Another CW burial term rediscovered

I’ve written several articles on this site showing that there were widely known phrases in Chinuk Wawa relating to burial of the dead, not all of which have been documented in CW dictionaries.


míməlus k’ʷəním (image credit:

For example,

  • I’ve told you about ‘burial place’, miməlus(t)-íliʔi / < memaloose illahee > (‘dead.person-place’)…
  • …and found ‘burial island’, miməlus(t)-tənəs-íliʔi / < memaloose tenas illahee > (‘dead.person-little-place’)…
  • …and discovered ‘burial house’, míməlus(t)-háws / < memaloose house > (‘dead.person-house’)…
  • …and today I can add ‘burial canoe’, míməlus(t)-kəním / < memaloose canim > (‘dead.person-canoe’). 

Our evidence resides, as we sometimes find, not within documentatino of Chinuk Wawa, but in remnants of it preserved as loans in other languages.

Specifically, in Hutyéyu (Tillamook Coast Salish).

There, as documented by the great Pacific NW linguists Terry and Lawrence Thompson, we find míməlus k’ʷəním ‘burial canoe’. 

That’s recognizably Chinook Jargon, although ‘canoe’ got somewhat distorted in the passage of time.

I wonder how the original plain “k” of kəním got ejectivized (“popping”); could this relate to Tillamooks’ impressions of the sound-symbolic consonant mutations in the speech of their longtime neighbors the Clatsop / Shoalwater Chinookans? 

(Also, Hutyéyu does some interesting things with lip-rounding, which may help explain how an original plain “k” became .)

This phrase found, while an elder was answering a researcher’s questions about a Salish language, is 100% grammatical Chinuk Wawa, a normal Noun+Noun compound, where the first member semantically modifies the second one. 

Any native Hutyéyu term for any type of canoe would be expected to be a single word, using the suffix -ékɬ / -íkɬ / -egíɬ ‘canoe’. An example of such a word known in the language is s-t’ən-íkɬ ‘burned canoe’ (scorching is part of the usual process of carving one).

I will write up a separate post about other CW found during Tillamook research.

PS: hayu masi kʰapa chup henli Zenk for assistance rendered!

PPS: It’s my understanding that someone still needs to put together a complete modern dictionary and grammar of Hutyéyu. Know a grad student?

What do you think?