Keel-A-Pie, the Chinuk Wawa operetta (eighth page)

Some excellent chunks of Chinook Jargon today for you!

Let’s get to it:

[…] the beach: Moses now an old man; baskets and kettles containing food on a bench. 

Enter Moses (He chants an invitation): 

“Ty-ee Moses wah-wah kah-kwah [1],
Táyí moses wáwa kákwa,
Chief Moses say so, 

” ‘Here is what Chief Moses says,’ 

Wake lay-ly mem-a-loose ny-kah [2]
Wik-líli míməlus(t) náyka 

Not long.time die I
‘Soon I will be dead’ 

Ul-tah [3] ny-kah de-late ty-ee.
Álta náyka dlét táyí.
Now I real chief. 

‘Now I am a true chief.’ 

Chah-ko hi-yu mah-muk te-hee [4]
Cháku hayu-mamuk-[tíhi] 
Come much make fun
‘Come to enjoy yourselves’ 

Kah-kwah ny-kah hy-ass tik-ee [5] 
Kákwa náyka hayas(h)-tíki 
As I very(.much) want
‘This is what I crave’

Kloshe tum-tum [6] ko-pah meh-si-kah 
£úsh-tə́mtəm kʰapa msáyka 
Good heart to you.folks
‘Best wishes to you folks’

Kon-o-way ich-tahs [7] ny-kah pot-latch
Kánawi-íxta-s náyka pá(t)lach 
All thing-Plural I give
‘I am giving away all [my] things’ 

Ko-pah kon-o-way till-i-kum.”
Kʰapa kánawi tílixam.” 
To all people.”
‘To everybody’ “

The villagers and children come in groups. 

Enter Mihmy (she chants a greeting) : 

“Klah-how-yah [8] kon-o-way till-i-kum!
[£ax̣áwya] kánawi tílixam!
Hello all people!
” ‘Hello everyone!’

Kloshe tum-tum ko-pah meh-si-kah 
£úsh-tə́mtəm kʰapa msáyka 
Good-heart to you.folks
‘Best wishes to you folks’

Hi-yu mah-muk tee-hee 
‘Enjoy yourselves’

Kah-kwah neh-si-kah tik-ee.”
Kákwa nsáyka tíki.

As we want.
‘As we [Moses and I] want (you to).’ “

General mix-up; groups jabber salutations among themselves while feasting. 


On the grassy plat two men are gambling, sitting at either end of a mat they play with discs about twice the size of a dollar; several of them are of the same color and one different; these are concealed in bunches of shredded cedar bark. The man at one end of the mat whirls the bunches from hand to hand until the other indicates his guess whether the odd disc is in right or left hand. Then the discs are rolled to him across the mat, and he wins a point if his guess was right. Then he whirls and the first man makes a guess.

Sitting at either end of the mat two squaws are playing the women’s game; instead of discs they use bunches of small curved pieces of hardwood or bone, which they toss from one to the other. 

Boys are practicing with bows and arrows. 

Girls are playing battle door [battledore] and shuttle cock

An old man is seated on a stump, delivering an oration, to a few listeners squatted on the ground. 


The beach near the camp fire; seated on a chunk of log Mary is trying to pacify her crying baby; others are standing idle. One of the idlers seizes the baby and throws it upon the fire. Being a salamander it does not burn. 

Mary, astonished and bewildered, exclaims:

“Aht-chee-dah! Ny-kah ten-ass.”

ʔáčəda náyka tənás my child
‘Oh my! My child.’ “

Her attempt to rescue the child is arrested by greater astonishment, seeing that it does not burn. 

An eagle swoops down and by its talons seizes the child and flies away with it. 


Along the beach all the people in frenzied hubbub. Perceiving that a fire god has been taken away from them, they have interpreted […] 


[1] < kah-kwah >: There is nothing remarkable about how this word is used in “Keel-A-Pie”, but I still want to point out to speakers of European languages including English that this word can mean either the more demonstrative (deictic) (A) “in this way; thus; so; this is how” or the more relative (B) “in the way that; as; how”. Look for other occurrences of this word throughout the text, and see how they’re used.

