“I don’t know, some American.”

all white people look alike

(Image credit: Brian Woodbury on Bandcamp; if you have 20 minutes, go listen to this epic tune)

Lovely fragments of good Chinuk Wawa from Vancouver Island Salish people:

Speaking Jargon with “Saanech” (W̱SÁNEĆ, Saanich) people of the Victoria, BC area:

i dont know b

page 109

I gave Tsilian abundance of greetings (klahowya[łax̣áwya ‘hello’] to give from me to the two other chiefs, Mukmukatan and Talagoum, and some medicine for his mother-in-law, who he told me was sick, and we parted very cordially.

Social commentary by a local man, showing that some local SENĆOŦEN (Saanich) Salish words were used in the area’s Chinuk Wawa:

i dont know c

that man

page 110

It took about two hours’ hard work, and I certainly never saw a man work more energetically and cheerfully, and with more perseverance, than that poor Indian did to get us out of our difficulty. We got her over at last, and after proceeding about half a mile met a boat on her way down towards the rapids. I took no notice of her at the time, but about a quarter of an hour afterwards, the Indian, who, by the bye, was in general a very quiet, mild-spoken man, said in a tone of most intense hatred, ‘Okook man wake komtax kumauson hiu mash kanim keekwoolly, memeloos man.[úkuk mán wík kə́mtəks _____ hayu-másh kəním kíkwəli, míməlus mán][1]Something like, in English, ‘ That man doesn’t understand the rapids, his canoe is all broken and sunk deep down, and he is killed.’ I asked in surprise who the man was, and he said, ‘Klonass ikt Boston man[t’łúnás-íxt bástən-mán][2] (‘ I don’t know, some American ’); and then he went on muttering to himself, as if fairly gloating over it, ‘Mash kanim hias keekwoolly memeloos man.[másh kəním hayas-kíkwəli(,) míməlus mán]

Here’s the first of those sentences; I’d ask you to notice (A) the seeming Salish word for ‘rapids’ (but I haven’t yet found it in my brand-new dictionary of the language), (B) the common northern-dialect ambiguity between an Intensifier use and a Progressive Verbal Aspect (“-ing”) use of hayu, and (C) the “silent it/they” inanimate subject of ‘kill people’:

[1] Okook man wake komtax kumauson hiu mash kanim keekwoolly, 
      [úkuk mán wík kə́mtəks _____ háyú másh kəním kíkwəli,
      that man not know _rapids*_ much throw canoe down,
DDR: ‘That man doesn’t realize that the rapids* really knock canoes down’
Dowson: ‘That man doesn’t understand the rapids, his canoe is all broken and sunk            deep down,’  

       memeloos man.
(Ø) míməlus mán]
(it) kill man
DDR: ‘they kill people.’
Dowson: ‘and he is killed.’

And here’s the second CW sentence to look at in detail, with its highly fluent t’łúnás-íxt for ‘who-knows-which-one’:

[2]Klonass ikt Boston man
      [t’łúnás-íxt bástən-mán]
maybe-one.certain American-man
DDR: ‘Who-knows-which American.’
Dowson: ‘I don’t know, some American.’

Dealing with rumours spread by competing groups of white folks:

i dont know

page 112

Some time since a person who is pretty well acquainted with Indians, having been upon the Island some time, told me that the Indians told him that the Jesuit priests here (who are Frenchmen) had told the Indians that the reason of the English men-of-war being here was to kill all the Indians. I scarcely believed it, and thought it must be some mistake. Shortly afterwards be appealed to some Indians who came to his door (where we were standing) and asked them if it was not so. They said, ‘Nowitka[nawítka] (‘ yes ’) ; but still I did not think much of it, knowing how the Indians nearly always say ‘ yes ’ to anything you ask them. However, a few days since I was standing doing something near to the Indian whom I have with me now, when he said, ‘Are there more men-of-war coming here?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘And a great many English soldiers?’ I told him, ‘I don’t know; I don’t think a great many, but some ;’ and then he told me how ‘Pesioux leplate quansum wawa sowash,’ &c. [pasáyuks liplét kwánsəm wáwa sáwásh …] [3] ‘ The French priest was always telling the Indians that there were a great many English soldiers coming here to kill all the Indians,’ and this tale he repeated and adhered to over and over again. Whether it be true or not, I cannot say, but these are the simple facts. I have not told it to the people here, for one party would only perhaps assign it to a fertile imagination, and a certain amount of odium theologicum, which is a feeling I am not much given to indulging in. And others, perhaps, without stopping to inquire into the truth of the matter, would immediately raise a hue and cry against the French priests, and quote me as their authority. But when you think of the proximity of the Russian territory on the one side of us and the Americans on the other ; that the priests are foreigners (Frenchmen), and of the rumours of wars we hear on every side; and when we think how much, in case of any war, it would embarrass us in this part of the world to have all the Indian population alienated from us, and arrayed against us, it seems just possible that there may be something in it, though God forbid that we should lightly suspect any one of making what he at any rate looks upon as the advancement of true religion, a cloak for such designs. Of course I told him that it was not true, and that the great English Chief’s heart was very good to the Indians, and he answered as usual, ‘Nowitka.’ [nawítka ‘yes; indeed’]

[3] Pesioux leplate quansum wawa sowash,’ &c.
      [pasáyuks liplét kwánsəm wáwa sáwásh …]
DDR: ‘The French priest was always telling the Indians (that)…’
Dowson: ‘The French priest was always telling the Indians that…’

— all from a letter from Rev. Richard Dowson (1827-1876) of December 29, 1859, published in The Mission Field of May 1, 1860

Another letter by Dowson (July 25, 1859) that may be of interest once we get a copy of it from the archive.

What do you think?