Definitions *in* Chinuk Wawa
Most wanted, to bring Chinook Jargon alive: definitions of the language…in the language.
If we’re making the effort to revitalize an endangered idiom such as “Chinook”, we have to give new speakers a lot of resources. Teachers, especially in immersion environments, will need ways to explain concepts without using another language. Learners will need monolingual dictionaries so they can look up unfamiliar stuff, and get usage tips, while remaining in Jargon mode.
Toward that goal, I can show you real examples of 4 ways that Chinuk Wawa has been used to define words…
STRATEGY ONE: “…which is called ____” (giving a synonym)
mamuk ukuk piktyur iaka nim fotograf kopa chikmin
stil plit, kakwa stamp…
makes that picture, which is called a ‘photograph’, on metal,
a steel plate, like a stamp…” (KW #120b, September 1894, page )
…mamuk mitlait ukuk stamps kanamokst msaika
pipa kopa iht pokit iaka nim invlop pus chako kopa
“…put those stamps together with you folks’
letter into a pocket called an ‘envelope’ to come to
us…” (KW #119, August 1894, page [back wrapper 2])
STRATEGY TWO: “as if to say ___; meaning ___” (used to define essentially foreign words)
Iaka mamuk nim iaka “Siviir of t warld”
kakwa pus wawa: “Iaka mamuk klahawiam tilikom pus wik
“He called him ‘Savior of the World’,
meaning: ‘He takes pity [on] the people so they don’t
die.’ “ (KW #118, July 1894, page 9)
mamuk nim ukuk “Shodiir”, kakwa pus wawa aias kitl…
This is why
it’s called “Chaudière”, meaning a big kettle… (KW #211, September 1904, page 19)
STRATEGY THREE: “that’s the one that is…” (equating the topic with some other entity)
maika tanas iaka mitlait: Iaka ukuk iaka taii
kopa kanawi Ishipt ilihi.
your son is alive: He’s the one who is the chief
of all Egypt.” (KW #30, 12 June 1892, page 119)
…mitlait wiht, drit kopa sitkom iht fawntin:
iaka ukuk chok Sin Piir mamuk chako kopa ilihi…
“…there was also, right in the centre, a fountain;
this was the water that St Peter caused to spring from the earth…” (KW #212, December 1904, page 60)
STRATEGY FOUR: juxtaposed synonyms
wawa hyou dams (hyas mesachie)…
said [with] many swears (very evil)… (from a previous post in this blog)
Can you think of more ways to define things in Chinook Jargon?
Is there a favorite strategy used in classes that you’ve been in?
How will an upcoming dictionary in the language express not only synonyms, but opposites?
I’ve been seriously thinking about doing a similar project for Nuxalk – we need a Nuxalk to Nuxalk dictionary with both examples and definitions in the language, for teachers, and for learners. I suspect that a good resource for doing this would be one of the English dictionaries written for learners – one of the ones that only uses a thousand words to define everything.
Also curious – what is this story about Peter and a spring?
If you don’t know it, Dale, and it’s in Rome, I figure it’s Catholic dogma or legend. I’m having a strangely slow time of finding an answer online, although I am distracted by a very delicious cup of oatmeal with maple syrup!
Here we go, it’s a Catholic miracle:
“In the middle of this second prison there is a spring of water which St. Peter miraculously called forth when he converted his keepers Processus and Martinianus, and in which he baptized them and fortyeight other prisoners.”
From page 38 of “Popery and Jesuitism at Rome in the nineteenth century, in 20 letters”, Luigi Francesco L. Desanctis, 1852
If it were my dictionary it’d have drawings in key places (ex. “dog”, instead of an attempt at a definition, would just be a drawing) and there would be some sort of symbol to quickly denote opposites, ex. “north (þ: south)”, and another symbol to denote related words or almost-synonyms, ex. “north (þ: south, ø: east, west)”.
Pictures are useful tools when used strategically!