El Comancho’s Washington, DC newspaper column on Chinook Jargon (2 of 6)

I haven’t been able to track down all of the published installments, but here’s another of El Comancho’s sorta Jargon-for-kids column…

The writer’s gift for gab shines through, sometimes at the expense of reality. I’ll have a couple of comments after you read today’s column.



— from the Washington (DC) Evening Star of July 8, 1928, page 7, column 8


To use < kok-shut > for such a mild meaning as ‘scattered’ is way off base from my experience of actual Chinuk Wawa usage. This word really means at least ‘hit’ and usually ‘smash(ed), ruin(ed), etc.’

< Kwonesum halo > for ‘never’ is very creative, and it’ll probably be understood in context if you say it. But Comancho’s < kwonesum halo muckamuck > sounds more like ‘there’s always no food’. And there are other, clearer ways to express ‘never’, such as (I’m guessing a Comancho spelling) < wake konce > (wík-qʰə́nchi).

“Afraid I (am) if (we) go…” strikes me oddly; if any pronoun needs to be understood in the second part of that phrase, I feel it’s “I”.

Comancho’s < bebe > for ‘baby’ is not to be found in many other old sources, but it actually sounds believable for the late-frontier times when he learned Jargon. It’s possible, though, that he was crossing mental wires with the better-known Jargon bibi ‘to kiss’ — stereotypically we smooch infants a lot!

What do you think?