2 generations apart, in 2 dialects

The summary first today: there are special words for that, but only in creolized Chinuk Wawa.


(Image credit: Pinterest)

Words for the 2nd generation senior to you are gendered in southern CW:

  • chích ‘grandmother’, as well as chíchi & chícha ‘grandma’
  • chúp ‘grandfather’, and chúpi ‘grandpa’
  • (and one Grand Ronde speaker said chúp-chup for ‘great-grandfather’, which will inspire me to say more below)

The word for the 2nd generation junior to you is non-gendered in that dialect:  

  • kʰwiʔím ‘grandchild’

All of the above are from Salish — this is very definite, as all three trace back to ancient Proto-Salish — and this once again goes to show you the fundamental importance of that group of tribal languages to the history of CW. 

Mighty interesting to realize that the ‘grandparent / grandchild’ terms in the Jargon are from Native languages. The creole households typically contained a European-ancestry parent, so that you’d more likely hear the word papa than any Indigenous word for him. And any grandparents that a creole kid interacted with would be, in the Fort Vancouver days that were such a crucial era in CW’s development, Indigenous folks talking an Indigenous language such as Salish. 

Just to reiterate, these 3 are southern-CW words. 

The northern dialect is newer, as it came into being when folks rushed north with the already-existing Jargon in search of gold and suchlike dreams, about half a century later than our earliest known occurrences of CW. Every one of those folks was a grandchild, but they “forgot” the CW words you see above. 

It’s extremely rare to find any convincing trace of these 3 lexical items in northern CW. By saying that, I mean that you can still find them in published dictionaries, but few of those were devoted to accurately documenting northern speech. From all evidence, one thing we can clearly see about the northern lexicon is that it was smaller than the southern one. Lots of words that had existed down south went by the wayside as folks took this language to new places in such a big hurry. 

This is not to claim that you could no longer express ‘grandma’, etc., in northern Chinuk Wawa, though. Quite the contrary: you could resort to the tried and true CW strategy of using more than one word, describing what you meant to say. And so the following would serve you just fine: 

  • mama yaka mama / papa yaka mama ‘grandmother’ (literally ‘mother’s/father’s mother’)
  • mama yaka papa / papa yaka papa ‘grandfather’ (lit. ‘mother’s/father’s father’)
  • tenás yaka tenás ‘grandchild’ (lit. ‘child’s child’)

In effect, then, you’d be defining kin relations pretty much the same way that anthropologists do 😀 

This small section of the vocabulary is just one of many instances where northern CW needs more words to say something that southern speakers can put into one word. Another example would be southern úmaʔ ‘to feed (someone)’ vs. northern patlach mə́kʰmək kʰupa ɬaksta ‘give food to someone’.

What do you think?