Definitions *in* Chinuk Wawa

Most wanted, to bring Chinook Jargon alive: definitions of the language…in the language.

starting to understand jargon

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)

Exhibit A:

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 [149])

Exhibit B:

…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)

Exhibit A:

Iaka mamuk nim iaka “Siviir of t warld”
kakwa pus wawa: “Iaka mamuk klahawiam tilikom pus wik
klaska mimlus.”

“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)

Exhibit B:

Kakwa klaska
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)

Exhibit A:

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)

Exhibit B:

…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

Exhibit A:

…pe Peta
wawa hyou dams (hyas mesachie)…

…and Peter
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?