How many commandments is this, total? :) (10 Commandments, Part 2)

Part 1 (in effect) of this mini-series of multiple 10 Commandments was Laura Belle Downey-Bartlett’s, as presented in her little-known Chinuk Wawa dictionary. Her version of them is the one in E.H. Thomas’s much-reprinted 1935 book on the Jargon as well — which Duane Pasco calls “a very poor translation“.

Our second installment is the version found in C.M. Tate et al.’s “Indian Methodist Hymn-Book” pages 47-48. See my comment at the end of this article for a clue to something surprising.

10 C Methodist 01

10 C Methodist 02


1 Kopet ikt, nika Saghalie-Tyee.
kʰapit-íxt, náyka sáx̣ali-táyí.
only-one, I above-chief.
‘Only I am God.’

2 Wake mika iskum ikta spose mamook Saghalie-Tyee yaka.
wík mayka ískam íkta spus mamuk-sáx̣ali-táyí yaka [sic] [1].
not you take anything make-above-chief him.
‘Don’t you take anything to make him [sic] be a God.’

3 Wake mika mamook kultus yaka nem Saghalie-Tyee.
wík mayka mamuk-kʰə́ltəs yaka ním sáx̣ali-táyí [2].
not you make-worthless his name above-chief.
‘Don’t you make God’s name worthless.’

4 Klosh nannitsh Sabbath-sun.
(t)łúsh-nánich sábat*[3]-sán.
good-watch sabbath-day.
‘Take care of [sic] the sabbath day.’

5 Klosh nannitsh mika papa pe mika mamma.
(t)łúsh-nánich [4] mayka pápá pi mayka mámá.
good-watch your father and your mother.
‘Take care of [sic] your father and your mother.’

6 Wake mika mamook memaloos klaxta.
wík mayka mamuk-míməlus (t)łáksta.
not you make-dead anyone.
‘Don’t you kill anyone.’

7 Wake mika ma-mook ma-sat-chie kona-moxt klootchman.
wík mayka mamuk(-)masáchi kʰanumákwst [5] (t)łúchmən.
not you make(-)evil together.with woman.
‘Don’t you do evil things with women.’

8 Wake mika kepswalla ikta.
wík mayka kapswála íkta.
not you steal anything.
‘Don’t you steal anything.’

9 Wake mika kliminawit.
wík mayka t’łəmínxwət.
not you tell.lies.
‘Don’t you tell lies.’

10 Wake mika mamook tumtum spose mika kepswalla huloima tilikum klaska
wík mayka mamuk-tə́mtəm [6] spus mayka kapswála x̣lúyma tílikam (t)łaska
not you make-thought steal other people their
‘Don’t you decide [sic] that you’ll steal other people’s’

klootchman pe iktas.
(t)łúchmən pi íkta-s.
woman and thing-s.
‘women and belongings.’

wík mayka ískam íkta spus mamuk-sáx̣ali-táyí yaka [sic] [1] — This is less-than-expert Jargon due to its referencing an inanimate thing (íkta) with an animate pronoun (yaka ‘she/he’).

yaka ním sáx̣ali-táyí [2] — This, by contrast, is awesome Jargon. The common order of wording in a possessive expression like ‘God’s name’ would be sáx̣ali-táyí yaka ním (‘God his name’). But it’s completely grammatical, and pretty expert style, to switch it around like this Commandment does (‘his name God’)…it’s just less common. 

sábat*[3]-sán — This ‘Sabbath’ word is new to us, not really a known quantity in other Chinook Jargon documents from the old days. 

(t)łúsh-nánich [4] mayka pápá pi mayka mámá — This literally means ‘watch out for’ or ‘take care of’ your parents! I feel Laura Belle Downey-Bartlett put it more clearly with her wording to ‘pay attention to’ your parents.

kʰanumákwst [5] (t)łúchmən — This is very clear, and I think superior to LBDB’s use of the generic preposition < kopa >, which wound up sounding ambiguous between doing bad things ‘with’ and doing things ‘to’ women. 

mamuk-tə́mtəm [6] spus mayka kapswála — Again, what happened to not coveting the servants?! I think Anglo-Saxon/Protestant Christian missionaries of the 19th century happened to be quite hung up on opposing slavery, including traditional Indigenous slavery, so they sometimes left mentions of it out of their preaching and Bible translating. By the way, the main verb here, mamuk-tə́mtəm, means ‘decide (to do)’, which is clunky and unclear.

Overall, a mixed result from a committee translation effort — not highly impressive.

Stay tuned for a wild plot twist, as today’s translation turns up in practically the least-expected place!

Kata maika tumtum?
What do you think?