Used by Half-Breeds only: “ladder”

catholic ladder

Catholic ladder (Image credit:

Why did only “half-breeds” use the Chinuk Wawa word for “ladder”?

That’s the story that Father St Onge tells in his 1892 dictionary manuscript.

Oh, the word is leshel or lashel, from French l’échelle.

I can only speculate:

Métis Canadians were, as a rule, the halfbreeds in question, and they generally spoke French. Maybe their Chinuk Wawa included more vocabulary from that language, which would help explain some unique local words like the Grand Ronde dictionary’s lachuk for ‘cap, toque’ and the Fort Vancouver Manuscript 195’s tapahote ‘shame’.

Did other ethnic groups use their own expressions for ‘ladder’, taken from other languages?

The same lower Columbia River region where St Onge learned his Jargon is where the sáx̣ali stík or “Catholic ladder” was devised and popularized among the Native people. (PS: there is a top-notch collection of these on display at the Spokane Public Library’s Northwest Room.)

Up around Kamloops BC people said ladir, one of the many recent English loans there.

That’s as much as I have time to say today. Anticipate more discoveries in connection with this!