Wine tea, a redundancy born of anachronism

marriage at cana

When Kamloops Wawa  tells, on pages 21-22 of issue #118b (i.e. a whole ‘nother issue dated July 1894), the story of the wedding at Cana, we get an additional example of the old-fashioned talk that serves as a Biblical register in Chinook Jargon.

At Kamloops in 1894, the usual Jargon word for “wine” was wain. That was no recent loan, unlike other English-sourced words in the local Chinook. But it was new compared to the doozy that’s used in the New Testament story I’m looking at.

There we can savor two heady archaisms for wine, wain ti — “wine tea” and wain olali iaka chok “wine berry’s water”!

These expressions have to date back several decades before 1894, to a time when Native people were still unfamiliar with the fruit of the vine. In the earlest missionary documentation of Chinuk Wawa, from the general lower Columbia River region of Washington and Oregon, the word for wine in Jargon was usually wain also. So far nothing remarkable.

But “grapes” were wain olali, “wine berries”. (Later, at Kamloops, CJ has grips. The same loan caught on in other regions, we know at least from its appearance in various Native languages.) The grapevine naturally was wain olali stik, “wine berry tree”.

But even though wain was already present in Jargon from an early time, the beverage must have remained pretty unfamiliar for a while. It would certainly have been very expensive for the first Catholic missionaries to bring or obtain any considerable supply of wine, despite its being an integral part of their worship rituals. The padres probably used it sparingly in the earliest years, so that Native folks must have rarely met up with it.

Considerations of this nature have to be, I feel, at the heart of the two strange circumlocutions for “wine” that I mention above. The missionaries must have felt it equal or superior in expressivity to go to the great lengths of talking about “the wine berry’s water” and “wine tea” to Native audiences. Maybe this “wine tea”, an expression I don’t recall finding anyplace but the 1894 passage, possesses additional motivation, if the frontier practice was to mix water in to “stretch” the scarce resource of sacramental wine. Further research is called for, as we say in the linguist game. Fodder for a history-student essay.

(Side note: the profusion of synonyms used in the same passage includes two simplexes, wain and ti [!!].)

That’s the story I have for you today. Now enjoy reading the actual passage I’m riffing on, if this sort of thing is your bag, baby:

Klaska sit dawn kanawi pus makmak,
They all sat down to eat,

kopa ukuk ilihi tilikom klaska ti 
at the local people’s tea[,]

pus klaska makmak iaka wain olali
to drink the wine berry

iaka chok ukuk chi malii[.]
water of that newlywed.

Wain ti chako kopit pi wik tilikom
The wine tea ran out but the people were not

kopit makmak. Mari nanish pus
done eating. Mary saw when

wain ti chako kopit, iaka wiht
the wine tea ran out, she also

nanish kata shim iaka tlap alki
saw the kind of shame that

ukuk man chi malii pus iaka wain
the newlywed husband would have if his wine 

kopit pi tilikom wik kopit makmak.
was gone and people were not finished eating.

Aiak iaka wawa kopa iaka tanas:
Right away she told her son:

Klaska wain chako kopit… 
“Their wine has run out.[“] …

[ShK] wawa
[Jesus] said

kopa tanas man: “Mamuk patl chok
to the young men: “Fill

ukuk lipot; klaska mamuk kakwa.
these pots with water[“]: they did so.

ShK wawa wiht: Iskom alta
Jesus also said: Now take

ukuk mitlait kopa ston lipot.
what is in the stone pots.

Lolo kopa ukuk man iaka wach man kopa
Take it to the man who is in charge of 

ti” Tanas man mamuk kakwa. Pus
the tea”. The young men did this. When

wach man kopa ti tist ikta tanas
the man in charge of tea tasted what the young

man lolo kopa iaka, iaka wawa kopa
men had brought to him, he told the

chi malii: “Ukuk wain chi
newlywed: “This wine that

maika patlach kopa nsaika, ilip tlus
you’ve just given us is better

wain iaka. Wach man kopa ti wik komtaks
wine.[“] The man in charge of tea didn’t know

pus iaka ukuk chok ShK mamuk
that this was the water that Jesus

shako wain, pi tanas man klaska
turned into wine, but the young men

komtaks: klaska, klaska mamuk
knew: they were the ones who had

patl chok ukuk ston lipot.
filled the stone pots with water.

ShK mamuk ukuk iht haha
Jesus did this particular miracle

pus tilikom mamuk nawitka pus
so people would believe that

ST iaka, kakwa ilo ikta k’il kopa
he was God, so that nothing was difficult for

iaka. Iawa ShK oihoi chok
him. Then Jesus changed water

pus shako wain, alki iaka
to become wine, and later he

oihoi wain pus chako iaka
would [go on to] change wine to become his

pilpil pus iaka mamuk Å.
blood when he made Communion. 

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