Buchanan’s Chinuk Wawa vocabulary


(Image credit: Raptis Rare Books)

Worth a brief notice: an overlooked contribution to Chinook Jargon studies.

The richest, most beautiful, most lavishly illustrated edition of Theodore Winthrop’s bestselling travel memoir, “The Canoe and the Saddle” (Tacoma, WA: John H. Williams, 1913) includes a handy compilation of all the CJ words and expressions that Winthrop uses (page 223ff).

Better yet, these are augmented with the comments of Indian agent C.M. Buchanan of Tulalip, who corrects many typographical errors and explains various points.

How much added value does this bring us?

Well, it led me for the first time to notice an apparent nice productive reduplication, < till-till > ‘tired, heavy’. This would fit with my impression that Winthrop’s Chinuk Wawa has a lot to do with the lower Columbia River region. Full disclosure, though: I haven’t been able to find where this was used in the main text!

It’s got its own mistakes; < siyah > is glossed as ‘pay off’! (Obviously misread by the typesetters from a handwritten ‘far off’.)

At any rate, go enjoy this gorgeous edition of a Northwest classic. It ends with bonus material from Winthrop’s otherwise unpublished papers, which is quite a treat for a weekend read!