1907: “Naika thlosh” — Father Le Jeune incognito?

A reprinted BC article on Chinook Jargon is mostly old news, but there’s one excellent & genuine item in it…

…The author covers all the usual ground in treating CJ as a curiosity for outsider readers, but then mentions this:

naika thlosh

Nay, you may today visit many of the cities of the east, and even not a few in England, including its capital, and you will find men and women who, upon your putting to them the question “Kata maika?” — “How do you do?” — will look at you with a smile, and answer, “Naika thlosh” — “I am well.”

— from the Pendleton (OR) East Oregonian of June 7, 1907, page 10, column 3

(Click that link to read the whole shebang.)

I find this quite charming.

The spellings appear to be a unique local product, possibly even influenced by Kamloops Wawa‘s shorthand Chinuk Pipa — ‘Chinook Writing’.

(There you’d have < Kata maika? > and < Naika tlus >.)

I take them as the unsigned author’s sincere attempt to show just how Chinuk Wawa sounded to them as a speaker of it.

In particular, < thlosh > is a really unusual way to write the Jargon word for ‘good’. I find exactly zero other instances of it in the world!

No luck yet in tracking down the original periodical, which isn’t in many collections and might resolve the question of authorship.

It was a Catholic publication out of Victoria, so the author could have been any of the numerous BC priests who spoke and loved Jargon in that era.

Maybe even Father Le Jeune of Kamloops, himself!

He is known to have traveled and spoken Chinuk Wawa with folks in eastern Canada and in Europe.

And he had a florid writing style in English, similar to what’s sampled above.

What do you think?