Grand Ronde Chinuk Wawa in the “Kalapuya Texts” (part 4: Calques)

bad water house


As you read what I suggest are discoveries below, be aware that asterisks make clear when I’m guessing…

Part 4: CALQUES:

I’ve just published a post here showing how a word for ‘school’ in Lower Cowlitz Salish, póʔt-pipa-l̓uʔł (literally ‘know-paper/writing-house’), is probably a loan translation, a “calque”, from an otherwise never-documented early (creolized) lower Columbia Chinuk Wawa phrase: *(tənəs-)kə́mtəks-pípa-háws, literally ‘(little-)know-writing-house’.

(I digress now: The kə́mtəks part of that C.W. compound is extremely interesting, tending to support the frequent claims of eyewitnesses to that important CW dialect about (1) the frequently claimed use of ‘know’ in complex forms including habitual-action expressions, and (2) the use of complicated multi-part compounds.)

Well, back to the K’alapuyan languages…

On page 167 of Melville Jacobs’s 1945 “Kalapuya Texts” he shows us a-BiBa Dumai. (Today I’m leaving out Jacobs’s special symbols, by the way.) I take this expression as a noun compound, and Jacobs explains it as one: ‘paper (book) house’, meaning ‘school’! This is an exact parallel to the expression in Cowlitz Salish — a totally unrelated language, except that speakers of both were also highly fluent in “the Jargon”. So this K’alapuyan expression appears to be further evidence of an early Chinook Jargon phrase.

In this light, we should take note also of a passage translated as ‘your children will speak (read from) the paper (book)…like Americans’, on page 167. That looks like a way of phrasing that derives from the idea I’ve suggested of schools as “paper-houses”.

Page 167 also brings us various K’alapuyan location terms that I strongly suspect are further reflections of “Jargon” These include terms such as

  • ‘trading house’ for ‘store’ ( = Chinuk Wawa mákuk-háws),
  • ‘hammer house’ (CW háma-háws?) and
  • ‘iron house’ (CW chíkʰəmin-háws?), both meaning ‘blacksmith shop

I see the last two expressions as being potential new discoveries in Chinuk Wawa.

There had to be a way of saying ‘blacksmith’, because every Pacific NW treaty that established an Indian reservation expressly provided for the US government to build a smithy. That’s what the speaker on page 167 is discussing.

The K’alapuyan languages might be giving us our first-ever clues, believe it or not, about how that was said in Jargon!

Another location-term of interest is ‘the people’s place’ [ = ‘Indian reservation’] on page 171. This strikes me as probably based on Chinook Jargon’s s(h)áwásh-ílihi (literally ‘Indian-place’), and it’s backed up by the presence of  parallel expressions like one in the Quileute language of coastal Washington, poʔó•kʷo-lo (‘Indians’-s, people-‘s) t̓siá•ti (‘place, land’).

Then there’s Du-qaʹtsqa’ ampGE:-‘du:ma:ʹ  ‘to a bad water house (saloon)’, and -laʹmDu:ma:ʹ ‘rum house (saloon)’, both on page 323. Both are highly plausible as being based on Jargon phrases that happen not to be directly documented: *masháchi-tsə́qw-háws and *lám-háws.

Similarly, other acculturated terminology is likely to reflect community-wide practices of coining new words at Grand Ronde.

An example I suggest is on page 167, ‘ground breaker’ for ‘plow’. The word for this noun in known Jargon is a French borrowing < la charrue > reported by George Gibbs. We also know of a verb ‘to plow’ in the Grand Ronde dictionary, (mamuk-)t’łə́x̣-t’łəx̣-íliʔi. That’s literally ‘(make-)tear-tear-ground’. So it’s not a wild interpretation to take page 167 as evidence of a noun based on that verb, something like *(mamuk-)t’łə́x̣-t’łəx̣-íliʔi-íkta. There really are compounds as long as this is Jargon, ending in the all-purpose word for ‘thing’…

Words for metals are prominent: on page 278, an expression ‘hard iron’ for ‘steel’, and ‘big hard iron’ (!!) for ‘the hardest steel’ — i.e. tempered — stand out. Again, we already knew of some Grand Ronde words for ‘steel’ (páya-chíkʰəmin — literally ‘fire-metal’ — and stíl). It’s no great stretch of imagination to see in the K’alapuya evidence some traces of a possible older expression like *q’ə́l-(q’əl-)chíkʰəmin (‘hard-(hard-)metal’) and *hayas-q’ə́l-(q’əl-)chíkʰəmin (‘very-hard-(hard-)metal’). The second form, corresponding to that ‘big hard iron’ phrase, is especially significant; the K’alapuyan speaker has evidently translated old Grand Ronde Chinuk Wawa’s intensifier hayas- (‘very-‘) with its original etymological meaning of ‘big’! That’s very place- and era-specific.

Definitely the other metal names in the Kalapuyan languages are based on Chinuk Wawa. Page 302 has ‘yellow dollar’ for ‘gold’, which is pʰíl-dála (‘red-dollar’) or pʰíl-chíkʰəmin (red-metal) at Grand Ronde.

(Two important points here:

(A) ‘dollar’ and ‘metal’ are pretty much synonyms in early Jargon, and

(B) Indigenous languages are known to divide up the range of color words differently from English. For example, ‘blue’ and ‘green’ are one word pchíx̣ in GR CW. I think it’s plausible that K’alapuyan might have translated GR CW pʰíl as either ‘red’ or ‘yellow’. Note that the same metal is also called ‘yellow-red-dollar’ in the “Kalapuya Texts”.)

Page 329 shows us ‘white dollars’ for ‘silver’. Compare that with GR CW tk’úp-chíkʰəmin, having the same literal and actual meanings.

Page 330 ‘push-needles’ is a descriptive Verb-Object form (literally ‘(it) pushes needles’) for ‘thimbles’. I’m not aware of any already-known word for ‘thimble’ in the Jargon, so the *pʰúsh-k’ípʰwat (or *pʰúsh-k’ípʰwat-íkta) that this implies for Grand Ronde Chinuk Wawa would be a worthy discovery.

Page 329 contains ‘horse’s house’ = ‘stable’. This would be kʰíyutən-háws in Jargon, which — aside from paralleling the known GR (and Kamloops) CW term músmus-háws ‘stable’ (literally ‘cow-house’) — is actually known from the 1892 handwritten dictionary of lower Columbia CW by Father St Onge.

Lastly, I’d like to point out page 329’s ‘grain (sa’ble) house’ = ‘granary’. This would be *saplél-háws (literally ‘wheat house’) in GR CW. Again here’s a pretty darn believable inferred form, seeing as how we do know that regional CW had ways of saying ‘granary’. Father St Onge once again is a big help, documenting two synonyms: the quite similar < whit-hows > (‘wheat-house’) as well as < ton-hows > (literally ‘storage-house’).

What have you learned?