“Ancotty” as a loanword into regional English


(Image credit: MoonAstro)

It can’t be a coincidence that post-frontier Pacific Northwest settler society, preoccupied with building up the mythic greatness of its earliest arrivals, borrowed Chinuk Wawa’s word for “old times” into English… 

…as an adjective, as an adverb, and as a generally widely-known word.

There are several common spellings (it’s ánqati in the Grand Ronde dictionary of 2012), but I’ll focus on this somewhat infrequent one, ancotty, as an illustrative sample.

In chronological order, here are a number of instances from Washington state newspapers. (This was a particularly Washingtonian spelling.)

Even the full sentences in Jargon, left untranslated, show us that this word was readily understood by a wide readership in this part of the world.


chinook quanisum ancotty

…another legend [banner] which was Greek to all but the old settler. It ran: ‘Chinook quanisum ancotty, alti chee chaco alki,’ which by liberal translation may be rendered ‘Living hitherto in the past, we now begin to live in the future.’
[DDR note: I understand this more like ‘(It was) Chinook always in the past, (but) now the future begins’, in stilted literary Chinuk Wawa.]

— from the Olympia (WA) Washington Standard of November 22, 1889, page 2, column 1

yacht tillicum

The name of Will Foster’s trim little yacht is Tillicum [‘friend’]…it is hyas close, pe conaway ancotty tillicum hyu close tumtum copa akoke kanim [‘very good, and all the old-time people are very fond of this boat’].

— from the Washington Standard of June 11, 1897, page 3, column 3

Here’s a text in genuine-looking pioneer Chinook Jargon that’ll entertain you plenty, especially if you compare the actual translation with the published, sanitized one…

our native cousins invited 1

Our “Native Cousins” Invited.

The following invitation in Chinook jargon which has been extended by our sister city, is bodily cribbed with some changes by the JOURNAL for the purpose of inviting our Native Cousins to attend Shelton’s Celebration and participate in our grand barbecue, horse races, etc.:

‘True Talk to All My Friends:’

KLAHIYOU SIX — Hyas lelie, ancotty ikt tacamony mox tatelum pe mox cold,
‘HELLO FRIENDS — Long ago, a hundred twenty-two years ago,’

nesika chope momook tzum papah copa King George, pe delate wawa: Mika hyu
‘our grandfathers wrote to King George, and spoke straight: You’re very’

masatcha, mika quanisum humopuch, pe nika chako solicks pe wake ticky mika
‘evil, you’re always a skunk (stink-ass), and I’m getting mad and don’t want you’

mitlite [Ø] nika illihe. Nika alta ticky moosum keequily nika posissee, pe halo
‘being on my land. I now want to sleep under my (own) blankets, and not’

wawa pe halo huehue copa King George man.
‘talk and not trade with Englishmen.’

King George delate iskum masatche tumtum; yaka chako copa Boston illihee,
‘King George got really enraged; he came to America,’

mamook poo nesika tillicum. Nika chope hyas skookum lema pe mimaloose hyu ‘shooting our people. My grandfather was strong of arm and killed many’

masatche man, pe yaka copet pe hyack kory.
‘bad men, until he [they] was [were] finished and ran away.’

Alta quanisum Boston man hyu tehee. Yaka ticky mika, pe mika kloochman, pe
‘Now the American is always very happy. He wants you, and your wife, and’

mika tenas, pe mika tillacum, pe mika elitah, chawko copa Shelton locket sun
‘your children, and your friends, and your slaves, to come to Shelton the 4th’

senamox moon, pe mitlite[.] Hyu muckamuck, hyu kory cuitan, kory canim, pe
‘of July, and there will be lots of food, lots of horseracing, canoe racing, and’

hyu tehee.
‘lots of fun.’

Chako, six! chako quinasum mika tillicum.
‘Come, friend! come always your friends.’

Klahyou nika ow pe nika atz.
‘Goodbye my brothers and my sisters.’


our native cousins invited 2

According to the Standard’s linquist [linguist], the following is the translation, as literal as possible:


GREETING — Long ago — one hundred and twenty-two years ago — our sires wrote the Declaration of Independence from English rule, in which a justification was shown from repeated acts of tyranny of Great Britain. These acts produced a feeling that demanded complete independence and total isolation from the mother country.

The result was that Great Britain inaugurated a war of subjugation, but our forefathers having right on their side triumphed.

We ever have been well pleased with the result. We soon intend to give evidence of our joy and we ask you, and your wife, and your children and your friends and your servants, to come to Shelton on the fourth day of July (7th month) and dwell for a time with us. We will have plenty to eat, and a feast of reason and flow of soul; horse and canoe races, and a superabundance of joy.

— from the Mason County Journal of June 17, 1898, page 3, column 4

  • “…the days of hyas ancotty, or in more universal parlance, ‘auld lang syne’ “
    (Washington Standard of November 24, 1899, page 2, column 4).

native sons smoker

The Native Sons have arranged to hold a ‘Smoker’ in this city, on Saturday evening, Oct. 6th. Conaway ancotty tillicum hiack chaco. Hyu tenas man ticky wawa copa
‘All old-time people, come right away. Many youths want to talk with’

mika. Iskum mika posissi, pe mitlight okoke polackoly, kakwa hyas ancotty. Hyu
‘you. Bring your blanket, and spend the night, like old times. Plenty of’

muckimuck, halo lum; hyu wawa, hyu hehe, pe halo masatche tumtum. Hyas
‘food, no booze; lots of conversation, lots of fun, and no bad feelings. It’s a very’

lelee nika nanich mika; hyu ticky mika chaco.
‘long time since I’ve seen you; badly want you to come.’

— from the Olympia (WA) Washington Standard of September 21, 1900, page 3, column 2

  • “A repast was served with that ancotty favorite, clam chowder, as the piece de resistance.”
    (Washington Standard of October 12, 1900, page 3, column 3.)
  • “Thos. Webb…is disconsolate over the fact that the Washington Pioneer’s Society have placed the limit for membership at as late a date as 1875 — nearly a quarter of a century after the ancotty chacos [‘came long ago’] came to the then Territory of Oregon…”
    (Washington Standard of June 14, 1901, page 2, column 1).
  • “The chee chacos[‘newcomers’] are not supposed to know much about Henry Miles, the ancotty tyee [‘old-time chief’],..”
    (Washington Standard of August 2, 1901, page 2, column 3).
  • “Mrs. Lyle may safely be classified with the true pioneers — the ancotty people before Washington was even a territory.”
    (Washington Standard of May 9, 1902, page 3, column 2.)
  • “Fortunately the ancotty tillicum [‘old friend’]had a $10-piece tied in one corner of a bandana…”
    (Washington Standard of December 19, 1902, page 2, column 6).
  • “An informal meeting of several old-time pioneers…These gentlemen are all hyas ancotty tillicums [‘very longtime friends’], and were out on a reilc [relic]-hunting expedition…”
    (Washington Standard of May 15, 1903, page 3, columns 2-3.)
  • “John Lotz, son of George Lotz, one of our ancotty pioneers…”
    (Washington Standard of July 29, 1904, page 3, column 1).

There’s also Caroline [Carrie] Cock Dunlap’s reminiscences, “Ancotty (Long Ago…)” in the Portland Oregonian of June 28, 1959, cited by a number of historians, but I haven’t read it.

Anyways, this word ancotty and the many variant spellings of it sure did make headway into becoming a regional English word — one that we’ve just about totally forgotten by now.

What do you think?