“LiksK” (kopa naika mama)


“Extreme Unction” by Rogier van der Weyden (image credit: Wikipedia)

Spelled variously (how about < exstlem oksio > ), but all one rite of passage.

The earliest use of ‘extreme unction’, < Ekstlem Oksio >, in Chinook Jargon seems to be by Father Demers in the late 1830s.

I don’t find it in the vocabulary of that other quite early Catholic missionary of the lower Columbia River region, Father Lionnet.

Given the typical if not always spoken anti-Catholic prejudice of the 1800’s (and later; my mom told of being taunted as a “Cat Lick” kid in the Pacific Northwest), it’s no great astonishment that only with the next major Catholic documentor of the Jargon, Father Le Jeune of Kamloops, do we find published traces of this word.

Le Jeune almost certainly picked up the notion that it’s a Jargon word from his mentor, Demers’ quasi-protégé Bishop Paul Durieu, who taught him “Chinook” on the crossing from France in 1875.

Le Jeune defines this expression in Chinuk Wawa:

extreme unction

Ikta likstrim oksio? = Listrim [sic] oksio 
iht sakraminta ShK mamuk pus hilp iaka sili 
pi iaka itluil kopa ukuk tilikom wik saia 

What is extreme unction? = Extreme unction 
is one of the sacraments that Jesus Christ created to help the spirit 
and the body of those people who are near 

— from the Chinook Manual, (Kamloops, BC: no publisher named, 1896), page 98

And while it’s not a frequent word, he uses it a few more times, as in the news of French President Carnot being assassinated:

Klaska patlach haha milalam kopa iaka pi klaska
patlach likstrim osio [sic] kopa iaka.

He was given confession and 
he was given extreme unction.

— from Kamloops Wawa #118[c] (July 1894), page 134

The word also soon made the leap from Chinuk Wawa into tribal languages as employed by Le Jeune’s fellow Oblates, such as this Secwepemctsín Salish example:

< Seven Sacraments. > ShK shuchiɬka
is kaxtals tl milamin: lipatim, lakonfirmasio,
likalisti, lapilitas, likstlim oksio, lordr,

The seven
medicines that Jesus Christ gave us: baptism, confirmation, 
communion, penance, extreme unction, orders, 

— from Kamloops Wawa #120[b] (September 1894), page 158

Back in Chinook Jargon, as the Chinuk Pipa literacy bloomed in southern interior BC, certain shortcuts began to appear to speed up the voluminous writing that was going on.

Among those seen in the next selection are the cross-in-a-circle symbol for likalisti ‘the eucharist; the communion wafer; the sacrament of communion’, and LiksK as an abbreviation for ‘extreme unction’.

(Confusingly enough, Chinuk Pipa words that began in vowels, like oksio, were abbreviated by using their first consonant. Thus likstlim oksio => LiksK!)

Satirdi <30> Shun. <X> Iht silor, iaka
pu ankati tlun son, iaka mimlus ukuk son.
Iaka haha milalam, iskom ⊕ pi tlap likstlim oksio
pi iaka mimlus.

Saturday 30 June. A sailor, who 
had been shot three days before, died today. 
He made confession, received communion and got extreme unction 
before he died.

 …   …   … 

Pol Hinri wiht kakshit kopa iaka nik*
pi kopa iaka kwatin: pi iaka haha milalam, pi iaka
tlap LiksK, pi iaka mimlus. Kanawi tilikom
klaska krai pus klaska nanich ukuk aias tlus man

Paul Henry, too, was wounded in his neck 
and in his belly: and he made confession, and he 
got extreme unction, before he died. Everyone 
cried when they saw this excellent man 

— from Kamloops Wawa #198 (September 1901), pages 85 & 88

Here’s a further spreading of this word into Salish, this time as an abbreviation in written St’át’imcets, which I won’t translate here:

<128 bis.> Ta naplita, l wash hwis=
hitash twa konuh twa LiksK, a skinkan
shhockashtuitash* ta shituhwa? =
Cahnitásh* ta shítuhwa, kwanítash* ta
latáma, ɬanitash twa konuh, ptnitásh*
ta píka* sil, krilinitash ta lakrwaha muta
ta hkalna*, muta ta sh blish a ol*,
muta ta ɬaɬhsha* a n ɬam ta shkrolla saplin
lakɬ wa sh apakám ta naplita.

— from Kamloops Wawa #203[a] (December 1902), page 187

Did you see the many other loans from regional Chinook Jargon in the preceding paragraph, such as naplit(a) ‘priest’, latam(a) ‘table’, lakrwa(ha) ‘cross’, blish ‘bless’, o(i)l ‘oil’, and saplin ‘bread’. At least half of these, I believe, are no longer known to St’at’imcets speakers, giving us a glimpse at how different the language was a century ago.

I hope I’ve given you an interesting glimpse at one of the less well-known words of the Jargon today.

Thank you to Father Mike Blackburn OFM of St Francis of Assisi parish in Spokane for helping me to understand this sacrament better.

In loving memory of my mother,
T. Ann (Griffiths) Robertson,
July 5, 1935 – May 15, 2019