How to say “copy machine” in Chinuk Wawa
(Just don’t say kaupy machine.)*
Here is the moment when Chinook Jargon office work was born 🙂
The editor, Father J.-M.R. Le Jeune, makes one of the earliest references to the locally used name of his squiggly alphabet: Chinuk pipa (Chinook writing). It was called that even when used to write Salish, or English, or the Latin hymns.
In this front-page letter to readers, he also explains that he’s making multiple copies of a single letter with his mashin (machine = Edison mimeograph).
All of this is done in a format that is replicated by Aboriginal people in their letters to Le Jeune — this I know from having collected a large number of those, as discussed in my dissertation. Specifically, the signoff is “naika [personal name]” (I am so-and-so), which in Aboriginal letter-writing alternated with “naika nim [personal name]“ (my name is so-and-so).
Here’s the whole letter laid out for you:
<Introductory.> Ukuk naika mamuk pipa
This is me writing
kopa kanawi klaksta komtaks Shinuk pipa.
to everyone who knows Chinook writing.
Msaika aias tiki naika kwanisim mamuk pipa
You folks have been eager for me to keep writing
kopa msaika: kakwa msaika wawa kopa naika pus
to you, so you ask me to
aiak mamuk pipa kopa msaika.
write [back] right away to you.
Pi alta msaika shako ayu: kakwa
But now there have gotten to be lots of you: so
wik kata naika kwanisim mamuk pipa kopa
I can’t keep writing [back] to
kanawi. Alta naika tomtom aias tlus naika iskom
everyone. Now I think I really should pick up
naika mashin, pi mamuk pipa kopa msaika kopa mashin.
my machine, and write to you folks by machine.
Kakwa kopit iht pipa naika tsim, pi iaka shako ayu
That way I only write one letter, and it turns into lots
kopa mashin, pi kanawi msaika nanish ukuk tsim.
on the machine, and all of you [can] read that writing.
Pere Le Jeune
*My sources tell me that “copying machine” is munk-mákwsti-pʰípa lemula in the modern language. That is, literally, a “make-twice-paper machine”.