1941: Spencer Scott’s SW Oregon Chinuk Wawa vocabulary (audio)

Thanks a million to Chinuk Wawa speaker/writer/revitalizer Alex Code for pointing us to this one!


(Image credit: Alex Code, essentially)

We have a 1941 audio recording of Spencer Scott (Siuslaw / Lower Umpqua speaker, former speaker of Alsea; acquaintance of Coquelle Thompson). This was made by John Paul Marr, working for ethnographer JP Harrington. 

It seems to me Mr. Scott starts giving Chinuk Wawa material off and on from the 6:11 mark in the audio file. 

Alex tells us: “I cut out the bit where I think are Chinook words and uploaded it here” as a YouTube video. Go check that out! Alex also scribed much of the following CW notes on Mr. Scott’s information.

Some guidance on my somewhat exact phonetics below: 

  1. When I place an asterisk after a word, I’m not sure of what I’m hearing on the tape.
  2. The notation ” — ” shows an unexpected pause in speech.
  3. I’ve tried to carefully record the differences between compounds (shown with the words connected by a dash, and “grave” accent on the final member) and other multi-word phrases (not joined by a dash, both words have “acute” accent).
  4. Mr. Scott’s “ɪy”, as I’ve written it, tends to sound similar to “εy” as in English “hey”. 
  • lɪpúm [‘apple’]
  • músmus [‘cow’]
  • unidentified word sounding like łútʔay* / kʰíwtæn* (?) [‘?’ / ‘horse'(?)]
  • ɪ́tsxwət [‘(black) bear (not grizzly)’] 
  • yakə ɪ́skəm ɪ́tsxwət [‘(s)he got a bear’]
  • ɪ́kta ma* ɪ́tsx̣wət [‘what kind is (your*) bear?’] but I strongly suspect all but the last word are Siuslaw
  • unidentified word sounding like tsə́sqən*, and phrases using it
  • kə́wtɪn [‘horse’]
  • ɪ́kta ma* — kə́wtɪn* [‘what kind is your — horse?’ but I strongly suspect all but the last word are Siuslaw
  •  (?) ɪ́skəm kə́wtɪn [‘take(s) a horse’] (it sounds like maybe the recording machine started partway into the phrase, which may have started with a pronoun such as yaka ‘(s)he’)
  • unidentified words probably in Siuslaw, including for ‘night’
  • qʰalá  [‘fence’]

  • kʰyúdən-qalá [‘horse corral’?]

  • kʰyútən-lɪpʰyí* [‘hoof’?] –the “y” sounds almost like an “s”

  • yə́kso [‘hair’]

  • sápəlɪl [‘bread’]

  • qə́ləx̣* [‘fence’?] 

  • kʰə́ləpin [‘rifle’]

  • chɪ́kchɪk [‘wagon’] — the “ch” sounds kind of like “ts”

  • ləpús [‘mouth’] — the “s” sounds kind of like “sh”

  • lipúm [‘apple’]

  • ǽpəl-stɪ̀k ‘apple tree’
  • qwəlán [‘ear’]
  • siyáxos ‘eye’
  • tʰiyáwɪt [‘leg’] 
  • yax̣kə* tʰiyáwɪt; yax̣ə* tʰiyáwɪt  [‘her/his leg’] — it sounds like JP Marr is trying to get Mr. Scott to translate ‘sit’ and/or ‘sit there’
  • skáləks [‘pants’]
  • kʰapú ‘coat’
  • siyápuɬ ‘hat’ 
  • kʰushú ‘pig’
  • ɪ́ɬwili ‘meat’ 
  • chɪ́kʰəmɪn ‘money’
  • pʰɪ́l* chɪ́kʰəmɪn [‘gold’] ‘lots of money’ — Mr. Scott hesitates a long time before translating this for Marr, and the first word is hard to hear
  • kʰəmósək ‘beads’
  • ɬɪ́ʔɪl [‘black’]
  • (p)chɪ́x̣ ‘green’ — I’m not sure I’m hearing the expected “p” sound
  • pɪ́l ‘red’
  • qún* ‘brown’ — not heard clearly, and I’m not sure what word Mr. Scott was trying for
  • tk’úp ‘white’ 
  • (p)chɪ́x̣ ‘yellow’ — I’m not sure I’m hearing the expected “p” sound
  • tk’úp-mæ̀n; tʰkóp-mæ̀n  ‘white man‘ — that is, Marr says it in English with the strongest stress on “man” 
  • wápəto ‘potato’ 
  • t’sɪ́y wápəto ‘sweet potato’ (!)
  • sáble ‘bread’
  • músmus-klìs ‘butter’
  • kúshu glís ‘lard’ — sounds like Marr is confusingly prompting him with ‘log’!
  • tɪ́ktɪk ‘clock’
  • pasɪ́sɪ ‘blanket’ 
  • míməlos; míməlus ‘dead man’ 
  • míməlus tɪ́lɪhəm ‘dead man’ 
  • pú ‘shoot’
  • wíhət* ‘road’
  • tʰiyáwɪt-ɬàdəwə ‘walking’
  • kʰúli  ‘running’
  • ɪ́ləhɪy; ɪ́ləhi [‘place’ etc.]
  • maykə ɪ́ləhi [‘your place/home’] ‘you’ 
  • nəsáykə [‘we/us/our’] –in response to a prompt for ‘him’ 
  • yə́kə; yákə ‘him’
  • ɬáskε ‘them’
  • náygə ‘me’
  • ɪ́ləhi plǽw ‘plow’ — given after very long hesitation
  • pólə*-tə̀yi* ‘God’ — I’m not sure what’s going on here
  • ləkʰəmín [‘stew’]
  • kə́pkəp ‘cricket’ — given after hesitation and much prompting; new to me, perhaps from his Native language?
  • mɪ́tkwis* ‘eel’ — given after hesitation; new to me, perhaps from his Native language? Not found in the publication “Alsea Texts” nor “Siuslaw: An Illustrative Sketch”

One broad note that I’d make right here is, Spencer Scott’s Chinuk Wawa resembles how people speak at Grand Ronde, in some of his pronunciations and vocabulary. But we have almost no grammar evidence here, since this is a list of individual words.

Alex makes further observations:

“He doesn’t usually say ejectives” — this is Dave interjecting to say, for what it’s worth, that the piece on Siuslaw (Šaayušƛa/Quuiič) phonology in Wikipedia suggests that there fundamentally are no ejective (popping) consonants in that language.

“…and he tends towards the “o” vowel rather than the “u” in some words…He says L not R in words like “kuli” (instead of Grand Ronde “kuri“). Interesting as a southern speaker he gives “æpəl-stik” for “apple tree” without any hesitation! Also he gives “tk’op-mæn” for “white man”, though there is a little hesitation after saying it (potentially he wanted to correct himself to “bastən-mæn“?)”

Bonus fact: 

I’ll write up a separate article on the traces of Chinuk Wawa, and of other language contact, that I find within the Siuslaw language.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?