Re-evaluating Boas’s 1888 “Chinook Texts” (Part 10)

There’s some very good translation by Franz Boas here…

…as well as some really solid critiques to be made.


SONG #28:

chinook songs 28

Wek tlaksta mamuk sick naika tumtum.
wík-(t)łáksta mamuk-sík náyka tə́mtəm.
not-who make-upset my heart. 
‘Nobody can grieve me!’

DDR: ‘Nobody can upset me.’

Annie mamuk kakoa. 

áni mámuk kákwa.
Annie do so.
‘That is Annie’s work.’
DDR: ‘Annie (already) did.’

Comments on song #28:

I have no substantive points to make here.

Summary of song #28:

Franz Boas did a really fine job translating this ditty.


SONG #29:

chinook songs 29

Tlos kapet maika tiki naika alta iaur [SIC]. 
(t)łús [1] kapít* máyka tíki náyka álta yawá* [2]
good finish you want me now there
‘All right, if you do not like me any more now.’ 
DDR: ‘Well then, you should stop loving me now.’

Wek atlki weqt maika nanitch ka naika kuli. 

wík áłqi wə́x̣t [3] máyka nánich qʰá náyka kúli [4]
not eventually again you see where I travel
‘You shall not see where I go.’
DDR: ‘You’ll never see again where I get around to.’

Comments on song #29:

(t)łús [1] kapít* máyka tíki náyka: Boas seems to me to take the initial (t)łús as having two functions and meanings at once — (A) as the word for ‘good’, specifically as if the lyric were (t)łús kákwa ‘all right; so be it’, as seen in other songs in the collection; and (B) (s)pus ‘if’! This reduces my confidence that he’s accurately noted down the singer’s words. But I’m going with what he’s showing us, (t)łús, and to me this appears to be yet a different function, the ‘gentle’ imperative marker.

álta yawá* [2] bears comment. In the Glossary that ends his article, Boas portrays < iaur > as a synonym of < yakwa > ‘here’. However, I feel confident that < iaur > is actually Chinuk Wawa’s yawá ‘there’. In addition, I’m convinced that it’s being used in the distinctive non-spatial sense typical of BC Jargon, known from hundreds of examples in the Kamloops region, as ‘(so) then, (well) then’! 

wə́x̣t [3] máyka nánich — Boas omits the word for ‘again’ from his translation, depriving the reader of the strong threat of desolation that the singer is making. Note that nánich here seems more like ‘know from personal experience’ than ‘see, observe’.

qʰá náyka kúli [4]— I find myself often pointing out to learners that in BC and other regions north of the lower Columbia River, kúli (literally ‘run’) is much more frequently used in a slangy sense ‘to get around, to hang out’. (Fascinatingly, that metaphorical sense is absent at Grand Ronde, so they don’t have the common old slang phrase < cultus cooley > ‘to get up to no good, to paint the town black’.) 

Summary of song #29:

I feel there’s quite a lot of nuance that Boas missed when translating this one. 


SONG #30:

chinook songs 30

Dja! Kada maika tumtum?
dja! qʰáta máyka tə́mtəm?
you.there! how your heart?
‘Dja! What do you think now?’
DDR: ‘Hey you! What are you thinking?’

Kwansum maika soleks naika. 

kwánsəm máyka sáliks náyka. 
always you angry.at me
‘You are always cross with me.’
DDR: ‘You’re always mad at me.’

Dja! Tlos delet mash naika. 

dja! (t)łús dlét másh náyka. 
you.there! good truly leave me.
‘Dja! You had better desert me altogether.’
DDR: ‘Hey you! Better leave me for real.’

I don’t care alta. Ya.

< I don’t care > álta. ya. 
I don’t care now. how.strange.
‘I don’t care now. Ya.’ 
DDR: ‘I don’t care now. For Pete’s sake!’

Comments on #30:

This song uses a couple of the same Haida-based interjections that we’ve seen in previous lyrics. Their quite specific meanings, skimmed over by Boas, give a much stronger emotional flavour to the song.

Summary of #30:

See ‘Comments’.


What have you learned?