Pre-1924: Another CW “so help me God”

deshawillo(Image credit: “The Siwash”, page 22)

These keep turning up!

ena

Ena (CW ína?) Mae DeShaw Thompson, daughter of the interpreter, great-granddaughter of Chief Seattle (image credit: Findagrave)

Texas-born early Puget Sound pioneer William DeShaw (1834-1900), whose papers are in a Washington State archive (I haven’t yet examined them), came up with this Chinuk Wawa translation of the customary courtroom pledge to tell the truth to the judge:

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deshaw2

It was not difficult for people to soon learn enough of the few words necessary for bartering or dealing with the Indians, and the general drift of short conversations could 
be understood where the jargon was interspersed with English words on the part of the white person and by a few “delate Siwash” [dlét sáwásh] (straight Indian) words on the part of the Indian, accompanied by signs and gestures; but where clear understanding or more precision was necessary, like testimony in the trial of criminal and other cases in courts, a more thorough knowledge of the language and ingenuity in constructing sentences was required. For instance, it was somewhat difficult for the ordinary court interpreter to frame an oath to be administered to witnesses that would be impressive and follow as near as possible the usual English form. William DeShaw, a storekeeper at Point Agate, near the Port Madison Indian reservation, and whose wife was a granddaughter of Chief Seattle, when acting as interpreter, administered a very satisfactory and impressive form, as follows:

Ul-tah kloshe mi-kah waw-waw de-late kon-a-way mi-kah kum-tuks waw-waw de-late spose Sok-a-ly Ty-ee nan-itch mi-kah. Kloshe mahm-uk sok-a-ly mi-kah kloshe le-mah pe waw-waw kah-kwa: Ni-kah kow ni-kah tum-yum ko-pah Sok-a-ly Ty-ee pe ni-kah waw-waw de-late; kon-a-way de-late waw-waw; ko-pet de-late waw-waw. Sok-a-ly Ty-ee nanitch. [See below for an examination of this — DDR]

Translation: Now you must tell all you know truly as if speaking to God. Raise your right hand and say these words: I bind my heart to God; I will speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. God witness.

Owing to the limited vocabulary of jargon one word had to have several meanings according to the subject matter, and to express an English word in Chinook it was often necessary to use several Chinook words.

— from pages 667-668 of “Seattle and Environs, 1852-1924” by Cornelius Holgate Hanford (Chicago, IL: Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. 1924),

…which also contains a good, previously unknown CW vocabulary that I’ll present separately.

About that oath, though:

Ul-tah kloshe mi-kah waw-waw de-late kon-a-way mi-kah kum-tuks waw-waw(,) de-late spose
álta ɬúsh mayka wáwa dlét kʰánawi mayka kə́mtəks wáwa(,) dlét spus
now good you say really all you know say(,) really if
‘Now you should tell for real all that you know how to say(,) really if [SIC]’ 

Sok-a-ly Ty-ee nan-itch mi-kah. Kloshe mahm-uk sok-a-ly mi-kah kloshe le-mah pe
sáx̣ali-táyí nánich mayka. ɬúsh mámuk-sáx̣ali mayka ɬúsh límá pi
above-chief see you. good make-high your good hand and
‘God sees you. (You) should raise your right hand and’

waw-waw kah-kwa: Ni-kah kow ni-kah tum-yum ko-pah Sok-a-ly Ty-ee pe ni-kah
wáwa kákwa: nayka k’áw nayka tə́mtəm kʰupa sáx̣ali-táyí pi nayka
say like.this: I be.tied my heart to above-chief and I
‘repeat this: “Me, my heart is tied to God and I’

waw-waw de-late; kon-a-way de-late waw-waw; ko-pet de-late waw-waw. Sok-a-ly Ty-ee nanitch.
wáwa dlét; kʰánawi dlét wáwa; kʰəpít dlét wáwa. sáx̣ali-táyí nánich.
talk straight; all straight talk; only straight talk. above-chief watch.
‘am talking straight; it’s all straight talk; only straight talk. God is watching.” ‘ 

You can see that the actual meaning of the CW oath is slightly different from what’s given in fluent English. Unlike other courtroom oaths that we’ve seen here, though, this one sincerely tries hard to communicate the intent of the original English phrasing. And it’s understandable, fluent CW, all things considered. Possibly DeShaw originally said the expected “kah-kwa spose” (‘as if’) in the first line, and “mahm-uk kow” (‘make-tied’) in the third line; perhaps Hanford wrote it down imperfectly from his dictation.

What do you think?