A long(,) lost Jesuit manuscript of Jargon?

voyages en californie

Nous avons vu, entre les mains d’un Père Jésuite de Saint-Paul, un dictionnaire manuscrit assez volumineux sur la langue Tchinook, qu’il s’était, pendant quinze années, donné la fastidieuse peine de rédiger pour l’usage de ses confrères. Il est douteux que ce long travail de patience et d’érudition, soit jamais imprimé.

(We have seen, in the hands of a Jesuit Father of St. Paul, a rather extensive handwritten dictionary of the Chinook tongue, which he over the course of fifteen years had devoted his fastidious care to editing for his colleagues’ use.  It is doubtful whether this long work of patience and learning shall ever be printed.)

This testimony surfaces on page 229 of an 1854 publication, Pierre-Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant’s “Voyages en Californie et dans l’Oregon”.  (Published in Paris by L. Maison, libraire.)

Saint-Amant distinguishes between Jesuits and Oblates in his discussion of the Indian missions in the Pacific Northwest.  On that basis I have a hard time thinking that this is a mistaken reference by him to the well-known Chinook Jargon-speaking Oblates such as Lionnet, Demers, and St. Onge.  Which makes his passing reference more excitining, because we have little CJ from the Jesuits.  But who could be the priest he’s talking about?

By the way, there is also a long section (a couple of chapters) about life in the Prairies françaises or French Prairie.  A number of you will find it, if you can get the gist of his French, fascinating and valuable.  For example, he tells of meeting men who are married to “Tchinook” women or to “bois-brulés” (halfbreeds), and of a local man who spoke to him in a mixture of French and English, “which gave him away to me as a Canadian”.

Also I see a word “taiés” on page 334, which seems to refer to Native chiefs, so I take it as Chinuk Wawa.  Frankly I have yet to read much of this book, but I look forward to doing to!

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