When your grandpa isn’t your chúp*

( * In honor of chup henli Zenk.) 🙂

When your grandfather isn’t your chúp, what do you call him?

I’m not thinking here of the affectionate variants that you can find in the lower Columbia River and Grand Ronde Chinuk Wawa: chúpi, chúpa.

No.  I mean, what if you don’t have the word chúp in your local Jargon at all?

Not infrequently I’ve seen people use the exact description, papa yaka papa, in Kamloops Wawa’s world for example.  (It’s also documented in Eva G. Anderson’s book “Chief Seattle” as well as  G.C. Shaw‘s dictionary, and probably copied from there in E.H. Thomas’s compendium.)  Papa yaka papa is one approach that will never fail you.  It says exactly what it means.

A third way of saying “grandfather” in Chinook Jargon is kind of rare but known from more than one source.

bishop langevin

I was reminded today of it, reading page 183 of Kamloops Wawa #159 (December 1897), where there’s a passage quoting, most likely in translation, archbishop Adélard Langevin.


Why do I think this wasn’t originally in Jargon?  Well, now, we shouldn’t confuse this québécois Oblate honcho based out of Manitoba with the Hector Langevin who’s credited with one of the old dictionaries of the Jargon.

Hector-Louis Langevin, it’s worth clearing up while I’m mentioning him, may have been one of the Fathers of Confederation, but he was not the author of that word list.  Neither was the “author” the author of it!

For one thing, the “Hector Langevin” publication explicitly credits T.N. Hibben and Co. Victoria, B.C., who put out countless editions of their Jargon dictionary.


And much more interestingly, that booklet was sent to H-L Langevin by British Columbia’s first Chief Justice, Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, stereotyped as the “hanging judge” in BC history.  We get the backstory from Alycja Muszynski’s book “Cheap Wage Labour: Race and Gender in the Fisheries of British Columbia“:

Begbie also submitted to Langevin a “Dictionary of Chinook Jargon” which Langevin attached to his own report as Appendix CC (SP, no. 10, 1872, 161-82).

— pages 103-104

So there we discover a clue about what resources Begbie relied on in his judge work with Native people.

Back to today’s Langevin now.


He was addressing 2,000 Indians on the occasion of installing the new bishop Augustin Dontenwill a.k.a. Dontenville, in New Westminster:

Ukuk son naika mamuk iht
Today I create a 

chi bishop kopa msaika; naika patlach iht
new bishop for you folks; I give a 

papa kopa msaika; kakwa naika tiki pus msaika
father to you; so I want you to 

kwanisim komtaks naika alta kakwa msaika
keep recognizing me now as your 

ol man papa, kakwa msaika gran fathir.
“old father”, as your “grandfather”.

Let us not fail to say out loud, here in typical Kamloops-region fashion, a fourth synonym that’s recently taken straight out of English is given, gran fathir! 

john booth good

The focus being on this ol man papa, though, I want to take up the thread of its being documented from multiple sources.  The other place I’ve so far found this phrase besides the Kamloops Wawa literature is in Canon John Booth Good’s 1880 “A Vocabulary and Outlines of Grammar of the Nitlakapamuk or Thompson Tongue (The Indian Language Spoken between Yale, Lillooet, Cache Creek and Nicola Lake) together with a Phonetic Chinook Dictionary“.  (Pause to breathe.)  There on page 16 is ole man papa, “grandfather”.

So this term was already well established when Father Le Jeune used it in his 1897 report.

Add it to your dictionaries…