LBDB: Prose, not lyrics (Part 4)


Kwis-kwis lo-lo wuk-willa? (Image credit:



LBDB convo 04

Iktah mika tikegh?
íkta mayka tíki(x̣)?
what you want?
DDR: ‘What do you want?’
LBDB: ‘What do you want?’
Kultus nika tikegh nanitch
kʰə́ltəs [1] nayka tíki(x̣) nánich. I want look.
DDR: ‘I just want to look around.’
LBDB: ‘I am just looking around.’

Nah! Mika tikegh nika mamook wash mika iktas?
ná! mayka tíki(x̣) [2] nayka mamuk-wásh mayka íkta-s?
hey! you want I make-clean your thing-s?
DDR: ‘Hey! Do you want me washing [sic] your clothes?’
LBDB: ‘Attention or listen, do you want me to wash your clothes?’

Kah mika house?
qʰá(x̣) mayka háws?
where your house?
DDR: ‘Where is your house?’
LBDB: ‘Where is your house or home?’
Eenati lemonti kopa Simco lesebation
ínatay lamətáy kʰapa səmk’wí* lesəbéyshən* [3]
across mountain at Simcoe reservation.
DDR: ‘Across the mountains at the Simcoe (Yakama) Reservation.’
LBDB: ‘Over the mountains at the Simco[e] reservation.’

Hy-iu snass chaco, delate kloash pee mamook chaco hyiu olallies
háyú snás cháko, dlét łúsh pi [4] mamuk-cháko háyú úlali-s. 
much rain come, really good and make-come many berry-s.
DDR: ‘It’s raining hard, it’ll be really good and [sic] grow lots of berries.’
LBDB: ‘Heavy rain is falling, which will be fine to bring many berries.’

Konsee cole mika mitlite okoke illahee?
qʰántsi kʰúl mayka míłayt [Ø] [5] úkuk ílihi?
how.much winter you be.located [in] this land?
DDR: ‘How many years have you lived [in] this place?’
LBDB: ‘How many years have you lived in this land?’
Moxt tahtlum pee klone
mákwst-táłlam pi łún. 
two-ten and three.
DDR: ‘Twenty-three.’
LBDB: ‘Twenty-three years.’

Kah mika iskum okoke sah-kullux?
qʰá(x̣) mayka iskam úkuk sik’áluks?
where you get those pants?
DDR: ‘Where did you get those pants?’
LBDB: ‘Where did you get those trousers?’
Nika iskum kopa okoke mah-kook house
nayka ískam [Ø] [6] kʰapa úkuk mákuk-háws. 
I get [them] from that selling-house.
DDR: ‘I got [them] from that store.’
LBDB: ‘I bought them from that store.’

LBDB convo 05

Iskum okoke la-hash pee mamook tklope [sic] stick
ískam úkuk lahásh pi mamuk-łq’úp stík.
get that axe and make-chopped wood.
DDR: ‘Get that axe and cut some wood.’
LBDB: ‘Get the axe and cut that wood.’

Nika tikegh mika chaco kopa nika tolth pee mamook illahee pee iskum wappato
nayka tíki(x̣) [2] mayka cháku kʰapa nayka t’úł* [7] pi mamuk-ílihi pi ískam wáptu. 
I want you come to my house and make-earth and get potato.
DDR: ‘I want you coming [sic] to my house and dig and get potatoes.’
LBDB: ‘I want you to come over to my home and dig potatoes.’
Konsee dollah mika potlatch nika pee mamook kopa mika?
qʰántsi dála mayka pátłach nayka pi [4] mámuk kʰapa náyka? 
how.much dollar you give me and work for you?
DDR: ‘How many dollars will you give me and [sic] work for you?’
LBDB: ‘How much money will you pay me for working for you?’
Klonass, spose mika mamook iskum konaway, nika potlatch moxt dollah
t’łúnas(,) spus mayka mamuk-ískam kʰánawi [Ø]* [6], nayka pátłach mákwst dála. 
who.knows(,) if you make-get all [it], I give two dollars.
DDR: ‘I reckon, if you collect all [of them], I’ll give two dollars.’
LBDB: ‘I don’t know but if you dig them all I will pay you two dollars.’

