Oldish Central Salish borrowings from Chinuk Wawa?

wash mash

(Image credit: Crock-Pot.com)

I invite your thoughts on this puzzler:

Two Central Coast Salish languages that I’ve noticed have similar-looking verbs:

  • Dxʷləšucid (Lushootseed) wə́sh ‘distribute’
  • She Sháshíshálhem (Sechelt) wásh-at ‘take s.th. from fire/heat/stove’

There’s no indication of this *wash-y thing being a natively Salish root, in Aert H. Kuipers’s authoritative “Salish Etymological Dictionary”. He doesn’t reconstruct it to Proto-Salish, Proto-Coast Salish, (Proto-)Central Salish, or to the Coast-Lillooet-Thompson grouping. No, it’s not in Proto-Interior Salish either! 🙂

Something smells like Chinook Jargon here.

Because the semantics of our *wash-word are a beautiful match with the Jargon’s másh ‘to throw/take away; to send’.

And the sounds line up well. We only need an explanation for the apparent change from CJ’s to a Central Salish w. No sweat because Central Salish, in the early “historical” period as we entertainingly call the times since Whites showed up, underwent a number of sound shifts that include changing m‘s into other stuff. (Like b‘s in Dxʷləšucid, and ŋ‘s (the “ng” sound in English “sing”) in S’Klallam.)

If you ask me, we therefore have here a word of Chinuk Wawa that Central Salish borrowed early enough to put it through that same sound mutation.

Say, by the 1850’s. That’s my ballpark estimate; further linguistic archaeological work is going to narrow that down.

What do you think? Have I convinced you?

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