“Charko if they tickied sullex”

charko if they tickied sullexI won’t transcribe all of the English in this eyewitness letter from the Rogue River Indian war, although it’s enlightening to learn of the White volunteers’ greed. 

The relevant aspect for us on this website is the testimony that the southern Oregon Native people knew good Chinuk Wawa at this relatively early date, and knew they could taunt the Whites using it.

…the Indians were telling them to “charko,” if they “tickied sullex,” saying they had two white women in camp, and to come and get them.

— The Oregon City Oregon Argus of February 9, 1856, page 3, column 2

Factor out the English-language verb inflections, which were a frequent and often jocular way of quoting Chinuk Wawa among pioneers (who would have no difficulty understanding the codeswitching).

Then we have cháku ‘come (on)’ and tíki sáliks ‘want to fight’.

The latter expression is a reminder of what I said the other day about the two meanings of sáliks. It’s used both for ‘be angry’ and ‘to fight’. (It might be interesting to have met the southern Oregon man known as Sullex Jim.)

A similar split meaning occurs in fluent Jargon in a verb that’s got similar overtones: mə́kʰmək ‘be jealous of; to eat’. Strangely enough, we know the first sense only from Kamloops Jargon — but the local Salish languages of the old Fort Vancouver region have the idiom! This I take as pretty fair evidence that the idiom began life on the lower Columbia, and then, like so much of Chinook Jargon, eventually was brought to Canada via priest-missionaries training new generations to take their place.

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