[2] < Wake lay-ly mem-a-loose ny-kah >: an alternative way to express ‘soon’ would be to add the word for ‘and’: < wake lay-ly pe > (wik-líli pi). This latter formation seems not to show up in the Grand Ronde dictionary although I thought I’d heard it down there; at any rate it’s constant in Kamloops Chinuk Wawa. In my view this use of the ‘and’ conjunction may reflect (at least Interior) Salish syntactic influence, reflecting how those languages form some subordinate clauses.  Yup, subordinate clauses formed with a coordinating conjunction! Anyway, let me also mention that the subject-final word order in < mem-a-loose ny-kah > ‘I die’ is genuinely fluent usage that a White anglophone would never accidentally use. More signs that author Hanford spoke quite good Jargon.

[3] < Ul-tah >: this rare spelling particularly stands out as further evidence that author Hanford was not much influenced by other people’s written and published Chinook Jargon.

[4] < hi-yu mah-muk te-hee >: as we’ve seen in previous pages of the operetta, this < hi-yu > can be understood like the Grand Ronde “-ing” form, as plausibly as its literal meaning “much”. However, the expression is repeated below, reinforcing the sense that it’s a command ‘have plenty of fun’ rather than an observation that people ‘are having fun’.

[5] < hy-ass tik-ee >: Various old dictionaries translate this expression as ‘eager’ or ‘love’. This is a nice example of how the Jargon dialects that I call “northern”, meaning north of the lower Columbia River, characteristically use < hy-ass > (háyásh), literally ‘big’, as an intensifying prefix.

[6] < Kloshe tum-tum >: I translate this as ‘best wishes’ here because there’s no expressed subject referent in this perhaps English-influenced phrasing. This expression is usually more obviously verbal in nature, so I would have expected something like < klose nika tum-tum / nika kloshe tum-tum / nika tum-tum kloshe > ~ ‘I am happy’, etc.

[7] < ich-tahs >: Notice that this noun has no possessor indicated, but everything in the script of “Keel-A-Pie” tells us that Moses is giving away his possessions, so I translate into English with the word “my”. < Ich-tahs > is noteworthy for its apparent pronunciation with “X” (the “ch” sound in Scots “loch”) instead of the “K” that we are used from Grand Ronde and from the spellings with “C” or “K” by almost all old authorities. This uncommon variant way of saying the word — which is due perhaps to nothing more than White conflation with íxt ‘one’ — is found a few other times in the documentary record. The McClellan party reported paying a Native guide “2 shirts, 1 dress, 1 cap & other small ichtas” during their Pacific Railroad Survey of 1853-1855. In 1876 there’s an advertisement for the Branch Drug Store in Barkerville announcing “various ichtas, suitable for Miners”. And a 1900 Oregon Native Son article on photographer “Major [Lee] Moorhouse’s Cayuse Twins” sports the following adorable pair:

ich-ta o-coke

ICH-TA O-COKE? (What’s that?)

e-le-han mam-ook mem-a-loose

E-LE-HAN! MAM-OOK MEM-A-LOOSE! (Help! Murder!) [I guess. DDR]

[8] < Klah-how-yah > [£ax̣áwya] is a variant pronunciation not found in the now-better-known Grand Ronde creole variety of the Jargon, but is extremely widely known in other (pidgin-speaking) regions, so it became the version loaned into Pacific Northwest English. Interestingly, Kamloops Chinuk Wawa (the pidgin dialect used in the Kamloops Wawa newspaper around 1900 in interior British Columbia, Canada) agrees with Grand Ronde in only having < klahawiam >, with a final “M”. That fact I understand as being due to the French Oblate priests who used the Jargon in that region. Those fellas were the latest in a lineage of missionary linguistic trainees descending from Fathers Blanchet and Demers — who had learned their Chinook Jargon in the old Fort Vancouver environment. Fort V’s norms of usage were also surely among the primary inputs of CJ to the early Grand Ronde Reservation community. I won’t bore you with details of that now. Ask me if so moved.

That’s all I know now.