Pair shoot breeze in Chinook lingo


On a related note: the Tilikum (image credit: Mysteries of Canada)

Klahowya” also means “goodbye”…

…but this is a very nice find that shows how Chinuk Wawa held on into modern times in various places.

(Thanks to Sam for sharing it.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

— from the Victoria (BC) Colonist of March 29, 1952, page 5

Pair Shoot Breeze in Chinook Lingo

Colonist Marine Editor

Carmanah cupit. Nesika cooley copa Race Rock. Iskum konaway iktas. Cooley copa Victoria okook sun. Klahowya.”

This message may be all Dutch to you, but to T.E. Morrison, local agent for the federal transport department, it’s all Chinook.

Chinook is, or rather was, a form of trade language used extensively at one time by Indian tribes all along the British Columbia coast. Traders of the Hudson’s Bay Company also contributed to its development.

Mr. Morrison is an authority on the Chinook language. Capt. Harry Ormiston, of the lighthouse tender C.G.S. Estevan, also has a good grasp of the unusual Indian lingo. It is not uncommon for the two of them to communicate in Chinook.

The above message was received here by Mr. Morrison from the captain a few days ago.

In it, the deparment of transport was informed that prescribed work at the Carmanah Lighthouse had been completed; that the Estevan at that particular moment was proceeding toward Race Rocks and there would attend to another scheduled job, and that the lighthouse tender would reach Victoria late that day. Then, “how are you?”


Capt. Ormiston isn’t quite as much an authority on Chinook as is his boss, and every once in a while he resorts to poking through a small Chinook-English dictionary.

“We can always make ourselves understood to one another,” Mr. Morrison claims, “but those wireless fellows that transmit the messages between ship and shore must wonder what it’s all about!”

The transport agent’s association with Chinook goes back many years.

When he was a boy in his early teens, he helped his folks in their grocery and general provisions store near Port Alberni. Indians were among the store’s best customers, and young Tom caught onto their language. His mother visiting Victoria at the present time is a “whizz” at Chinook.

She knows the lingo backward.


What do you think?