1930: Williams, “Logger-Talk”

Another in my sporadic series of gems from the old CHINOOK listserv that deserve more attention:

Screenshot 2022-03-03 074520

(Image credit: Collins Unbound blog @ UPS)

I should clarify that this book…

Williams, Guy. 1930. Logger-talk: Some notes on the jargon of the Pacific
Northwest woods. Seattle: University of Washington Book Store. (University
of Washington Chapbooks, number 41.)

…documents how English was spoken in PNW lumber camps. “Jargon” in its title means a workplace lingo.

That English included a significant amount of Chinuk Wawa loan words. Some loggers talked CW, but not all did.

A few selected entries:

  • “Brown brother: A Filipino or Kanaka.” [interestingly seems to assume NW
    readers will understand “Kanaka“, the Chinook Jargon word for Pacific Islanders]
  • Siwash: A canoe Indian.” [from CJ’s word for a ‘Native’…see below]
  • Chinook: Aside from the famous warm winds, the trade jargon of the old
    Pacific Northwest…”
  • Chuck: A body of water, as in salt chuck for Puget Sound, Pilchuck for red
    river; also means food.” [!!] [that last one isn’t from Jargon!]
  • Cultus: Bad; from the Chinook jargon.”
  • Keelapi: Tipped over; from the Chinook jargon.” [implies an interesting
    pronunciation with a long “keel” as opposed to the short “k’il” that we’re used to; could it have been influenced by English slang “keel over”?]
  • Klatawa: Go; from the Chinook jargon.”
  • Klootchman: Woman, squaw; from the Chinook jargon.” [sorry for the authentic racist slur he used there]
  • Kok-shut: All broken up; from the Chinook jargon.”
  • Mesahche: Obscene or evil; from the Chinook jargon.”
  • Siwash: Used as an adjective; a slack and un-enterprizing [sic] outfit is a
    Siwash outfit.” [this is how the word was used in PNW English; it isn’t a racial slur within Jargon]

Quite the neat little indicator that the Jargon left a lasting mark on PNW English speech — especially in logging’s ground zero, the more remote forested regions — well into the 20th century.

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