly “toward the shore, on shore” to James G. Swan’s 1857 masterpiece, “The Northwest Coast, or, Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory“.  (Such a great read! You should pick up a copy, or download from the link here.)

There’s also plenty in it that came from the “Blanchet” dictionary, which we really ought to go ahead and attribute to its Portland publisher, the Irish immigrant and sometime mayor S.J. McCormick, because — like J.K. Gill’s later massively reprinted opus — it’s a pastiche of cumulated additions from many sources, none of which suggest Father Blanchet‘s involvement.  (Samuel V. Johnson’s 1978 dissertation goes into hayu details about this question on pages 69ff.)

A huge clue that McCormick’s book is a major source for the Seattle article is the latter’s disclaimer about not possessing the proper typeface to show accents in words — because McCormick sprinkles accent marks, sometimes multiple times per word, like Rip Taylor uses confetti.

Besides, McCormick had published several editions of his dictionary already by the time the Gazette article came out, making his probably the first and most widely available printed Jargon resource in early Washington Territory.  Now that is a cool and interesting fact!

Let me make a side note for any readers who may be heading into Chinook Jargon research: The McCormick dictionary has not yet been deeply analyzed.  Quite a number of its entries are absent, for example, from S.V. Johnson’s monumental dissertation that I mentioned, such as elamí ‘alms in the English to Chinook section only.  (Take note, this is super-frequent in old CJ dictionaries; if you don’t find the word you want under an English translation, try the listing by Jargon word instead.)  I also notice coory for ‘run’, which matches the pronunciation preserved at Grand Ronde but in few other locales.

You’ll need to click over to view the full vocabulary at legible size.  It’s a fun way to spend an hour with your iced coffee, and this weekend with the Northwest’s record high temperatures, that’a a highly recommended idea.  Stay cool, Cascadians.

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