“Haul” as a Métis/Canadian word, too

We understand Chinuk Wawa’s word hál ‘to pull’ as coming from English ‘haul’.


“City Dray” (image credit: Pinterest)

Some have pointed out that a particular source might be the specialized nautical English of the sailors aboard maritime fur-trade vessels in the earliest days of contact with Chinookans.

“Haul sail” and “haul yards” come to mind.

The nautical etymology may be sound (so to speak) — CW hál may be of old enough vintage to have come in during that era, along with plenty of Nootka Jargon words. 

But I’ve been noticing another factor: the speech of the Canadian and/or Métis people who were the majority of the land-based fur trade workforce, and who were the majority of the dads in households where creole CW took form around Fort Vancouver.

  • The St Laurent (Manitoba) Michif French dictionary (2016) contains ‘drag (to)’ < awli > and ‘pull’ < awl >. The spelling “aw” there stands for /a/ as in modern English “ma” or “pa”. I take < awli > as the English loan ‘haul’ + French infinitive -er.
  • Allard and Laverdure’s (1983) Turtle Mountain (North Dakota) Michif dictionary defines ‘dray’ as en wawginn for pour kaykiyuw kaykwuy ay-li hauleehk — not all of which I can interpret, but it looks to be something like ‘a strong wagon for everything to be hauled’. (Compare French une waguine fort(e) pour…; Kahkiyuw kaykwuy would be ‘everything’; ay-li seems to form subordinate clauses.)
  • Geddes’s description of an Acadian French dialect shows (page 237) a verb /hɔ:l/ of English and/or French origin.

Might “haul” have already been part of these people’s famously mixed speech by CW times? I’d think so; haler appears to be quite an old Norman-French word.

The earliest occurrences of CW hál that I find are in fact from the Fort Vancouver era, in Palmer 1847 and Lionnet 1853.

So, Métis speech may have influenced the history of this word in Jargon.

What do you think?