1899: Taking a “clatawa kopa Spokane”, and other things Whites did to the Jargon

ritzville spokane

(Image credit: BestPlaces)

Why was a Ritzville lawyer reported as taking ‘a clatawa copa Spokane’?The comings & goings of D.H. Hartson, who earlier also practiced law in Mount Vernon, Washington and later in Portland, Oregon, is reported on the social page of a post-frontier Eastern Washington newspaper.

Chinook Jargon is used — untranslated, showing that local readers still had a decent knowledge of the language:

took a clatawa

Attorney Hartson took a clatawa copa [trip to] Spokane Monday.

— from the Ritzville (WA) Adams County News of March 22, 1899, page 3, column 2

Was Hartson known for his Chinooking? Maybe due to his having come from the west side of the state, which is the original homeland of this language?

I don’t know.

What I do know is, it’s funny that < clatawa > isn’t a noun in Chinook! It’s only a verb, ‘to go’.

But when late- and post-frontier English took various common words of CJ in, it had a tendency to make them be nouns.

I’ve written before that I think < potlatch > is one such; Settlers mutated it from ‘to give’ into ‘a gift’.

< Cooley > is another. Meaning ‘to run; to travel’ in Chinuk Wawa, it became ‘a jaunt; a trip’, etc. in Settler English.

Correspondingly, the Adverb + Verb phrase < cultus cooley > ‘idly travel’ became local English ‘a wander, a meander, a stroll’.

Then there’s the phrase < close nanich >; in Jargon it was (and is) ‘to carefully look’, and this among the White folks became nominalized as ‘a good look’ and, due to folk etymology tendencies to take Jargon words as if they were English, also ‘a close look’.

What do you think?