1901: Martha Douglas Harris’s “Chee-chee-ka” (Part 4)

mink tail

(ímage credit: ebay)

Today we conclude our look into a fascinating Jargon story from one of “Father of BC” James Douglas’s human children.

Once again, there’s plenty of great knowledge to be gotten here…

My customary advice up front — the punctuation & spelling in these older printed sources can need careful interpretation by us. Typesetters couldn’t be expected to know Jargon, and they worked from an author’s handwritten draft.

Also, Martha Douglas Harris’ Chinook and her own English translation don’t entirely correspond to one another; someone, whether it was she or her editors or those infernal printers’ devils, may have misplaced part or all of a crucial slip of paper.

So things get a tiny bit puzzling, as you’ll indeed see below. Contributing some confusion are a couple of Hulq’umin’um’ Salish words that the author uses without making clear what they’re intended to mean. Failing to find plausible identities for them in the two Hulq’umin’um’ dictionaries I’m using, I’ve had to leave blank spaces in my translation.

As I’ve been doing in the previous installments of this mini-series, here is a key to the Hulq’umin’um’ words that MDH sprinkles into her Chinuk Wawa, together with the usual CW ways to say those concepts. I list these in their order of appearance in the story:

  • spá:l’,     ‘raven’     háyásh-k’ák’aʔ
  • chuchí’q’un’,     ‘mink’     mínk
  • < kentsum >     ‘the tide’?     sáltsəqw ‘the ocean’
  • < kwek >     ‘circle'(?)     lúʔlu (?)
  • stuy’ti’     ‘toy hoop’     (lúʔlu híhi-íkta would be ’round toy’)
  • stqé:ye’     ‘wolf’     lílu
  • tux̣wá’c     ‘archery bow’     úpq’ati / úpt’ɬiki / kaláytən-stík
  • ?shélh-s?     ‘(their) road’     úyx̣at 
  • siw’ín’     ‘wordpower’     (t’əmánəwas) 
  • chumux̣     ‘pitch; chewing gum’     lakóm
  • < chummult >     ‘to stick on, glue on'(?)     mamuk-q’wétł
  • snás     ‘fat, lard’     klís
  • < klatlum >     ‘?’     łáx̣ani (?) ‘outside’
  • smé:nt     ‘mountain’     lamətáy
  • < til-til >     ‘??’     ??

With all those preliminaries out of the way, let’s get into MDH’s telling of the finale of her Mink story…

Spaal, cumtux hyou kliminawhit wawau, […]
spá:l’, kə́mtəks-hayu*-t’łəmínxwət [1](,) wáwa,
raven, know-much-lying(,) talk, 

DDR: ‘The raven, who habitually lies, said,”
MDH: ‘The raven, who is a great lawyer and knows well how to tell lies, said:’

[…] “halo mesika memaloost Chee-Chee-Ka, yaka hyas klosh kopa nesika, yaka
“hílu msáyka míməlust chuchí’q’un’, yáka hayas-łush kʰapa nsáyka, yáka
“not you.folks kill mink, he very-good to us, he”
DDR: ‘ “Don’t you folks kill Mink, he’s very good to us, he’ ”
MDH: ‘ “Don’t kill him, for he is useful to us; when we go digging clams, oysters and mussels, he […]’

kwansum wawau kentsum [2], mash killipi, pe nesika iskum lakwitchee, pe
kwánsəm wáwa ?____?, (“)másh-k’ílapay [3](“), pi nsáyka ískam ləkwəchi*, pi
always tell ?tide?, (“)leave-back(“), and we get clam, and
DDR: ‘ “always tells ?the tide?, “Leave backwards”, and we get clams, and” ‘
MDH: ‘[…] orders the tide to keep away, so that it is dry for us to walk on. If you kill him there will be no one left to order the tide water back. If you must punish him, […]’

chetlo-pe toluko. […]
c’hə́t’łə́x̣w pi túləqs*
oyster and mussel.
DDR: ‘ “oysters and mussels.” ‘

