Correction: Good & bad Chinook Jargon

A newspaper correction shows Settlers knew there was good & bad Chinook.

We have here contemporary testimony on the evergreen myth that the Jargon isn’t a language.

You can speak Chinuk Wawa poorly, especially while (evidently) making obscene gestures and drowning. At least, my own understanding of the editor’s intent is that “bad” means “ungrammatical”, since “reviled” already covers the idea of “bad language”.

Let me introduce the evidence by pointing out that I expected this article to be super-racist, but on second and third reading, found that it’s just at the regular background level of prejudice for the time. It strikes me that a person who died in these circumstances could have been of any ethnicity and still been written of in these words.

See how you feel about it.

Died Happy

Died Happy.

It seems from more recent information concerning the Indian who was drowned near the coal bunkers on the Fourth, that our statement was only partly correct. We stated at the time that he had a fit, but it seems now that it was a drunken mis-fit. Parties called to him to hang on and they would get a boat to him but he flourished one hand and reviled them in Chinook and bad Chinook at that. He went down, loaded, full of fight and fire-water and consequently happy.

— from the Dalles (OR) Daily Chronicle of July 7, 1894, page 3, column 2

What do you think?

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