Konsee tenas mika?
qʰántsi tənás mayka [Ø] [8]?
how.many child you [have]?
DDR: ‘How many children do you have?’
LBDB: ‘How many children have you?’
Nika lak-it tenas mitlite nika house. Ikt tahtlum cole, klatawa kopa Boston kum-tux house
nayka lákit tənás míłayt [Ø] [5] nayka háws. íxt(,) táłlam kʰúl, łatwa kʰapa bástən kə́mtəks-háws [9].
My four child be.located [at] my house. one(,) ten winter, go to American/White knowing-house.
DDR: ‘My four children are at my home. The one  who’s ten years old goes to the White people’s school.’
LBDB: ‘I have four children in my home. One is ten years old and is going to the American school.’

Mika kloochman moos-moos kloash pee potlatch to-toosh kopa mika house?
mayka łuchmən-músmus łúsh pi [4] pátłach tutúsh kʰapa mayka háws [10]?
your woman-cow good and give milk for your house?
DDR: ‘Is your cow good and gives milk for your house?’ [sic]
LBDB: ‘Does your cow give enough milk for your own home use?’

LBDB convo 06

Nanitch nika mowitch itl-willie; chee nika iskum; spose mika tikegh mah-kook kloash spose mika potlatch sit-kum dollah pee iskum
nánich nayka máwich-íłwəli; chí nayka ískam [Ø] [6]; spus mayka tiki(x̣) mákuk [Ø] [6](,) łúsh spus mayka pátłach sítkum-dála pi ískam [Ø] [6] my deer-meat; I get [it]; if you want buy [it](,) good if you give half-dollar and take [it].
DDR: ‘Look at my venison; I just (went and) got it; if you want to buy some, you should give half a dollar and take it.’
LBDB: ‘See my venison; it is fresh; if you want to buy it, give me half a dollar and take it.’

Mika tum-tum hy-iu cole okoke cole illahee?
mayka tə́mtəm háyú kʰúl úkuk kʰúl-ílihi? [11]
you think much cold this cold-land?
DDR: ‘Do you think it’ll be very cold this winter?’
LBDB: ‘Do you think we are going to have a very cold winter?’
Na-whitka nika tum-tum chaco hy-iu cole ke-wah nika nanitch Kwis-kwis lo-lo tuk-willa kopa yahka house
nawítka nayka tə́mtəm cháko háyú kʰúl qʰíwa nayka nánich kwískwis [12] lúlu táqwəla kʰapa yaka [13] háws.
indeed I think come much cold because I see chipmunk [sic] carry nut to its house.
DDR: ‘I do think it’s going to get really cold because I’ve been seeing chipmunks [sic!] carrying nuts to their [sic] homes.’
LBDB: ‘Yes I think we are going to have a cold winter for the squirrels are carrying nuts away to their [sic] house.’

Comments on the above:

kʰə́ltəs [1] nayka tíki(x̣) nánich: Here, kʰə́ltəs is being used as the adverb ‘for no special purpose’, which helps you understand how — on the lower Columbia River and especially at Grand Ronde Reservation, Oregon — it became the word for ‘only; just’. If LBDB had intended the latter meaning, I’d expect her to have written < kopit >, which was the normal Settler and northern-dialect word. Having said that, it’s interesting to contemplate that LBDB’s childhood home, Steilacoom, was in fact more like an outpost of lower Columbia River settlement at the time than a part of the eventually separate, northern, identity of Washington.

mayka tíki(x̣) [2] nayka mamuk-wásh… : Where that [2] is sitting, I’d expect a fluent speaker to use the word pus ‘in order to; so that’, to introduce an essentially subjunctive clause. We can note that in today’s Jargon sample, LBDB never uses that word, whereas she consistently uses < spose > for ‘if’. SEE NOTE 4!!!

