Took big city by storm

dw king offices

Physician D.W. King had offices in the upper floor of this building (image credit: Wenatchee World)

Just a morsel of Chinook Jargon here…

Dr. D.W. King, president of the Wenatchee Commercial Club (must be the equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce), speaking at a Wenatchee Day observance that was calculated to promote that Central Washington town to Seattle residents via an attending Post-Intelligencer reporter:

hiyu skookum wenatchee

“Hiyu skookum Seattle, hiyu skookum Wenatchee.”

— from the Wenatchee (WA) Daily World of September 7, 1909, page 2, column 3

That’s our latest example of Jargon being left un-translated in a newspaper article. Essentially everyone understood this simple sentence, locally:

It means ‘Seattle is very wonderful, Wenatchee is very wonderful’.

The twist is, it’s not the most grammatical Chinuk Wawa. Two reasons:

  1. < Hiyu > as an intensifier ‘very’ is more characteristic of Settler usage, including in their own mother tongue, English. It seems to stem from a confusion of hayu ‘much, many’ with the very old Chinuk Wawa prefix hayas- ‘very’ (from a word originally meaning ‘big’).
  2. < Skookum > as ‘excellent’ is also straight Settler usage, again frequent in their own English. (Note the “Skookum” brand of apples from Wenatchee.) Originally, and continuing in fluent Chinuk Wawa, this word meant ‘strong’.

Other than that, Dr. King’s statement is excellent Jargon; I have a lot of praise for his fluent use of the Predicate – Subject word order that’s a “best practice” for descriptive statements in this language. (‘Very excellent (is) Seattle’…)

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