1890: Notes & Queries … and Salish?

I’m going to present an old article here, and then talk about one word in it…

…which makes me think about Lower Chehalis Salish again.

notes and queries 01

notes and queries 02

notes and queries 03

— from American Notes and Queries VI:7 (December 13, 1890), pages 78-79

The detail I want to discuss is the equation of Nootkan (i.e. Nuučaan’uł) < klack-ro > = Jargon < klack-roon > = English ‘good, or thank you’.

I don’t know where this magazine writer got the information being cited, but these spellings are new to me. The first word there is identifiable as Nuučaan’uł t’łeekoo ‘thank you’ — but not ‘good’.

About the second word — JK Gill’s 1909 edition of his Jargon dictionary has, on page 19, < klōshe > ‘good’, with an etymology from “O.C.” (original Chinookan) < tlak > “which also signifies to love”. (Samuel V. Johnson’s 1978 dissertation somehow manages to throw in a meaning ‘set free’ with < tlak >, but that’s a separate word, Jargon łáx̣.)

Now, I can understand folks in previous times confusing the common spelling < klosh(e) > ‘good’ with the common spelling < kla(c)k / tlak > ‘free’. But wherever this < tlak > is mentioned in Gill’s lexicon, it’s accompanied by that label “O.C.”, suggesting it’s not necessarily Jargon. So that’s our first caution sign.

Also, for ‘to love’, Franz Boas’ “Illustrative Sketch” of old Lower Chinookan gives only < q!at > (which we also know in Grand Ronde Chinuk Wawa). He does give < Lax > ‘appear, become visible’ on page 633. None of this means ‘good’ or ‘thank you’, so that’s a second warning sign.

I’d have thought the second word, if it’s Chinuk Wawa as we’ve always known it, should be łax̣áwyam ‘hello; goodbye; poor’ (and sometimes ‘thank you’) from the old Chinookan language — but that’s not ‘good’. So it’s a decent match for the shape of < klack-roon >, but not so close to the stated meaning.

Well, then, what if < klack-roon > were instead from Salish? An ongoing theme in my research is the finding that folks used to often confuse Chinookan (people and language) with Chehalis (people and language).

We keep finding that lots of Jargon words come from the Southwest Washington state Salish languages. And there is a very common word t’łáq’ʷ-ən ‘is good’ in Lower Chehalis and Quinault. (It appears to be uncommon in Upper Chehalis, and absent from Cowlitz.) That’s a good match for both the form and the meaning given in today’s article.

If the word < klack-roon > is Salish after all, it’s most likely Lower Chehalis, as Quinault was a bit off the beaten path from all the intense culture contact that created and nurtured the Jargon.

What have you learned?