Qʷi·qʷi·diččaqa: The Jargon in Makah

makah chinook

Makah Chinook — in 12 versions? I’ve only heard one of them (image credit: Library of Congress)

Here is another Indigenous language of the northern coastal regions that preserves quite a bit of good Chinuk Wawa…

…and fascinatingly, Makah also, like several other languages we’ve been looking at, implies a good amount of Chinuk Wawa phrases that we don’t have direct evidence of within CW.

A couple of notes:

A number of words that are single syllables in Jargon show up in Makah pronunciation with an “A” at the end, which I’ve underlined wherever it occurs. In the same way, the English loan ba●la ‘ball’ comes to have two syllables.

The dot ● lengthens the vowel before it. (I’ve trivially simplified the spellings found in Matthew Davidson’s dissertation by replacing all colons ( : ) with this dot.)

Here you go, mostly in reverse alphabetical order just to stick it to your expectations…


  • sa●dti● ‘Sunday’ — cp. sánti, sa●dti●[-]ʔo●was (Sunday-house) ‘church’ — cp. BC Chinuk Wawa < sunday house > AND NOTE that the suffix (also seen in several words below) appears to be a loan from Chinuk Wawa háws, maybe also note sa●di●tax̣ ‘Saturday’ — cp. perhaps sánti &/or English ‘Saturday’ plus perhaps a Makah suffix meaning ~ ‘before’?
  • c’akʷa●[-]čeyał ‘one day; Monday’ — cp. CW íxt-sán
  • ʔaƛ[-]čeyał ‘two days; Tuesday’ — cp. mákwst-sán
  • wi●yu[-]čeyał ‘three days; Wednesday’ — cp. łún-sán
  • bu●[-]čeyał ‘four days; Thursday’ — cp. lákit-sán
  • šuč̓a[-]čeyaɬ ‘Friday’ — cp. qwínəm-sán

wa●yid ‘wine’ — I’ve somehow left this loan out of some other lists I’ve shown you lately from more northerly coastal languages, but it really keeps showing up with great regularity & it was Jargon — cp. CW wáyn

ʔupu●č ‘rump, bottom’ — cp. úpʰuch (but the long second syllable in Makah pronunciation implies local Jargon upʰúch, perhaps suggesting the north coast’s typical stress shift to word end)

t’ume●nuwis ‘spiritual power’ — cp. t’əmánəwas and notice that (1) we see the original popping-T pronunciation maintained and (2) the “E” in the Makah pronunciation matches most coastal Jargon’s tendency to say original “A” sounds as the vowel in English bet or bat 

ti● ‘tea’ — cp. tʰí 

te●kidis ‘socks, stockings’ — cp. stákin, with the loss of the initial “S” likely indicating that the word came in via speakers of a neighbouring Salish language such as S’Klallam, where it’s natural to optionally remove s- from the beginning of a noun

te●dups ‘turnips’ — cp. Kamloops CW < tyurnips >

ta●la● ‘money’ — cp. dálata●laʔ[-]u●was ‘bank’ — cp. dála-háws, ta●[-]ta●la[-]qƛsuba (dollar-?in.the.eyes?) ‘eyeglasses’ — perhaps cp. dála-siyáxus (dollar-eyes)

šuča●[-]ʔatx̣ (soldier-people/tribe) ‘soldier’ [note the English translation in the singular] — cp. shúlchast from the English plural and note that other northern coastal languages also treat this loanword like the name of an ethnic group

sweta● ‘sweater’ — here’s another loan that I’ve left out of recently shared lists from northern coastal languages that it occurs in widely…I’d guess it was used a good deal in regional Jargon, considering the prominence of sweaters, especially Indian-made ones, in the area

su●p ‘soap’ — cp. súp

su●p ‘soup’ — cp. Kamloops CW < sup >, Grand Ronde lasúp

slahe●l ‘bone game’ — cp. slahál 

pi●špiš ‘cat’ — cp. early Jargon < pish-pish >, pi●[-]pi●špiš[-]k’uk (cat-resemble) ‘bobcat’ — cp. BC CW < wail kat > and consider how interesting it is that a number of north coast languages express ‘wild cat’ species with Jargon loans!

