Fictional Chinook Jargon again

majestic columbia river gorge

(Image credit: Amazon)

We have recourse to Your Ol’ Pal Irwin‘s definition of “atrocious music™” (no offense):

We’d listen to The Shaggs and we would just roll on the floor laughing. At the same time, we recognized there was something special about it. But it wasn’t just bad. It wasn’t mediocre. There was some sort of gene structure there. And we recognized that and were fascinated by it.

That reaction has nothing to do with knowing who created the work of it art. It’s not personal. It’s heartfelt, though. You know it when you see it. Some people collect examples of it.

There is an e-book that I’ve come across in my travels that has a peculiar gene structure. There’s so much Chinuk Wawa in it that you can learn a great deal from it, potentially. And yet it’s what I’ve been labeling as “fictional Chinuk Wawa”.

The Majestic Columbia River Gorge: A Journey Treasured Throughout Time” by Wahclellaspirit ([no location]: Xlibris Corporation, 2012) comes with this summary:

“The Majestic Columbia River Gorge” is a collection of stories, myths, and of a Vision Quest by several chiefs of the Watlalla Tribe belonging to the Chinook Nation. The stories within share of the gift of all things involving nature and of how the Native Americans may have associated themselves to those same gifts.

Ostentatiously protesting that I don’t know who the author is, I’ll point out that everyone I personally know who might be moved to write a 338-page work of fiction that integrates Chinook Jargon so heavily…

…is able to write fluent Jargon. So I’m not writing out of a mean spirit.

This author is not fluent in the language. They definitely relied on antiquated (19th-century style) dictionaries of it.

That explains:

  • The spellings, which are all from the familiar quasi-standardized set that you also see in the names of Portland bridges, Washington ferries, and BC place names.
  • And the book’s subtitle, “A Journey Treasured through time/A Cooley Cultus Potlatch Kopa Hyas Ahnkuttie“. < Cooley > as a noun, that’s unconventional among Chinuk Wawa speakers. < Cultus Potlatch > typically is a noun, meaning ‘gift’, and I suppose you can streeetch that to ‘treasure’ — but speakers have never used it as an adjective as I figure the word ‘treasured’ is meant to be. (If I were presented the subtitle with no translation, I’d guess it was an attempt at “A Running Gift from Long Ago”.)
  • And plot elements such as “the Klale Lolo, the black bear”! < Lolo > does mean ‘bear’…if by ‘bear’ you mean the verb ‘carry’.

(Image credit: TTFonts)

There’s also the matter of the entire book being set in Lucida Handwriting. And its narrative tone eerily evoking circa-1900 “romantic settings” of Native stories.

Before I go as far as drawing comparisons with “The Room“, which I won’t have seen until this weekend…

…I encourage you to support Wahclellaspirit by buying this e-book (just US$3.03), enjoy it, and form your own opinions.