Silver bells we can do, but cockle shells?

cockles
This question was passed along to me, and I thought it was worth a discussion:
“I’m interested in the difference between the word for clam and the word for cockle, if there is a difference.
My Dictionary of the Chinook Jargon or Indian Trade Language of the North Pacific Coast lists three words for clams (yes, plural):
  • ona
  • lukutchee, also spelled luk-ut-chee, lakwitchee

It also includes a word for “large clams”:

  • smetocks
There is no word listed for cockle.
Edward Harper Thomas in Chinook: A History and Dictionary (1935) claims that lukutchee and lakwitchee are singular, and that smetocks refers to big clams.
There must have been a distinction between the clam and the cockle. They’re both bivalves, but people who harvested and cooked and ate them must have understood the difference. Have you by any chance come across a distinct word for cockle?
Hm, I know how to say “silver bells” in the language, but “cockle shells” is harder…
The short answer to this well-constructed inquiry is, no, I have not found a distinct word for “cockles”.
I often turn first to Samuel V Johnson’s 1978 dissertation “Chinook Jargon: A Computer-Assisted Analysis of Variation in an American Indian Pidgin”, and that source doesn’t have a Jargon equivalent for “cockles”.  If we look there for “clams”, we do get quite a list, which includes the above words and more:
  • o-na [evidently from Chinookan for “razor clam”]
  • la coquille [lukutchee; apparently from French for “seashell”]
  • smettaks [smetocks; from Lower Chehalis Salish of Shoalwater Bay, for a large clam species]
  • oomoor  [perhaps from Chinookan]
  • clams [from English, as in the song hiyu clams pe mowich…]
  • go-duck [from Lushootseed Salish of Puget Sound, for “geoduck” or “quahog”]

Of course, there are other clamlike words in Chinuk Wawa, such as haykwa and kupkup for the kinds of shells traditionally used as money.  But those are a far cry from small edible clams.

These results are typical of the Jargon, where we have quite a number of generic terms and relatively few specific ones.

The closest we get to something like “cockles” is tanass lakutchee “mussels”–literally “small clams”–from the 1853 Columbian newspaper.

And given all that I’ve shown above, that or tanas clams would be the phrase I’d suggest for “cockles”.

Your thoughts?

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