lisítaluy: Yet another Jargon word discovered


quinault pumpkin

Quinault pumpkin

(Photo credit: LewisTalk)

It’s glossed as “squash” in the Quinault Salish dictionary I have. Every time I saw the word, I thought, That looks so weirdly intricate in Quinault. To be native, it would have to be made of many small parts put together strangely.

Then I had a happy moment, like in this seasonal song:

la citrouille rit rit rit

(Image credit: Mme Folkema)

…la citrouille means “pumpkin” in modern-day French! (lisítaluy may be les citrouilles, the plural.)

And it it’s from French, that means it’s from Canadian French of the earlier 1800s.

Which means it’s from Chinook Jargon.

I mean we have just about nil evidence for loans direct from French to southwest Washington indigenous languages, but dozens and dozens of examples of French words in the Jargon.

(If you go way upriver and inland, some of the Interior Salish and Dene languages have slices of their vocabulary pie that seem to have come straight from Canadian French. More fur-trade linguistic archaeology–but a story for a different day.)

Thanks to several kind friends for pointing this word’s origin out to me when I had gone up a blind alley. Native speakers of a language are worth their weight in gold. Now let’s take that hint and raise kids talking Chinuk Wawa 🙂

(Directions to my blind alley: I’d wasted a good half hour Google Books-ing 19th-century French dictionaries that had only courgepotiron, etc. etc. for squashy veggies, but no citrouille.)

Neat discovery here. I’ve seen pʰə́mpkʰin used in a Jargon story; now we have a synonym!

And today’s example is a nice illustration of why the Grand Dictionary of Chinuk Wawa that I’ll ultimately publish will contain a significant portion of words that we know primarily from the Native languages that have been in contact with the Jargon.

Henry Zenk, who did the pioneering research that led to such great things as the Grand Ronde language program and dictionary, is the person who I associate the most with that idea. hayu masi henli!