Units of measure, charismatic megafauna, & bridging from Chinook to English in 1890s Kamloops

“Units of measure, charismatic megafauna, & bridging from Chinook to English in 1890s Kamloops”


How’s that for a dissertation title? 🙂

Because, in the course of a small excerpt from Kamloops Wawa #100 (15 October 1893), page 166, you’re going to see

  1. how quantitative measurement was expressed (English, except for ’64 were its doors’),
  2. where words for exotic large animals were gotten from (English),
  3. and how Chinook Jargon served as a kind of bridge to knowledge of English in the 1890s Kamloops region.

Klaska mamuk nim ukuk pli haws amfitiatr.

“This building for games was called an ‘amphitheatre’.”

Ukuk amfitiatr iaka <564> fit lon; <467> fit waid
<140> fit sahali. Iaka aias kakwa <6> ikirs ilihi
<64> iaka dors; kanawi iaka ston iaka marbl, kopa
insaid pi kopa klahani. Kakwa rawn ukuk amfitiatr,
kopa sitkom: kopa ilihi, klaska mamuk mitlait ayu sand,
klaska mamuk nim sand arina, kakwa iaka nim arina ukuk
pli haws. Iht aias ston kalahan iaka ihpui ukuk
arina kanawi kah. Kopa ukuk ston kalahan mitlait
ayu dors, pi ayu tanas haws, kah klaska tlus
nanish laions, taigrs, pantirs ItS, pi ukuk
tilikom klaska tiki pus mamuk fait alki kopa arina.
Sahali ukuk ston kalahan mitlait iht shikmin
kalahan pus ukuk wail bists wik kata shako klahani
kopa arina. =

“This amphitheatre was 564 feet long, 467 feet wide,
and 140 feet tall. It was as big as 6 acres of land;
it had 64 doors; all of the stone [it was made of] was marble, on the
inside and out. This amphitheatre was like a circle,
in half: on the ground, a great deal of sand was put,
the sand was called ‘arena’ [in Latin], so the name of this
games building was arena. A big stone wall enclosed this
arena all around. In this stone wall were
many doors, and many chambers, where there were
safely kept lions, tigers, panthers etc., as well as those
people who were about to do battle later in the arena.
Above this stone wall was a metal
fence so that those wild beasts couldn’t get out
of the arena.”

I’m writing a minimum of commentary on the above just now. But I think this textlet gives you an inkling about why, as phenomenally popular as the Chinuk pipa shorthand writing was at first, it died out in favor of English talking and writing within about 25 years.

From the start, Father Le Jeune made a point to teach some English via his Chinook shorthand. And everyone’s Jargon that’s documented in this alphabet shows a consistently high amount of recent spoken-English loans. Be aware, it’s excellent, fluent Chinuk Wawa — but it’s behaving like a pidgin language, changing rapidly.

Ours is the privilege of viewing that process of turbulent social shift.