More from the father of the Golden Potlatch
There’s more to say about the Golden Potlatch!
We’ve looked at this song previously. Here it is published in a new venue, a newspaper, in early post-frontier times.
Today we have additional comments by its writer to the editor in Chinuk Wawa. I’ll give a running translation:
Nah! Tyee-Kopa Washington Standard,
ná! táyí kʰapa Washington Standard,
hey! chief at Washington Standard,
‘Say, editor of the Washington Standard,’
Nika ticky tenas wa-wa kopa mika:
náyka tíki tənəs-wáwa kʰapa máyka:
I want little-talk to you:
‘I’d like to have a word with you:’
Hyu ahnkotty tillikum Cumtux Mesika, pee Mesika quonisome delate
háyú ánqati-tílixam kə́mtəks msáyka, pi msáyka kwánisəm dlét
many old.time-people know you.folks [sic], and you.folks always really
‘Lots of old-timers know you folks, and you’ve always had a really’
skookum wa-wa kopa konnaway kah. Mesika delate cumtux okoke
skúkum wáwa kʰapa kʰánawi-qʰá. msáyka dlét kə́mtəks úkuk
strongly speak to every-where. you.folks really know this
‘strong voice heard everywhere. You certainly know this’
delate wa-wa. Nika tickey cultus potlatch okoke “he-he wa-wa” kopa
dlét wáwa. náyka tíki kʰə́ltəs-pátlach úkuk híhi-wáwa kʰapa
straight talk. I want pointless-give this fun-talk to
‘is the truth. I want to make a gift of these amusing words to’
Mesika, Yaka nem “GOLDEN POTLATCH.” Mesika nanetch? Klosh Mesika
msáyka, yaka ním “GOLDEN POTLATCH.” msáyka nánich? łúsh msáyka
you.folks, its name “GOLDEN POTLATCH.” you.folks see? good you.folks
‘you, called “GOLDEN POTLATCH.” Do you see it? Please’
iskum [Ø]; nika delate klosh tum-tum kopa Mesica, Cumtux?
ískum [Ø]; náyka dlét łúsh-tə́mtəm kʰapa msáyka, kə́mtəks?
take it; I really good heart to you.folks, understand?
‘accept it; I genuinely appreciate you, do you understand?’
Delate hyas Klahoyou Tyee. Mesika delate ankuttie Tillcums.
dlét háyás łax̣áwya táyí. msáyka dlét ánqati tílixam-s.
really big greeting chief. you.folks’ really old.time friend-Plural [sic].
‘A very big goodbye, chief. Your true old friend.’
EDWARD CLAYSON, Sr.
— from the Olympia (WA) Washington Standard of December 29, 1911, page 1, columns 4-6
And that is some straight old pioneer Chinook Jargon. It’s very fluent, and the most I have to say about it is this: Clayson seems to be addressing one person (the editor) with the plural “you”, although he may be including the newspaper’s readers in those mesika‘s. He also is technically pluralizing the final word, “friend”, as lots of speakers did.
Both are quirks that typify oldtime native English speakers’ use of the Jargon. The recipient, John Miller Murphy of the Washington Standard, was a very early pioneer of Washington Territory and would’ve understood the whole thing perfectly. And once again, here’s a newspaper man deciding to publish Jargon untranslated in an era when “the right people” would understand it anyway!