Chinuk Wawa alím ‘to rest’ is Salish

This Chinuk Wawa word alím ‘to rest’ has been a puzzle. Grand Rounde’s dictionary plays with possible French or Lower Chinookan sources for it…


Resting Human bowl by Leonard

 (Photo credit: Cheryl’s Trading Post)

But now that I’m constantly using the dictionary of Quinault Salish in my work, I tripped & fell right into it. The word kinda changed its meaning during the pidginization process:

  • Quinault has ʔalím-xʷ ‘to wait’.
  • This made me go back and check the other Tsamosan Salish languages. I found the strikingly similar Cowlitz ʔálm̓-aq / ʔáml-aq ‘wait, rest, wait for’.

(The dictionaries don’t segment these forms for you, but they definitely contain the right shape of root plus a suffix. I won’t go into the meanings of the suffixes here.)

And now, siʔám pi bástən :), the kicker…

I am betting that the source of this word is in Lower Chehalis, the ɬəw̓ál̓məš language. 

We haven’t found a record of it yet, so why do I dare to claim such a thing?

The strong pattern that I tried to describe in this paper appears to be that old Chinuk Wawa words from Salish point way more at ɬəw̓ál̓məš than any other language.

And along with most of the Indigenous-sourced vocabulary at Grand Ronde Reservation, this word quite likely dates to the turn of the century or even before 1900. That community coalesced into a Jargon-speaking entity by that time, as I understand Henry Zenk’s dissertation to claim.

Wel’ alta kʰapit ukuk nayka kəmtəks, pi alta nayka tiki alim. (Well, now that’s all I know, and now I want to rest.)