Alta Il’kope [sic] yaka opoots, pe mahsh yaka; tillicum wawau, klosh, klosh.
álta łq’úp yaka úputs*, pi másh yáka [4]; tílikam* wáwa, (“)łúsh, łúsh(“).

now cut his tail, and throw.away him [sic]; people say, (“)good, good(“).
DDR: ‘ “(So) then cut his tail, and throw it away”; the people said, “Good, good.” ‘
MDH: ‘[…] cut off his tail. So, after much considering, they agreed to cut off his tail. ‘

Pe yaka te’kope yaka opoots, pe hyou hee-hee pe potlatch okook opoots
pi yáka łq’úp yaka úputs, pi hayu-híhi pi pátłach* úkuk úputs
and he [sic] cut his tail, and much-laugh and give that tail
DDR: ‘And they cut (off) his tail, and made much fun (of him) and gave that tail’
MDH: ‘So the tail was cut off and […]

kopa tenas.
kʰupa tənás.
to child.
DDR: ‘to the children.’

Yaka kow Chee-Chee-Ka opoots kopa klosh kwek [5] pe yaka staadi.
yáka [6] k’áw chuchí’q’un’ úputs kʰupa łúsh ?____?  pi yáka [4] stuy’ti’.

he [sic] tie mink tail in good ?circle? and he [sic] toy.hoop.
DDR: ‘They tied Mink’s tail into a nice ?circle? until it was a toy hoop.’
MDH: ‘[…] tied like a hoop, and given to the children to roll about.’

Konaway stikya tenas coolee pe hee-hee pe pok takwatz opoots.
kʰánawi stqé:ye’ -tənás kúli pi híhi pi pú-tux̣wá’c [7] úputs.

all wolf child run and played and shoot-archery.bow tail.
DDR: ‘All the wolf children ran and played and shot the tail with bow and arrow.’
MDH: ‘What fun they all had out of the tail!’

Chee-Chee-Ka hyou eli [sic] pe coolee kopa yaka chith [sic], wawau, “Nanitch, nika
chuchí’q’un’ hayu-kʰláy pi kúli kʰupa yaka chích, wáwa, “nánich, nayka
mink much-cry and run to his grandmother, say, “look, my(“)
DDR: ‘Mink was crying and ran to his grandmother, saying, “Look, my” ‘
MDH: ‘Poor Cheeche-ka ran away to his grandmother and asked her to see […]’

opoots yaka tsolo; klosh nika hyou tikegh pos mika temanous yaka iskum
úputs yaka [4] t’súlu; łúsh [8] náyka hayu-tqíx̣/tíki(x̣) pus máyka t’əmánəwas yaka [4] ískam Ø [4]
(“)tail he [sic] lost; good I much-want in.order.that your spirit.power he [sic] get it(“)
DDR: ‘ “tail is lost; I should [sic] wish for your spirit power to get it” ‘
MDH: ‘[…] if she could not get back his tail.’

copa nika.”
kʰupa náyka.”
(“)for me.”
DDR: ‘ “for me.” ‘

Klosh Chitsh wawa. Chitsh mamook hyou temanous, pe moxt yaka klatawa (“)łúsh(“,) chích wáwa. chích mámuk háyú t’əmánəwas, pi mákwst yáka [6] łátwa
(“)good(“,) grandmother say. grandmother make much spirit.power, and two he [sic] go
DDR: ‘ “All right,” said the grandmother. The grandmother worked a lot of spirit power, and the two of them went’
MDH: ‘So she called her spirits and told them what she wished. So off she and her grandson went […]’

kopa scholtz, pe nanitch opoots. Konaway tenas mamook poh yaka. Pe
kʰupa ?shélh-s?, pi [9] nánich úputs. kʰánawi tənás mamuk-pú yáka [4]. pi
on road-their, and see tail. all child make-shoot him [sic]. and
DDR: ‘on the path to see the tail. All the children were shooting at it. And’
MDH: ‘[…] to the place where they were shooting arrows at the hoop.’

