Speak of the devil, er, slëïghër
A rockin’ coincidence! Traipsing along the typically slick track of my work, I’ve discovered another word for “sleigh” in Chinuk Wawa.
You might recall a week ago when I reported solving a longstanding mystery — confirming that lasli, “la sleigh”, is a Chinook Jargon word in the southern BC interior. The Kamloops Wawa universe, in other words.
Well now, speaking of other words:
A synonym for lasli in that same region emerges from the tiny, blurred shorthandwriting of the Shugar Kin Tintin (Sugarcane/Williams Lake Bell). This mini-newspaper of the far northern Secwepemc territory inserts itself into a couple of issues of the Wawa and, in a charming anthropomorphized first-person voice, boldly proclaims itself the “little brother” of KW. They’re both male, somehow.
The first issue of SKT shows up on page 36 of KW #126, whose publication date is important to note: March 1895. At this point in its history, KW’s editor, Father Le Jeune, typically operated on a couple of months’ lag from composition to delivery of an issue. That’s due to his having to painstakingly write up the whole thing using special ink on a particular type of paper, mail this master copy off “to Canada” (back east) to be photolithographed, and await its return by rail before he could slap his hektographed or mimeographed mailing labels onto each issue and hand them to the postman. The padre explains this process in what I find to be fascinatingly detailed Chinook in one issue — I should post that one day.
But back to the point: the KW issue of March 1895 reports on events from the dead of winter.
So when little mister Shugar Kin Tintin is telling of his journey south from Williams Lake to visit his big brother in Kamloops, it’s a plod through the snow. What do you know but a sleigh just like this one comes along!
Read some cool travel terminology in this excerpt:
Pi alta naika kuli, sik naika tomtom, kansih lili naika
So then I was traveling, feeling sorry for myself, how loooong I
kuli, ayu sno, aias kaltash oihat, pi naika chako til.
traveled, with lots of snow, and a really bad road, and I was getting tired.
Iawa naika kolan, shako sli kimta naika. Naika kilapai pus
Then I heard, there came a sleigh behind me. I turned to
nanich: stish iaka … Naika mit.hwit kopa oihat .. Pus
look: it was a stage … I stood in the [middle of] the road .. When
stish iaka tlap naika, iaka stop: pi taii stish wawa:
the stage reached me, it stopped: and the stage boss asked:
“Kah maika klatwa tanas man?” <X> Naika wawa: “Kopa Kamlups
“Where are you going, boy?” <X> I answered: “To Kamloops,
naika tiki nanich naika kapho, iaka nim Kamlups Wawa” <X> “O
I want to visit my big brother, his name is Kamloops Wawa.” <X> “Oh,
maika iaka aw ukuk Kamlups Wawa. Saia Kamlups. Chako kopa
you’re that Kamloops Wawa‘s little brother? Kamloops is a long ways. Get in
stish, ilo kwash, wik maika piii ikta,” Alta kanawi
the stage, don’t worry, you don’t have to pay anything.” Then all
ukuk hwait man mitlait kopa stish wawa: “Chako, chako,
those white people sitting in the stage said, “Get in, get in”
kanawi shik hans naika, kanawi tlus nanish naika
[and] all shook my hand, [and] all looked at me kindly.
This “free fare” business is a nod to the Canadian government’s recent bestowal of free mail and stagecoach service on Kamloops Wawa (and probably on all missionary publications). This was reported on page 47 of KW #114b (March 1894) as follows:
<Free mail for
the Kamloops Wawa.>
Iht aias tlus liplit
A wonderful priest
kopa Kanada, iaka nim
in [Eastern] Canada, named
Monsinir Hamil; iaka mamuk tsim kopa taii aias
Monsignor Hamel, wrote to the
post mastir pi ukuk taii
Postmaster General [Adolphe-Philippe Caron] and that leader
iaka wawa pus Kamlups
said that Kamloops
Wawa kuli kopa stish pi
Wawa could travel by stage and
kopa post ofis ilo piii.
through the post office free of charge.
That is a story that deserves its own study, if you have any History students in need of a paper idea!