1865: Olympia store ad in Chinook

Frontier-era clothiers in Olympia, Washington couldn’t go wrong by using Chinook Jargon to draw attention to their wares!


A very snappy-looking Louis Bettman  (image credit: Olympia History)

I’m in love with the odd spellings used here, because such a trait is the hallmark of someone writing Chinuk Wawa the way they personally speak it, without having to look at any damn published dictionary.

The spelling sacowlix for CW sik’aluks ‘pants’ is especially neat, as it’s a further example of the pioneer trend where folks represented Jargon’s long (and usually stressed) /á/ sound with spellings that in standard English indicate /ai/ or, as we see here, /au/. Which, in certain North American dialects of English, do sound like /a/.

hyu ictas

HYU ICTAS. — Mr. Bettman iscum hyu chee ictas. Pose mica potlatch tenas dollar, yaka potlatch hyu ictas. Mitlite sail, possesse, stick shoes, kappo, sacowlix, etc., etc., pe kaqua. Chaco conway Boston — hyas man, tenas man pe klootchman — iscum mica dollar, pe cumtux icta nica wawa. Our good friend Bernard is constantly on hand to greet his customer. See advertisement. 

— from the Olympia (Washington Territory) Washington Standard of September 16, 1865, page 2, column 3

I haven’t found a separate advertisement for this business in the same issue. The above is perfectly fine for me!

Translating it into modern Grand Ronde-style spellings, and into English —

hayu iktʰas — mr. betman iskam hayu chxi iktʰas. pus mayka pa(t)lach tənəs dala, yaka pa(t)lach hayu iktʰas. miɬayt sil, pasisi, stik-shush, kapu, sik’aluks, etc., etc., pi kakwa. chaku kanawi bastən — hayas(h) man, tənəs-man pi ɬuchmən — iskam mayka dala, pi kəmtəks ikta nayka wawa.

“LOTS OF ITEMS. — Mr. [Louis] Bettman [pioneer of 1853] has gotten lots of new items (in stock). If you’ll give a bit of money, he’ll give lots of merchandise. There’s cloth, blankets, boots/leather shoes, coats, pants, etc., etc., and so on. Come all you Americans — grown men, boys and ladies — take (along) your money, and know what I’m talking about.”

Kahta mika tumtum?
What do you think?