Chitsh wawau,
chích wáwa(,)
grandmother say(,)
DDR: ‘the grandmother said,’

Seewin hyak chahko okook opoots kopa Chee-Chee-Ka.”
siw’ín’(,) [10] (h)áyáq cháku úkuk úputs kʰupa chuchí’q’un’.”
wordpower(,) quickly come that tail to mink.”
DDR: ‘ “(My) wordpower, (may) that tail quickly come to Mink.” ‘

Pe opoots staadi chahko kopa Chee-Chee-Ka, […]
pi úputs-stuy’ti’ cháku kʰupa chuchí’q’un’

and tail-toy.hoop come to mink.
DDR: ‘And the tail-hoop came to Mink,’
MDH: ‘The spirits rolled the hoop to them, and Chee-che-ka […]’

[… ] yaka hyak iskum hyou chumouck pos chummult yaka opoots pe halo kahta
yáka (h)áyáq ískam háyú chumux̣ pus ?_(cf. chumu)_? [11] yaka úputs pi hílu-qʰáta [12]
he quickly take much pitch in.order.to ?glue? his tail but none-how
DDR: ‘he quickly got a lot of pitch to ?stick? his tail back on but couldn’t’
MDH: ‘[…] seized it and ran off with it to try to stick it on again.’

mamook. Yaka hyou snais Chee-Chee-Ka hyou sollecks pe mash yaka opoots
mámuk. yáka háyú [13] snás(;) chuchí’q’un’ hayu-sáliks pi másh yaka úputs
do. he much fat(;) mink much-angry and throw his tail
DDR: ‘do so. He was too [sic] fat(;) Mink was enraged and threw his tail’
MDH: ‘He put pitch on the end and stack it on; but he was so fat that the tail would not stick on, so he threw it […]’

klatlum [14], pe hyou sick tumtum.
?_<klahanie?>_?, pi hayu-sík-tə́mtəm.
?outside?, and much-upset-heart.

DDR: ‘outside, and was feeling quite upset.’
MDH: ‘[…] away in great disgust.’

Yaka hyou shem, pe klatawa klawhap kopa smand, pe yaka kwass, pe kwansum
yáka háyú shím, pi łátwa Ø [7] łxwáp kʰupa smé:nt[15], pi yáka k’wás, pi kwánsəm [16]
he much shame, and go to hole in mountain, and he afraid, and always
DDR: ‘He was very ashamed, and went off to a hole in a mountain, and he was shy, and from that time on’
MDH: ‘He ran off to the woods and mountains, ashamed to show himself any more to people. He has since then […]’

ipoots halo chahko, til-til. [17]
úputs hílu cháku, ?____?.

tail not come, ?___?.
DDR: ‘the tail never grew (back), ?story-story?.’
MDH: ‘[…] lost the power of becoming a man, and remains a mink.’

Comments on the preceding:

kəmtəks-hayu*-t’łəmínxwət [1] looks exactly like older (“early-creolized”) Fort Vancouver-area Jargon, where kə́mtəks ‘know’ developed into a Habitual verbal aspect marker, and háyú ‘much’ developed into a Progresive/Imperfective marker, making this description of Raven mean ‘habitually telling lies’. 

kentsum [2]perhaps meaning ‘the tide, the seawater’, is on our little list of unsolved puzzles here; I haven’t so far noticed a reasonable Hulq’umin’um’ word to match up with it.

másh-k’ílapay [3] would mean ‘throw back; reject’ to my ears normally; MDH’s use of it as ‘recede, withdraw’ is new to me, and I’m not aware of its occurring anywhere else in the Jargon’s documentation. It’s possible she invented it.

yáka [4]; here is unexpectedly being used for inanimate ‘it’; this reoccurrs in two later sentences, although the normal “null” form Ø also gets used once elsewhere in this story. (See also note 6.) Also notice “łq’úp yaka úputs*, pi másh” where both verbs carry a separative implication: ‘cut off his tail, and threw it away.’

kwek [5] is another Hulq’umin’um’ word that I haven’t managed to track down in the dictionaries.

yáka [6] k’áw — as is characteristic in northern dialects of Jargon, yáka is used as a plural ‘they’ instead of its older singular meaning ‘she; he’. 

pú-tux̣wá’c [7] perhaps should be understood as using a “null” preposition, which would more clearly mean ‘shoot with a bow’. Compare the more obvious null preposition later in the text, in ‘went (to) a hole in a mountain’ — i.e. a cave.

