Something evidently occurred in the Department of Geology, Columbia University

Chinuk Wawa, again as an ipsut-wawa (in-group or secret language):

From the Bulletin of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, No. 78 (June 1913), ‘Personal’ column, page v:

I’ll throw in my understanding of this in brackets here:

Something evidently occurred in the Department of Geology, Columbia University, on a recent date which is described as follows: ‘Kwinnum Moon, Sinamokst Sun, Tenas Polaklie.” [The morning of May 7.]  The following notice of the event has been sent to us with a special request that it be printed for the benefit of Western members, who are well versed in foreign languages:

Ikt Ehkahnam, Mamook Hee-Hee [First Story: An Amusement]     Professor Grabau

Mokst Ehkahnam, Oleman Sun kopa China [Second Story, Old Man Sun in China],     Mr. T. T. Read, 02 S

Klone Ehkahnam, Hy-iu Cultus Hee-Hee [Third Story, Plenty of Joking Around],     Dr. A. R. Ledoux

Lakit Ehkahnam, Tipso Illahie Saghallie Illahie [Fourth Story, Prairie Heaven]     Prof. D. W. Johnson

Kwinnum Ehkahnam, Mamook lip-lip chuok [sic] [Fifth Story, Boiling Water],     Dr. E. O. Hovey

Taghum Ehkahnam, Mamook weght kloshe Columbia University [Sixth Story, Improving Columbia University],      Professor Kemp.

This sounds like the program of a clubby luncheon at my alma mater.

It’s pleasant for me to imagine these faculty members and colleagues of Columbia’s historically important School of Mines — later the School of Engineering that many of my friends attended — maybe swapping stories of their field work over food and coffee in a setting like Faculty House.  (Where I once worked.)

Columbia University Faculty House

But were these “stories” anecdotes of real life?  “Prairie Heaven” was a really common trope in English-language writing of the USA before and in 1913; google it.  “Old Man Sun” is probably Sun Yat Sen, a prominent figure in the news of the early 1910’s; T.T. Read worked in Manchuria among other places.  “Boiling Water” could be anything, but I note that Dr. Hovey of the American Museum of Natural History was known for his expedition to the active volcano of Martinique!

And what was these guys’ connection with Chinook Jargon?

At least one of them had worked as far West as Colorado, but that doesn’t quite link up for us.  I leave this intriguing question “for further research” by someone who wants to impress their own professor 🙂

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