LBDB: Prose, not lyrics (Part 6)

Grace before Meals…our last installment from her dictionary.

I’ll remind my readers that LBDB called Chinook Jargon by her own name for it, “Intertribal”, and English had its own LBDB name too, “American”.


wáwa kʰupa sáx̣ali-táyí pi [1]
talk to above-chief and 

‘Talk(ing) to God for*’

pá(t)łach mə́kʰmək
give food.
‘giving food.’

Nesika mahse kopa mika, nesika Sah-ah-lie Pa-pa, pee okoke muck-a-muck mika
nsayka mási [2] kʰupa máyka, nsáyka sáx̣ali-pápá, pi úkuk mə́kʰmək mayka
we “thanks” to you, our above-father, and this food you
‘We are thankful* to you, our father above, and this food that you’

potlatch okoke sun. Pee keh-wa mika mamook skookum nika tumtum pee
pá(t)łach úkuk sán. pi qʰíwa mayka mamuk-skúkum nayka tə́mtəm pi [1]
give this day, and because you make-strong my heart and
‘are giving today. And because you strengthen my spirit to*’

mamook kahkwa mika tikegh, nika tumtum delate mah-se kopa mika.
mámuk kákwa mayka tíki(x̣), nayka tə́mtəm dlét mási [2] kʰupa máyka.
do the.way you want, my heart really “thanks” to you.
‘do as you want, my heart is really thankful* to you.’

— Kloash Kah-kwa.
— (t)łúsh kákwa. [3]
— good like.that.

‘– It’s good this way.’


grace english


We thank thee, our heavenly Father for the food thou has given us this day, and because thou hast given us strong hearts to do thy will, our hearts are truly thankful to thee. — Amen.


We see a typical LBDB-ism, which might be authentic pioneer Jargon, when she uses pi ‘and’ the way other folks use pus/spos, i.e. to signal a cause or a purpose: 

  • wáwa kʰupa sáx̣ali-táyí pi [1] pá(t)łach mə́kʰmək
    (‘talk(ing) to God because of [his] giving food’)
  • mayka mamuk-skúkum nayka tə́mtəm pi [1] mámuk kákwa mayka tíki(x̣)
    ‘you strengthen my heart to do as you wish’

We have two examples of another trait that’s unique to LBDB as far I’m aware, the use of masi as an adjective ‘thankful’ instead of the interjection that I’ve found it to be in all dialects of Jargon: 

  • nsayka mási [2] kʰupa máyka ‘we are thankful to you’
  • nayka tə́mtəm dlét mási [2] kʰupa máyka ‘my heart is really thankful to you’

(t)łúsh kákwa [3] — ‘It’s good this way / let it be so’ is the usual way to say ‘amen’ in Chinuk Wawa all over the Pacific Northwest.  

Summary of the above:

LBDB’s grace would be fully understandable to virtually any fluent listener, but as with other things she wrote, there are quirks that suggest she had not actively spoken the language for many years.

What do you think?