Olally prospects


A different olally trick (image source: Fine Art America)

Chinuk Wawa personal names! And a cool ethnobotany trick!

And untranslated Jargon loans into local English of the Cariboo country, central British Columbia, in the frontier era:

olally prospects.PNG

OLALLY PROSPECTS. — Kloosh-le-Tete, an Indian, recently arrived from Bear lake, reports that the forest fires have destroyed the olally shrubs, and the prospects for an abundant harvest of olally muck-a-muck are dim through the smoke.

— from the Barkerville (BC) Cariboo Sentinel of June 12, 1869, page 3, column 4

This Indigenous person’s nim kopa tkop man (their “name to the White people”) appears to be Chinuk Wawa; I take it as an expression that’s new to us, but clear: łúsh-latét ‘good mind; sound reasoning; wise’.

< Le-Tete > of course came originally from French la tête ‘head’, and it kept that body-part meaning in expressions like sik-latét (hurt -head) ‘headache’.

But in Jargon the word took on extended senses including ‘mind, brain’. Only in the (re-)creolized speech of the Grand Ronde reservation community did a different, specialized word take hold (x̣úmx̣um) for ‘brains’ — referring to the physical organ, and only much later as a metaphor for ‘intelligence’.

Everywhere, including the Cariboo (and Grand Ronde), you find latét for a person’s way of thinking, in expressions such as q’ə́l-latét ‘hard-headed, obstinate, dense’.

(There are other idioms involving latet. However they’re hard for the average learner or researcher to track down. When 🙂 I’m hired to revise the Grand Ronde dictionary 🙂 I’ll put all expressions involving a given word into that word’s entry.) (See HIRE A LINGUIST.) ….

The < olally > in today’s clipping is the nonspecific Jargon word for ‘berries’, although in various districts it’s been taken to prototypically mean ‘salmonberries’ or ‘blackberries’, or whatever is most common locally. So I appreciate this phrase < olally muck-a-muck > (úlali-mə́kʰmək ‘berry food(s)’) as a pointedly generic category.

Really useful! I’ve seen similar expressions in 19th-century documents, so I see this as a real and previously overlooked feature of Chinuk Wawa semantics

(But it’s hard to track those down too, with all the variation in spellings, and the lack of a Grand Universal Dictionary of Chinuk Wawa that I can publish once funding comes.)

What do you think?
Kahta mika tumtum?