Monthly Archive: October, 2017

It’s not just for wood rats anymore: Thunderbird speaks Chinuk Wawa

In a previous installment, we learned from Civil War general Phil Sheridan that wood rats know Chinook Jargon. (Image credit: Story of the Chinook) Today, a supernatural being in Alaska joins the conversation.… Continue reading

A Tlingit Jargon-English genre, the skookum board

When I was researching in southeast Alaska, local museum folks referred to “skookum boards“ to mean the plaques sometimes found on the fronts of Native bighouses in Alaskan Tlingit territory soon after the… Continue reading

A good point about “Boston man”

My critical arguments about the origin of Chinook Jargon’s Boston man / bástən mán for ‘American/white people’ have gotten rehashed lately. The long-accepted story has been that this expression has to do with the early… Continue reading

Carmack of the Klondike

Western gold rushes were associated with Chinook Jargon. We see bits of CJ appearing in northern California shortly after the Forty-Niners arrived from the eastern states. Those men couldn’t have known a useful… Continue reading

The Passing of a Race

Some weekend reading: “The Passing of a Race: And More Tales of Western Life” by David Williams Higgins (1834-1917), formerly speaker of the British Columbia Legislature, published in 1905 by William Briggs, Toronto.… Continue reading

Honey, a latecomer in the Northwest

As a linguist I sometimes remind myself: It’s not just new words that grow out of cultural contacts. Trade goods, too, can be potent motivators for different groups of people to communicate with each… Continue reading

Protestants ~ White religion ~ American

‘Protestant’ in Father St Onge’s dictionary manuscript that I’m working with is Poshton-plie, Pashten-plie. Literally ‘American prayer’. (Image credit: The Verdant Christian) Beyond the obvious appropriateness of distinguishing from the Canadian priestsʹ Catholicism… Continue reading

Confirmed! “Picayune” was Chinuk Wawa

Claimed: A word that I found in the Lushootseed Salish dictionary, s-pikyud, most likely is a survival from Chinuk Wawa. The word represents English picayune, a coin technically worth 6.25 cents in the early United… Continue reading

“Iktas” is from Lower Chinookan…basically

The Chinook Jargon word iktas for a person’s ‘things; property’ — especially your ‘clothes’ — is well-known, even in Pacific Northwest English. (Image credit: (Don’t be misled by Theodore Winthrop constantly translating this as… Continue reading

“Johnny One-Note” in Chinuk Wawa

Dedicated affectionately to the late Bob Austerlitz. “Local Lyrics, and Miscellaneous Poems” by Mart Taylor (1858, Hutchings & Rosenfield, San Francisco, California). An Italian immigrant and composer of the hit song “California Humbugs“,… Continue reading