A further trace of Métis French “calumet”

So far, in previous posts I’ve tallied these 7 echoes of Métis French calumet ‘pipe (for smoking tobacco)’ in the Pacific Northwest:


Stone pipe said to be from a Chinook owner (image credit: Worthpoint)
  • < koulama > in Fort Astoria-era Chinuk Wawa,
  • k’álama in Clackamas Upper Chinookan (without any Chinookan gender etc. prefixes, so obviously a loan),
  • aya-k’álamat ‘his pipe’ in Kiksht Upper Chinookan (with such prefixes),
  • chalámat in Sahaptin,
  • kelé•met in Nez Perce,
  • q’walé[-]m’ɬ-tn’ ‘pipe’ in Lower Cowlitz Salish,
  • q’walí[-]mɬ-n’ ‘tobacco, pipe’ in Upper Chehalis Salish

Now I’ve remembered an 8th, another Chinookan form:

  • < olomboh > ‘pipe’ in Clatsop(/Shoalwater) Lower Chinookan, found in “Ten Years in Oregon” (1844)

This form’s spelling (in which the “O’s” might be a typesetter’s misreading of manuscript “A’s”) suggests what might be phonemically represented as */qulama/.

In this coastal Chinookan language, /q/ is often pronounced as glottal stop [ʔ].

And its /m/ is often realized as [mb].

A form */qulama/ would be a very reasonable match with the vowel-final Clackamas form seen above.

And, the form as given by Lee & Frost, with an initial < o >, exactly matches a common pronunciation of the native Lower Chinookan prefix u- ‘Feminine Singular’. It’s as if the Clatsops heard the originally French word as pronounced by Salish people (with that “Q” sound), and went to work nativizing it!

It would also mesh well with my observation that the neighbouring SW Washington Salish — uniquely among all the tribal languages in our tally — seem as if they’ve reinterpreted calumet in terms of Salish morphemes, giving a word that starts with a back of the mouth sound, /q’/.  (The Salish words above mean ~ ‘thing used for smoking’.)

So I have a strong impression that calumet became a widely used loan word in the Columbia River region.

Bonus fact:

I haven’t found a trace of this word in the farthest downstream SW WA Salish language, Lower Chehalis.

Instead, there’s a long-documented word that means ‘thing used for drinking smoke’.

What that does have in common with the upstream Cowlitz and Upper Chehalis terms for ‘pipe’ is the strategy of referring to it as a tool having a specialized use.

The difference would seem to be that Cowlitz & Upper Chehalis are located much closer to Fort Vancouver and substations thereof, so they more easily picked up a term associated with French-speaking Métis overland fur traders. This would’ve been from about 1825 onward.

Lower Chehalis had more direct contact with English-speaking maritime fur traders, who showed up a generation earlier, perhaps 1794 onward, with a somewhat different array of trade goods.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?