Why is shouting so new in Chinuk Wawa?

Chinuk Wawa kʰriyé / kʰrí, a synonym of (i)láy, means ‘to yell, holler, shout’.


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(Image credit: Briar Patch magazine)

It’s obviously Canadian/métis French-looking; compare crier in that language.

kʰriyé / kʰrí might, like other French-to-CW words, come from commands, criez!/cri!. I wonder about deriving it from a negative ‘don’t shout at me!’… Read on.

I think kʰriyé / kʰrí is a newer word for ‘cry, weep’ in the Jargon. I don’t seem to find’ it in any dictionaries of CW published before the 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes one.

Matter of fact, it seems not to be documented until Grand Ronde times, somewhere later than 1855.

What also strikes me is that the GR synonym hála ‘shout’ (from English ‘holler’) is of similar vintage.

The only way of expressing yelling in earlier times and other places was the Indigenous-language-derived skúkum wáwa, literally ‘to talk strongly’ — which also means things like ‘to boast’.

We linguists find it rewarding to assume that there’s usually some good reason motivating any change in a language.

Why would Chinook Jargon have lacked a specific word for ‘shouting’, until the Reservation era?

My hypothesis is that shouting isn’t something you often do to strangers who you’re talking Jargon with. Shouting in the stereotyped setting of a fur-trade post would get you kicked out and sometimes beaten up.

You’re more likely to holler at people you have enough contact with to develop some tensions.

On the GR reservation, folks from a large number of ethnic groups were suddenly shoved into close proximity with each other.

We’re told that there were various ethnic fault lines on the Grand Ronde reservation, e.g. the southern Oregon tribes versus the northern ones.

A number of insult-words in Chinuk Wawa seem to date to such a time and environment, for example the GR CW ethnic insults t’ilímuksh and k’alapúya.

So there you have a sketch of one researcher’s thinking about the evolution of vocabulary for verbal conflict in the Jargon.

qʰáta mayka tə́mtəm?
What do you think?

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