“Trik” gets trickier, or, more ticklish, or, beats me :)

Another occurrence of a mysterious word has been found; is BC Salish involved?

And it’s making me feel even more doubtful.

trik 2

This occurrence of a word I’ve previously read as < trik > in BC’s Chinuk Pipa shows up in the following list of directives from God:

Wik maika kapshwala kluchmin;
‘Don’t steal women;’

Wik maika mimlus klaksta man;
‘Don’t kill any man;’

Wik maika kapshwala iktas;
‘Don’t steal property;’

Wik maika tliminuit;
‘Don’t tell lies;’ 

Wik maika trik* hloima tilikom klaska iktas:
‘Don’t ____ strangers’ property;’ 

Kanawi ukuk mitlait kopa ukuk wawa:
‘All of this is present in this saying:’ 

Tlus maika tiki maika tilikom kakwa maika.
‘Love your people like yourself.’

— from the “Chinook Book of Devotions throughout the Year” (1902), page 58

I’ve previously found it plausible to translate this < trik* > as ”cheat; trick someone out of something” (it was used in a hymn that admonishes King Herod ‘God won’t trick you out of your possessions’). That reading looks OK here as well.

But … the optics are wrong!

Seeing this word in a second location in the book, and getting a good clear look at it, I’m feeling more sure than ever that it didn’t sound so much like trik! Instead, as noted in my previous article, it looks to be < trih > or < tlih >.

Could it be that Father Le Jeune, who wrote the “Book of Devotions”, interpreted the good old lower Columbia River Chinuk Wawa word < tliի > (Demers et al. 1871), < tliĥ > (St Onge ms. 1892), łíx(-łix) (Grand Ronde 2012), meaning something like ‘itch; tickle’, as a version of ‘trick’?

That would explain his spelling using an “R” and an “H”.

That would be a finding of real interest, as it would further back up the ample evidence I’ve found that links BC Chinuk Wawa with the earlier lower Columbia (early-creolized) variety.

But here’s yet another possibility: we sometimes find nice BC Salish loanwords in Kamloops-area Chinuk Wawa. (<Huhulitin> ‘musical instrument’ is a favorite of mine.) Could < tlih > reflect e.g. Thompson Salish ƛ̓éx- (a Grand Ronde-style spelling would be t’łéx-)’joke’ (and ‘joking’)?

The neat thing there is that that root doesn’t occur on its own in Thompson; instead we find inflected forms, ʔəs-ƛ̓ə́x ‘amusing (etc.)’, ƛ̓ə́x-e-s ‘make light of something (etc.)’, ƛ̓éx-ix ‘joke, jest, say or do in fun’. So it would seem as if we yet again have evidence that BC Salish got pidginized — simplified and made different from native-speaker usage — in contact with White newcomers in the 1800s. That’s one of my original discoveries that helps tell the story of Chinuk Wawa in British Columbia.

The same observations would apply if the source of our BC CW < tlih > is, say, Secwepemctsín or St’át’imcets t’xʷ- ‘to beat in (a) game’ (going back to Proto-Salish).

PS: I’m trying to figure out the details of the new editing interface in this blog. It’s suddenly trickier to make text be the color I want…

What do you think?