Pioneers to Meet Soon

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Toward the end of a post-frontier news article announcing a Washington pioneers’ gathering, a sense of urgency is imparted by switching into untranslated Chinuk Wawa.

If you understood this message, you probably made sure to round up a half-dollar:

pioneers to meet soon 02

“The dinner will be a popular affair,” says Secretary [Allen] Weir, “the price having been fixed at 50 cents per plate, and the public will be invited to participate. Klonas hyu ankutty tillicum yaka chaco pe iskum muckamuck, pe quanisum mamook hyu klosh wa wa kopa ankutty sun. The old timers are expected to attend, as a matter of course, as their opportunities for attending such gatherings are diminishing with each succeeding year. If you miss it this year it will be your loss.”

— from the Olympia (WA) Washington Standard of February 12, 1915, page 1, column 4

A closer look at Weir’s Jargon:

Klonas hyu ankutty tillicum yaka chaco pe iskum muckamuck,
t’łúnas háyú ánqati-tílixam yaka cháku pi ískam mə́kʰmək,
perhaps many long.ago people he come and get food,
‘There may be a lot of old-timers coming and having food,’

pe quanisum mamook hyu klosh wa wa kopa ankutty sun.
pi kwánsəm mámuk háyú łúsh wáwa kʰupa ánqati-sán.
and always make much good talk about long.ago day.
‘and keeping the good conversation going about the olden days.’

That seems fluent to me. Bonus points to Weir for using the “resumptive pronoun” yaka, and double those points for using this usually singular form with a plural subject. Both are high style in fluent Indigenous-oriented Chinuk Wawa. Many or most Settlers had a hard time perceiving or properly employing this structure.

The one feature of Weir’s exemplary sentence that I think may be overtly modeled on English is < ankutty sun > ‘the olden days’. My sense is that fluent Jargon speakers usually just said < ankutty > ‘long ago’, just as they’d likely say alta (‘now’) for the English ‘nowadays’, seeing as how an expression with the word for ‘day’, such as ukuk san, defaults to being taken as ‘today; this specific day’.

To be quite clear, Mr. Weir seems to have known quite good Jargon. At this link you can find more evidence for his fluency in previous posts on my site.

Kahta mika tumtum?
What do you think?

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