Early Jargon loan in Hul’qumi’num

TFW U save a URL to a cool linguistic thing & they take down the page :/

Hul'qumi'num traditional territory.jpg

In this source I recently found an early Chinook Jargon loan into the Indigenous language Hul’qumi’num (Cowichan / Island Halkomelem, a Salish language of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada)

…and the remote possibility of a pidgin Hul’qumi’num

…but it seems Google has removed the preview that showed it.


Luckily it was possible to track down another source containing the words I wanted to share with you.  It’s “Creating Textual Communities: Anglican and Methodist Missionaries and Print Culture, 1858-1914” by Gail Edwards, a  2001 Education thesis completed at UBC.  Footnote 633 there relays a local person’s words [with my emphasis added]:

…the Cowichan man replied, “Heïgh Sowash kqualoum tanowa,”Savage’s heart good to you.” See “Vancouver’s Island,” [letter from Robert [actually Richard] Dowson, dated June 3, 1859], The Mission Field 4 (1859), 194199…

In the spellings used by the Hul’qumi’num dictionary at my disposal, that originally handwritten passage seems to be:

‘uy’  < Sowash > shqwaluwun tu nuwu
good Indian heart to you

The usual word in this language for ‘Native person’ is hwulmuwh;  < Sowash > is obviously the Chinook Jargon word sawash.

This is noteworthy to me for its early date in the contact history of that particular region, and for its rarity — offhand I can remember just one other Indigenous language (Nɬeʔkepmxcín / Thompson Salish) that borrowed this word for the newly contrastive concept of Aboriginal people.

Points of this sentence’s grammar raise questions that I’d like to check with a more knowledgeable speaker or scholar:

  1. Judging from the dictionary I’m using, I wonder why there’s no “nominalizer” prefix s- on < kqualoum >.
  2. Based on the way all Salish languages work, I would’ve expected * < Sowash > shqwaluwuns ‘The Indian‘s heart’.  This same “mistake” of grammar occurs in another sentence in the same footnote, Heïgh Cowitchen kqualoum ta nowa, ‘The Cowichan’s heart is good to you.’
  3. If I’m correctly inferring that this was an Island-dialect speaker, since Richard Dowson was stationed on The Island, I’d expect ‘utl’ nuwu to express ‘to you’.  The preposition that Dowson uses, tu, seems to me more characteristic of mainland dialects such as Stó:lō, where for example in Father Le Jeune’s Chinuk pipa shorthand we find a frequent ta loa ‘to you’.  (Stó:lō historically changed /n/ to /l/.)

It’s in my nature to ponder to what extent Dowson’s unique Hul’qumi’num grammar indicates his not-yet-perfect grasp of the language, or instead a variety of the language that’s been pidginized to some degree, by him or by kindly foreigner-talking Indigenous people.

More research into Dowson’s records of the language is needed.