səmk’wí* lesəbéyshən* [3] : White folks do pronounce this then-prominent name as “Simco” due to its usual spelling “Simcoe”, but in Yakama Sahaptin it’s as I show here phonetically. The borrowed English word ‘reservation’ isn’t documented elsewhere in Jargon that I’ve experienced, but I fully believe that, being common in local spoken English, it’d find its way into people’s Chinuk Wawa.

dlét łúsh pi [4] mamuk-cháko háyú úlali-s: As we’ve seen previously with LBDB’s speech, she shares a trait with some other pioneers and with the normal usage in certain areas like north-central Washingon, of substituting pi for the old, expected subordinate-clause marker pus. SEE NOTE 2!!!

mayka míłayt [Ø] [5] úkuk ílihi: Here’s the “null” variant of the generic preposition kʰapa. It occurs again later in today’s text.

nayka ískam [Ø] [6]: And here’s the “null” 3rd-person inanimate / nonspecific pronoun, which is normal and fluent Jargon. It occurs again later in today’s text. 

nayka t’úł* [7]: It’s important to advise folks not to use this word for ‘house’ in their own Jargon, I feel. It was never common and it’s never found in documented sentences, where háws is always used.

qʰántsi tənás mayka [Ø] [8]? Here’s another fluent “null” form, an alternative to míłayt ‘have’.

kə́mtəks-háws [9]: I’ve written about this ‘knowledge-house’ expression before; it was a genuine early-creolized Jargon term for ‘school’. It isn’t in the usual old Jargon dictionaries, but we have plenty of proof of it in people’s actual usage.

pátłach tutúsh kʰapa mayka háws [10]: This is an odd-sounding sentence to fluent Chinuk Wawa speakers, as pátłach tutúsh = ‘to nurse, to breastfeed’, and kʰapa mayka háws commonly denotes ‘to your house’. It requires doing a doubletake before you can imagine the meaning LBDB intends here, with the typical northern/Settler usage of < kopa > + noun as ‘for’. I feel it would’ve been more clear if she’d said something like < kopa mika tillikums > ‘for your people/family’, or indeed just < kopa mesika > ‘for you folks’.  

mayka tə́mtəm háyú kʰúl úkuk kʰúl-ílihi? [11]: There’s a post-frontier era Chinuk Wawa genre of Settlers asking Indians to forecast the weather. All those cowboy-and-Indian movies seem to carry a kernel of accuracy here, as cringe-inducing as the trope can get.  A grammatical note — LBDB’s’ úkuk kʰúl-ílihinot introduced by any < kopa > ‘in, during, etc.’, is perfectly fluent and normal. The big majority of time adverbs are used without a preposition, e.g. púlakʰli is normal for ‘at night’, sítkum-sán is normal for ‘at noon’, and so on. 

kwískwis [12]: Old-school dictionaries have this as ‘squirrel’ and I don’t doubt LBDB knew this word in that sense from childhood. At Grand Ronde it’s specifically ‘chipmunk’. Your mileage may vary.

kʰapa yaka [13] háws: Here LBDB may, or may not, be using yaka (normally ‘his, her’) as ‘their’. It’s impossible to tell, except from her own English translation with ‘their’. Honestly, I lean toward thinking she really meant the singular in her Jargon, as the plural yaka is far more characteristic of later, northern dialects than of her earlier, more southerly one. 

Summary of the above:

Mrs. Downey-Bartlett’s Chinook Jargon is again highly fluent, and generally a very fine model for readers to follow. There are a couple of caveats, as we’ve previously found, where she dredges up some dusty old “dictionary word” that pretty much nobody would understand. And those portions of today’s text suggest to me that this genuine early pioneer speaker was simply a bit rusty at talking Jargon when she wrote this stuff in her sixties. I’d like to emphasize that LBDB’s speech is historically interesting, showing many traits that typified early-creolized (Fort Vancouver) CJ; this makes eminent sense, as Fort V. was the launching point for most of the early newcomers headed north to settle.

Stick around for the next installment in this mini-series…

What have you learned?