łúsh [8] náyka hayu-tqíx̣/tíki(x̣) — The łúsh makes a Jargon speaker understand this phrase with a modal ‘should’, which feels odd with the verb ‘want’; I give a translation as ‘I wish’ to try to faithfully reflect what MDH is saying, although she may have simply made a mistake in writing this. (Compare note 10.) Also note that I show two different possible pronunciations for her < tikegh >, because with her lower Columbia River influences, honestly come by from her dad James Douglas, she may well have said the word in one of these older-fashioned ways, rather than the common later tíki (“tickey”). 

łátwa kʰupa ?shélh-s?, pi [9] nánich úputs — rare for MDH, but common for many especially northern speakers, is the apparent use of pi ‘and’ as a subordinator synonymous with pus ‘in order to’. From the context in the story that looks like a reasonable interpretation, but it’s totally possible she just meant ‘and saw’ here. 

siw’ín’(,) [10] (h)áyáq cháku úkuk úputs — here the grandmother is evidently addressing her own ‘wordpower’ i.e. her t’əmánəwas that was mentioned. She seems to be requesting for the tail to rush back to Mink, although she unusually doesn’t use łúsh to form a command/request. (Compare note 8.) I call attention here because another view seems possible to me, that Grandmother is just talking the normal way a person would when using ‘wordpower’ — ‘Wordpower! The tail comes right away!’

?_(cf. chumu)_? [11] yaka úputs — here we have a verb almost certainly meaning ‘to stick on, glue on’, and related to the Salish word for ‘pitch’, but I haven’t found it in my Hulq’umin’um’ dictionaries.

hílu-qʰáta [12] (literally ‘none-how’)is a good old expression for ‘cannot’, tracing back to lower Columbia River days, although it’s much more common in the form wík-qʰáta ‘not-how’. 

yáka háyú [13] snás, ‘He was too [sic] fat’, deserves some comment. In most varieties of Chinook Jargon it’s quite hard to find a word for ‘too (much)’. Beyond that dictionary-oriented comment, I can teach you the workaround that speakers use. It’s normal and fluent to just imply excessive degree, as MDH does here: the tail wouldn’t stay stuck back on, because Mink was so very fat and greasy. Also note: to say a person or an animal is fat in Jargon, it’s usual to comment that they ‘are’ or ‘have’ or are ‘full of’ grease, a noun, unlike the English-language adjective.

klatlum [14], another Hulq’umin’um’ word that I’ve not yet found in a dictionary.

łxwáp kʰupa smé:nt [15] ‘hole in a mountain’ seems to me a good way to say ‘cave’; what’s your impression?

kwánsəm [16] úputs hílu cháku — I’m glad this example came up, as it shows the fluent way to express a concept I’ve seen learners struggle with: ‘never’. Unlike southern dialects (which allow you the expression wik-qʰánchi(x̣) ‘not-when’), northern dialects typically say kwánsəm(…)hílu ‘always not’.

til-til. [17] Is this a traditional Salish way to end a story? It’s not Chinuk Wawa.

Summary of the preceding & of the whole text:

As we’ve consistently found throughout the Mink story, Martha Douglas Harris’s Chinook Jargon is fluent and it sounds influenced by Fort Vancouver’s style of speaking. This seems to reflect her having learned it from her illustrious and historically important father, James Douglas of the Hudsons Bay Company. We find a lot of history in one family — and in one story they told!

What do you think?