“They speak like birds”: An Indigenous metaphor, as reflected in CW
I’m guessing it means “they speak like idiots”?
Also talking like birds: 80 whistled human languages. Is this map saying such things exist in the Pacific Northwest? (image credit: Smithsonian)
My website has previously shown you the Native metaphor BIRD::FOOL in Chinuk Wawa.
Here’s Jargon expert George Gibbs reporting on how Indigenous people contradict his tentative classification of the Chimakuan languages (Quileute and Chemacum) as relatives of Salish.
(Subsequently, linguistics has caught up to the Indigenous clue.)
The very great dissimilarity between them and the other tongues is, however, recognized by their neighbors, who say that they “speak like birds,” a phrase commonly used in regard to language absolutely foreign.
— page 172 of George Gibbs, “Tribes of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon” (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1877)