pi●š[-]be●d ‘fisherman’ — dictionaries of Makah and Nuučaan̓uł tend to equate this with English  ‘fisherman’ but the pronunciation indicates a closer parallel with CW < pish man >

pa●yis ‘pie’ — yet another word I’ve been leaving out when I show you lists of loans into northern coastal languages, this too is so frequent that it seems less like a spontaneous recent borrowing from English and more like widespread Jargon, and sure enough you can find it in CW

pa●ła●č ‘potlatch’ — cp. pálach; the Makah pronunciation is typical of the northern coast; interestingly it’s more or less a re-borrowing of a word that started out in Makah’s closely related southern Wakashan languages and Nootka Jargon

ƛ̓ux̣ƛ̓ux ‘oyster’ — one oyster species appears to be native as far north as southeast Alaska, so this widely distributed word might be just one of the several zoological terms that are “areally” shared in the region, but cp. t’łə́x̣wt’łəx̣w

lišo●l ‘shawl’ — cp. lishól

li●lu●t ‘train’ — cp. BC CW < ril rod >

libi●tu● ‘lamb, sheep, wool’ — cp. limotó

lapu●ta●y ‘bottle’ — cp. lapotʰáy

lalu●pa● ‘ribbon’ — cp. ləlupá

la●ba ‘whiskey, alcohol’ — cp. lám, la●baʔ[-]u●was ‘bar’ — cp. CW *lám-háws as implied in the corresponding Haida expression

kʷišu● ‘pig’ — cp. kúshu, with the long Makah final syllable suggesting the northern coast’s unique stress shift to word-end as seen in Haida, Tsimshian, and Tlingit loans from CW

kʷa●ta● ‘quarter’ — cp. kʰwáta

ku●t ‘coat’ – cp. kʰút

ku●la● ‘gold’ — cp. gúl

ku●l ‘school’ — cp. skúl and note the same loss of initial “S” seen in ‘stocking’ above

kibta●la, kiwta●la ‘horse’ — cp. kʰíyutən

ke●bič ‘cabbage’ — cp. kʰápech

hu●wa●ye[-]●tx̣ (Hawaii-people) ‘black person’ — cp. wáyhi

hi[-]hibiks[-]a●dił (deer.tallow-??fire??) ‘candle’ — cp. klís-pʰáya (grease-fire)

ha●ps ‘hops’ — cp. háps

hama[-]ʔo●was (feces-house) ‘toilet’ — perhaps cp. Kamloops CW < shit > + háws and perhaps also cp. hə́m ‘stink, smell’ if we can see here the Makah addition of an extra “A” (thus hama); “M” is no longer a common sound in Makah, where it’s normally evolved into “B”, so this word may be from the same historical source as, or influenced by, šaba ‘feces’ which has a cognate šu(m-) in Nuučaan̓uuł

ča●yde●[-]tx̣ (Chinese-people) ‘Chinese’ — cp. Kamloops CW < chaina man >

c’i●kc’i●k ‘wagon’ — cp. t’síkt’sik and notice the faithful preservation of the original popping consonants

bu●sbu●s ‘cow, bull’ — cp. músmus

bu●la● ‘engine, machine, motor’ – cp. mula, the usual form on the northern coast whereas on the lower Columbia River it’s lemulá 

bitu●li● ‘place name (city of Victoria)’ — cp. Hul’qumi’num mutóoliyu’

bi●ta ‘dime’ — cp. bít

bišat’i● ‘missionary, preacher’ — not a word known in most other Jargon dialects, but missionaries used Chinuk Wawa a great deal, and it’s quite compelling to see how extensively nativized the pronunciation is in Makah

bi●dis ‘beans’ — cp. (la)bíns

bak[-]o●was ‘store’ — cp. mákuk-háws

badwa●[-]ʔatx̣ (man.of.war-people) ‘sailer’ [sic] — cp. the widely occurring word ‘man of war’ in north coast languages; this was likely to have been a regional Jargon word (men of war were common ships in these waters only in fairly early times (pre-1900), when English wasn’t widely known); notice that like ‘soldiers’ in Makah, it’s treated like a tribal name

qʰáta máyka tə́mtəm?
What do you think?