1893: (April Fools?) Tug-of-war

A sub-type of the “invitations in Chinook genre”: challenges to sporting matches.

I’m open to the possibility that this one was a joke, as the sport involved is so informal (tug-of-war), and the date of publication was April 1st.

If this was a real event, it might have some connection with the Victoria YMCA.


(Image credit: City of Victoria Archives)

Or could it have been associated with the Victoria Police Department’s tug-of-war team, shown here in 1906 with their trophies?



Tyhee House.

Cioosh mika mamloose okook man. Telate make cloosh. Nika tumtum okook man tickie mamook haul copa market house conna noxt tatlum King George men.


— from the Victoria (BC) Daily Times of April 1, 1893, page 8, column 1

Having a closer gander at this Chinuk Wawa:

Tyhee House.
táyí-háws. [1]

Cioosh mika [2] mamloose [3] okook man.
ɬúsh mayka míməlus úkuk mán.
good you die those men.
‘Kill those fellows.’

Telate make [4] cloosh.
dléyt mayka ɬúsh.
really you good.
‘You’re really good.’

Nika tumtum okook man tickie mamook haul [5] copa market [6] house conna noxt tatlum
nayka tə́mtəm úkuk mán tíki mámuk hál kʰupa márkət*-háws kʰanamákst táɬləm
I think those men want make-pull at buying*-building together.with ten
‘I think those fellows want to do some pulling at the Market Building* with ten 

King George men.
British (or ‘Canadian’) men.’ 


táyí-háws [1] is a mostly Settler-related phrase for ‘head office’, etc. 

mika [2] being a singular ‘you’, I’m wondering if today’s Chinook invitation is reproduced from something like a postcard mailed to several individuals. 

mamloose [3] fundamentally means ‘die’, but Settler speakers under the influence of English frequently used it as ‘kill’. I believe this is because English has a single-word expression for this concept, whereas Chinook Jargon has a two-word expression, mamook mamloose. CJ dictionaries that were English-oriented (and there was no other kind!) tended to define mamloose as both ‘die’ and ‘kill’. 

make [4] seems to be mika ‘you’. Otherwise, it’s the exceptional intrusion of an English verb into the message. 

mamook haul [5] appears to be the way the writer expresses ‘tug-of-war’, since there’s no established word for this game in Jargon. I kind of like this choice. It’s literally saying ‘make some pulling; do some pulling’. What do you think? 

market [6] house, I suppose, is intentionally using an English word to say ‘market building’. Any Victoria history buffs here? Where was that place? Otherwise, this would seem to be a quirky mistake for makook house ‘shop, store’, which strikes me as much less probable. 

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?