Heard in the wild: “chucks”
UBC forestry professor Suzanne Simard, author of the book “Finding the Mother Tree”, dropped some Chinuk Wawa into her interview with Dave Davies on NPR’s “Fresh Air” program this week.
(Image credit: NPR)
At 3:24 in the interview, she talks about
…the Shuswap River, which had a, had a, “chucks” in them, and the Skookum Chuck Narrows, and it was very dangerous…
All of this goes unexplained in the interview, so you kinda hafta know some Jargon to really get it.
And this is great stuff, as Simard grew up in the Shuswap and Lillooet area, Mabel Lake (south of Malakwa) being mentioned prominently. She comes from generations of loggers in that part of BC, and she says “Shoosh-wop” like a local, to rhyme with “bush-mop”. This matches the BC Chinook-Peipa spelling of it, < Shushwap >.
This was heavy Chinuk Wawa-speaking country until maybe the 1920s or 1930s.
So my interest is piqued when she refers to “chucks” in the plural. Is that a local Canadianism? “Chuck” means ‘water’ or ‘stream’; does Simard mean it as ‘rapids’, as if short for “skookumchucks”? I haven’t seen this usage in the main existing reference work, Stefan Dollinger’s 2nd edition of the Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles.
Here’s where I learn that there’s indeed a Skookumchuck Rapids Provincial Park near the outlet of Mabel Lake!
Neat to hear the Jargon in a major nationwide radio show!
My family is from right near Shuswap Lake and I always find when people say “shoos-wap” really jarring hahaha. We always say “shoosh-wap”. My great Grandma was born ~1890s settled there 1908 and lived till the early 2000s. She had stories of local Indigenous women coming onto their farm to trade baskets they had woven or other things they had made. Now that you say that there was lots of Chinuk Wawa till the 30s even, it makes me think that those interactions could likely have had some wawa mixed in if not wholly in Chinook. Unfortunately I was very young so I never got to ask her questions about things like that and I doubt she would have remembered much at that point anyway.
That said, I’ve personally never heard anyone refer to rapids near there as “chucks” or “skookumchucks” generally though. I’ll have to ask some of my family if they’ve heard that.
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