Gill’s earliest Lord’s Prayer (1884)

Among the very earliest occurrences of the Chinuk Wawa Lord’s Prayer in print is this from an 1884 Oregon newspaper.

It’s not credited in that publication, but it’s the same version that wound up published in numerous editions of Portland publisher and stationer JK Gill’s Jargon dictionary.

I’ll add in some explanatory material below, since no translation or commentary is supplied.

1884 gill

The Lord’s Prayer in Chinook.

Nesika papa klaxta mitlite kopa sahale,
nsáyka pápá[,] łáksta [1] mí(t)łayt kʰupa sáx̣ali, 

our father[,] someone be.there in above, 
DDR: ‘Our father, who is someone living in the sky,’

kloshe kopa nesika tumtum mika nem;
(t)łúsh kʰupa nsayka tə́mtəm mayka ném;
good to our heart your name;
DDR: ‘your name is good to our hearts;’

kloshe mika tyee kopa konaway tilakum;
(t)łúsh mayka táyí kʰupa kʰánawi tílikam;
good you chief to all people;
DDR: ‘you should be a chief to everyone;’

kloshe mika tumtum kopa illahe kahkwa
(t)łúsh mayka tə́mtəm kʰupa ílihi kákwa [2]
good your heart in land as
DDR: ‘your heart should be on the ground as’

kopa sahale; potlatch konaway sun nesika
kʰupa sáx̣ali; pá(t)łach kʰánawi-sán nsayka
in above; give every-day our
DDR: ‘(it is) in the air; give every day our’

muckmuck, pie kopet-kumtuks konaway
mə́kʰmək, pi kəpit-kə́mtəks kʰánawi
food, and stop-remember all
DDR: ‘food, and forget all’

nesika mesache, kahkwa, nesika mamook
nsayka masáchi, kákwa nsayka mámuk
our evil.thing, as we do
DDR: ‘of our misdeeds*, like we do’

kopa klaska spose mamook mesahche
kʰupa (t)łáska spus mamuk-masáchi [3]
to them if/when make-evil.thing
DDR: ‘to them [sic] if doing wrong [sic]’

kopa nesika; marsh siah kopa nesika
kʰupa nsáyka; másh-sáyá kʰupa nsáyka
to us; throw-far from us
DDR: ‘to us; throw away from us’

konaway mesahche. Kloshe kahkwa.
kʰánawi masáchi. (t)łúsh kákwa. 
all evil.thing. good so.
DDR: ‘all misdeeds. Let it be so.’

— from the Astoria (OR) Daily Morning Astorian of May 25, 1884, page 3, column 1

Comments on the above:

nsáyka pápá[,] łáksta [1] mí(t)łayt kʰupa sáx̣ali — The word łáksta asks ‘who?’; otherwise it states the existence of ‘someone’. The translator, who I assure you was a White English-speaker, here tries to make łáksta mean the ‘who’ that forms Relative Clauses … in English. The word does not have that possible function in Chinuk Wawa. Following my principle of giving the best, most charitable possible translation to any CW that I come across, I translate this line as ‘Our father, who is someone living in the sky.’
Take note, sáx̣ali here (and in a later line) is used as a noun for ‘sky; heaven’, which is a very old sense of the word in the early-creolized lower Columbia River dialect (e.g. Demers et al. 1871 [1838-ish data]). I mention that usage because it happens to not be noted super clearly in the Grand Ronde 2012 dictionary. 

(t)łúsh mayka tə́mtəm kʰupa ílihi kákwa [2] — Here again I’m forced to make a charitable choice about showing the meaning of the Chinook Jargon wording. The previous two lines say clearly:

‘your name is good to our hearts;
you should be a chief to everyone’

This next line, also starting with (t)łúsh, might be taken like the ‘your name’ line (so ‘your heart is good on the ground’). But because the nearest preceding line uses the other meaning of (t)łúsh (to form an Imperative/Hortative), I parallel that structure by translating it as ‘your heart should be on the ground.’ That may not be a sensible thought, but then again, is the alternative any better?

…kʰupa (t)łáska spus mamuk-masáchi [3] — Here I’d guess that the translator confused (A)(t)łáska ‘they’ (which in Chinuk Wawa can also be the indefinite ‘they’ as in ‘they say…’) and (B) (t)łáksta ‘who?; someone’. That’s not the only difficulty with this line, though. It ends in a tenseless verb phrase ‘if/when doing wrong’ or ‘in order to do wrong’. Forced to choose one of those unsatisfactory readings, I’ve again strived for the least bad one.

Summary of the above:

This translation is really good Chinook Jargon, but it suffers from the problems that get introduced when you try to make your CJ be like an existing English model text.

A substantial scholarly study can be written on the history and linguistics of the many versions of this prayer in Jargon. Who’s up for doing that?

Here’s a point that will be worth exploring in such research — It used to be customary, from North American colonial days of the 1700s, for kids to learn the alphabet from a “horn book”, and horn books typically included the Lord’s Prayer as it was seen fit to be the first text kids should read. Thus its inclusion, I reckon, in so many 1800s guidebooks to Eastern North American Native languages (earlier) and to Chinuk Wawa (later).

What do you think?