sisu, from Métis French as well as English
The Chinook Jargon word for ‘scissors’ comes from both Métis French and English…
In whichever pronunciation you use!
Visual pun: Seesu Gundu, from the improv scifi comedy podcast Mission to Zyxx (snipped from: Zyxx.fandom.com)
The Canadian origin is most self-evident in George Gibbs’ lower Columbia River CW < le-sée-zo >, since that carries the French definite article, as in les ciseaux. That’s almost certainly the earliest form of the word in the Jargon.
But we also find sisu in the 2012 dictionary of the Grand Ronde Tribes. That would appear to come primarily from English ‘scissor(s)’, if we judge from its lack of the French definite article.
But my money says that there is more to this story.
Why no final /s/ sound on it? In real spoken English, we hardly ever use this noun in the singular…
And why does it have a final /u/? Other English words that end in the frequent unstressed syllable /ər/ wind up as final /a/ (or /ə/) in Chinook Jargon. Thus, dála, dákta, kʰwáta from ‘dollar’, ‘doctor’, and ‘quarter’. I’ve never encountered someone using a pronunciation like *dálu*, *dáktu*, *kʰwátu*!
But something that we do indeed find plenty of is CJ words where /u/ corresponds to Métis French /u/ in words that standard French has /o/ in. Thus, something like (li)sizu ~ (li)sisu is just what we’d expect in a Jargon word originally supplied by Métis French (and/or Michif?) speakers. That’s essentially identical with Michif < liisiizoo > from St. Lazare, MB, and < li seezoo > from Turtle Mountain, ND.
My view is that this shorter variant of the word in Jargon simply shows us the mounting influence of locally spoken English as the decades went by. Things got to a point where French was no longer as often heard as English in the Grand Ronde community, so the word scissors started to influence how Jargon speakers pronounced this word.
But, with or without the li at the start of it, ‘scissors’ in Chinuk Wawa is ultimately a Métis French word.
Very interesting, but you seem to be ignoring your own source: George Gibbs’ dictionary. “Le see-zo” corresponds perfectly to non-Métis French “les ciseaux” /lesizo/, rather than /lesizu/. Going through the dictionary, George Gibbs by and large seems to use a double OO to represent /u/: hence Le-kloo, Le-koo, Le-loo from French “le clou, le cou, le loup” (respectively). On the other hand, he seems to use simple O for /o/: hence Lapome, Lapote from French “La pomme”, “La porte”, respectively.
(I accept your idea that English influence explains why the initial /le/ was deleted, but such influence would not have caused /o/ to be raised to /u/ -since the expected reflex of “scissors” would have had final schwa or /a/, as you point out, in fact, we would expect English influence to have lowered the final vowel).
What this suggests is that the raising of /o/ to /u/ (For this word! It will take more research to see whether or not this is a general rule) took place within the history of Chinook Wawa and thus that the similarity to the Métis French raising of /o/ to /u/ may be purely coincidental (unless Chinook Wawa and Métis French both underwent similar changes due to their being in contact with another). But either way, the word originally must have had a general French phonology that was not specifically that of (Modern) Métis French (The word may have been introduced by Métis French speakers, of course: we simply do not know when the raising from /o/ to /u/ in this variety of French took place).
Oh, one last related point: I have recently run into some rather little-known varieties of North American French that were spoken far away from the Prairies. To my surprise, they share some striking features with Métis French, and I thus suspect that a couple of Métis French “innovations” are, in fact, conservative features. I hope to present/publish on the topic sometime soon.
But it means that odds are better than even that Métis linguistic distinctiveness postdates the introduction of (all? some?) French loanwords into Chinook Wawa.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I love it, thank you for sharing this information. There’s just not much data on Métis French available yet, so we have plenty of research to do!
I should also point out that the sound recordings I hear of Michif’s French component consistently present an original /o:/ that’s now sort of indeterminate between [o:] and [u:] …