The priest makes it explicit, pardon his French

I’ve previously told how “the M-word“, musum ‘sleep’, had lewd overtones in Chinuk Wawa.

Now the priest makes it explicit.

Writing in shorthand French, Father Le Jeune observes in Kamloops Wawa #121 (October 1894, page 170):

musum (3)

<6o> L mo musum sin[g]ifi dormir.
<X> Me dpyui kilk ani li sovash iiã atribyui
ə̃ movi sãs a sit iksprisiõ,
il e rãplasi par l mo ãgli slip.

“6o. The word musum means to sleep.
<X> But for several years, the Indians having attributed
a bad meaning to this expression,
it has been replaced by the English word slip [sleep].”

There’s lots of corroborating evidence for this claim, most recently in Dale McCreery’s finding of an expression musum stik, for that particular element of male anatomy, reported on the Facebook Chinook Jargon group.

(Not to be confused with Cree people’s English word moosum for ‘grandpa’.)

And there you have the explanation for one of the many older Chinook words getting replaced by English ones in the Kamloops area.

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