“Cultus kopa nika” is a northern CW expression
A pretty famous expression in Chinook Jargon is ‘I don’t care’, commonly spelled < cultus kopa nika > in the old, English-speaker-oriented publications.
That’d be kʰə́ltəs kʰapa nayka (literally ‘it’s worthless/unimportant to me’, using the fluent CW “silent it” pronoun) in Grand Ronde-style southern CW dialect…
…if it existed there!
I checked in the 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary, which you seriously need to order online right now if you don’t yet have a copy.
This expression isn’t in there. Kind of surprising to me.
We know this phrase from any number of northern-dialect sources, such as the “Pit’s Winter” cartoon and a ton of CW “pop” songs composed by Indians.
But the only connection I find with the southern dialect is this phrase’s perhaps earliest known occurrence in George Gibbs’s 1863 dictionary of Fort Vancouver-area CW.
No matter what spelling variants I search on, all other occurrences turning up for me are farther north in Washington, and in BC.
Maybe Gibbs himself heard it north of Fort Vancouver, e.g. in the Cowlitz or Nisqually areas where CW had already taken hold.
Shall we add ‘I don’t care’ to the list of unique northern CW characteristics?