Chinook courthouse

Chinook (Montana) courthouse (image credit: MTgenweb)

A law talking about laws. 

(Back to: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8.; Part 9.)

Pretty “meta” for a pidgin language, eh?

Scholars in the recent past have seriously suggested that these types of languages theoretically can’t express any abstract concepts.

Read my back-translation of the Point No Point Treaty, and let me know what you think.

úkuk k’wáyts íkta ɬáska wáwa
this nine thing they talk

‘The ninth thing that was discussed.’

The said tribes and bands acknowledge their dependence on the Government of
úkuk s(h)áwásh-tílixam ɬáska wáwa nawítka ɬúsh pus bástən háyás(h)-papá yáka táyí
these Indian-people they say indeed good if American big-father he chief
‘These Indian people agree that it will be all right for the American great father to be a chief’

kʰapa ɬáska,
to them,
‘to them,’

the United States, and promise to be friendly with all citizens thereof; and they
pi ɬáska ɬúsh-wáwa pus kwánisəm áɬqi ɬáska kákwa s(h)íks kʰapa kʰánawi bástən-
and they good-say in.order.that always later they like friend to all American-
‘and they promise that they will always be like friends to all American’

tílixam; pi wə́x̣t ɬáska
people; and also they
‘people; and also they’

pledge themselves to commit no depredations on the property of such citizens.
ɬúsh-wáwa pus hílu áɬqi ɬáska kapshwála pi hílu áɬqi ɬáska kákshit ɬáksta
good-say in.order.that not later they steal and not later they destroy anyone
‘promise that they will not steal and will not damage any’

bástən-tílixam yáka íkta-s.
American-people his thing-s.
‘Americans’ things.’

And should any one or more of them violate this pledge, and the fact be
pi pus áɬqi íxt-íxt s(h)áwásh kákshit úkuk k’áw-wáwa,
and if later one-one Indian break this tie-word,
‘And if this or that Indian eventually breaks this agreement,’

satisfactorily proven before the agent, the property taken shall be returned, or
ɬúsh pus bástən tənəs-táyí kʰapa úkuk s(h)áwásh-tílixam yáka mamuk-k’íləpay úkuk
good if American little-chief for these Indian-people he make-return those
‘the American supervisor of these Indians can return those’

íkta-s kʰapa úkuk bástən-tílixam, pi
things-s to that American-person, and
‘things to that American person, and’

in default thereof, or if injured or destroyed, compensation may be made by the
pus wík kákwa, pi pus úkuk íkta-s t’ɬáp-kákshit, ɬúsh pus
if not so, and if those thing-s catch-broken, good if
‘if not, and if those things get destroyed,’

Government out of their annuities. Nor will they make war on any other tribe,
bástən háyás(h)-papá yáka pʰéy úkuk bástən-tílixam pi álta pʰéy íləp-tənəs chíkʰəmin
American great-father he pay that American-person and then pay more-little money
‘the American great father can pay that American person and then pay less money’

kʰapa kʰánawi úkuk s(h)áwásh-tílixam kʰanawi kʰúl. pi hílu áɬqi úkuk s(h)áwásh-
to all these Indian-people every winter. and not later these Indian-
‘to all these Indians each year. And these Indians will not’

tílixam ɬáska mamuk-sáliks kʰanumákwst ɬáksta x̣lúyma s(h)áwásh-tílixam,
people they make-anger with anyone other Indian-people,
‘fight with any other Indian tribes,’

except in self-defence, but will submit all matters of difference between them
pus x̣lúyma s(h)áwásh hílu páyt ɬáska íləp, pi úkuk s(h)áwásh-tílixam ɬúsh-wáwa pus
if other Indian not fight them first, and these Indian-people good-say in.order.that
‘as long as the other Indians don’t attack them, and these Indian people promise to’

and other Indians to the Government of the United States, or its agent, for
álqi ɬáska wáwa kʰapa bástən háyás(h)-papá pi yaka tənəs-táyí pus yáka mamuk-yéʔlan
later they talk to American great-father and his little-chief in.order.that he make-help
‘ask the American great father or his subordinate to help’

ɬáska qʰánchi(x̣) cháku sáliks-wáwa pi tíl-mámuk kʰanumákwst x̣lúyma
them when come angry-talk and heavy-doing with other
‘them when arguments and feuds happen with other’

‘Indian people,’

decision, and abide thereby. And if any of the said Indians commit any
pi álta ɬáska mámuk kákwa yáka mamuk-tə́mtəm. pi pus ɬáksta úkuk
and then they do as he make-thought, and if anyone these
‘and then they will do as he decides. And if any of these’

‘Indian people’

depredations on any other Indians within the Territory, the same rule shall
kapshwála pi kákshit íkta kʰapa x̣lúyma s(h)áwásh-tílixam kʰapa ukuk < Territory of
steal or break thing from other Indian-people in this Territory of
‘steal or break things from other Indian people in this Territory of’

Washington >, ɬúsh pus ɬáska mámuk dlét kákwa
Washington, good if they do just as
‘Washington, they should do just as’

prevail as that prescribed in this article in cases of depredations against
úkuk pípa chxí-álta wáwa pus ɬáksta mamuk-kʰə́ltəs
this paper just-now say if anyone make-worthless
‘this paper has just said for those who cause damages’

citizens. And the said tribes agree not to shelter or conceal offenders against
bástən-tílixam ɬaska íkta-s. pi úkuk s(h)áwásh-tílixam ɬáska ɬúsh-wáwa pus hílu áɬqi
American-people their thing-s. and these Indian-people they good-say that not later
‘to Americans and their belongings. And these Indian people promise not to’

ɬáska mamuk-yéʔlan pi ípsut ɬáksta tílixam mamuk-kákshit
they make-help and hide anyone people make-broken
‘help and hide any people who break’

the United States, but to deliver them up for trial by the authorities.
bástən-lá, pi ɬáska pá(t)lach kákwa tílixam kʰapa bástən polís pus
American-law, and they give such people to American police
‘American laws, and they will give such people to the American police to’

mamuk-kórt-haws ɬáska.
make-court-house them.
‘prosecute them.’

At the end of this Article, I’ve translated ‘for trial’ with the known Chinuk Wawa expression mamuk kort haws, literally ‘make courthouse’. This phrase is extremely common in Chinook Jargon as used later in the Kamloops Wawa newspaper, and I infer that this or a parallel expression also drawing from everyday English (like polis ‘police’) would have been what was available in the Jargon of 1855.

We may never know precisely, although additional “linguistic archaeology” strategies are available to us to reconstruct how things were said in 1855 — for example, analyzing the words in the Native languages for these acculturated concepts, to determine the operative metaphors and understandings.

We do need to bear in mind one perpetually vexing phenomenon: Compilers of written lexicons of CJ, of which there were many, dealt with issues of expensive paper and ink. As well, they exhibited cultural expectations of what sounded Indian enough to really be Jargon, as opposed to folks seemingly throwing in non-Indian words when at wit’s end. The net outcome was that plenty of words deriving from English and even French that we infer (e.g. from their presence as loans into our region’s Indian languages) were routinely being used in a Chinuk Wawa grammatical matrix, such as ‘cherries’ and ‘railroad’, seem to have been intentionally left out of 1800s documentation of this language. The deciding factor was likely that Whites would understand such words anyway when hearing them in Jargon, and that idea has merit. But it leaves us in 2018 with gaps in our picture of this pidgin-creole language, fillable only through serious research into linguistic archaeology.