The Wander Years

bighorn sheep

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(John) Frederick Lort(-)Phillips (1854-1926) took enough time from rambling to pen “The Wander Years: Hunting and Travel in Four Continents” (which was published in London by Nash & Graydon in 1931). 

Comfortably well-off as a junior member of the British nobility — his older brother was the heir to the family’s privileges and his wife was a former maid-of-honour to HM Queen Victoria — Lort Philips did what was done, devoting the sweat of his brow to globetrotting and shooting critters.

It was highly fashionable among the Old Country’s sportsman class to go on safari in British Columbia. Our man wound up in the mountains of the southern interior, with Native guides.

Here’s where I admit I haven’t laid hands on his book, which seems to be rare and located in archives far from me. So I don’t have exact dates or locations, or even full citations.

But thanks to Google and Sam, I’ve been able to glean that Lort-Phillips picked up enough Chinuk Wawa to grasp what he was being told about conditions on the ground. And that Jargon dialect contained some pidgin English and local Salish, true to form for the time and place, as Chinook was slowly giving way to standard English.

The author’s spellings are that prized commodity in Chinuk Wawa research: his own creation. By not following anyone else’s way of writing the language, Lort-Phillips is implying that he’s relying on his actual experiences of what was said. Not all of it seems perfectly grammatical to me, but that too adds to the impression that without previous experience of the language he was trying to get it down on paper.

This whole picture, despite being a tiny collection of words, paints a vivid image of how the Jargon was used some time around 1900 in what you always hear me calling the Kamloops Wawa world. There, people relied fairly heavily on the pidgin for White-Native communication, and they modified it with whatever additional words they picked up in their mutual encounters. The result is distinctive:

  • page 222: Thyee Jimmy = Chief Jimmy (Grand Ronde spelling: tayi)
  • page 230: hiyu surelaps = plenty of rams [bighorn / Rocky Mountain sheep] (hayu + local Salish ṣ-ʕʷl=áps ‘mountain sheep’ in Thompson Salish, Lillooet, etc.)
  • page 231:
    • bymebye, to mollow two sun, three sun, hayloh nimcome tax   halo name kumtuks? (by-and-by tumala two san, three san, hilu nayka kəmtəks, hilu nim kəmtəks) ~ ‘later, after two or three days, I don’t know, don’t know how to say it’ (English-language numerals were common in Kamloops-region Chinuk Wawa)
    • cloochmans  (ɬuchmən-s) ~ ‘woman-Plural’
    • tenas surelaps = little lambs (tənəs-ṣʕʷláps) 
    • sun cooley = travels (san kuli) ~ ‘days traveling’
    • hiyu mountain hiyu snow hiyu tree (hayu mawntin hayu snu hayu tree) ~ ‘lots of mountains, lots of snow, lots of trees’
    • cooley praps? (kuli perhaps) ~ ‘maybe travel’
  • page 232: hayloh surelaps (hilu ṣʕʷláps) ~ ‘no bighorn sheep’
  • page 234: hayloh skoogum (hilu skukum) ~ ‘not strong; weak’

Altogether this makes a nice little addition to what we know about the Jargon in southern interior BC!