1928: Menu in Chinook in BC, and “God Save the King”

Maybe you can help decipher this!There’s probably a local Salish word, and some rusty dictionary Jargon, but a ton of post-frontier fun…

A son of the notable Hudsons Bay Company employee (and speaker of Chinook Jargon) William F. Tolmie was about to get elected premier of the province of British Columbia.

Here that son is being wined and dined by admirers on Vancouver Island, who I imagine were giving a nod to his Métis and fur-trade heritage by using a bunch of Chinook.


S.F. Tolmie (image credit: The Tyee)

This guest of honour, Victoria-born Simon Fraser Tolmie (1867-1937), understood the language, we’re told.

One time he was harangued in Jargon to run for BC Premier, by Esquimalt-born Robert Henry “Harry” Pooley (1878-1954).

Today’s news clipping brings us another menu in Chinuk Wawa…a surprising genre to turn up in our research!

As always, I’ll do some translating after showing you this 1928 article. A reminder, to see it in a larger and more readable size, you can right-click the image of the article and view it in a new browser tab.

Premier S.F. Tolmie and Minister Guest at Function at Duncan

A feature of the complimentary dinner given by Duncan Chamber of Commerce at the Commercial Hotel recently, to the Hon. S.F. Tolmie, premier; the Hon. N.S. Lougheed, minister of public works; Mr. C.H. Deckie, M.P.; and Mr. C.F. Davie, M.L.A., was the attractive menu card.

It was unique in that some knowledge of the Chinook jargon was necessary to enable one to identify the speakers and the viands, practically all of which were the produce of Cowichan.

“Cultus Potlach”

This “Cultus Potlach Muck A Muck,” as the menu set forth, had the following menu or “Itka Muck A Muck”:– 

Klock Klock
Tenas Ikta Konamoxt Salt
Tenas Ikta Konamoxt Lehoil
Warm Tootosh Konamoxt Ikta
Liplip Cowichan Salloweck Konamoxt

Pil Ikta(:)
Appola Cowichan Lepbole
Wapito          Lepoah
Kushaw Muck A Muck
Tane Ikta Konamoxt Cleatz
He-He Muck A Muck
Innati Le Mountain Fromage
Tenas Pire sapplel
Cowichan Moos Moos Glease
Tea     Kappy     Tatoosh
Skookum Chuck
(Tenas helo delate)

There was humor in the last item of “Skookum Chuck (tenas halo delate)” and the salad received a translation which may have disturbed its dignity.

Lengthy Toast List

In the “Hiue Wa Wa” or toast list, “Doctin Tolmie, Elip Tyee Konaway Nesika Illahee,” was proposed by Mr. O.T. Smythe, president, Duncan Chamber of Commerce; “N.S. Lougheed, Tyee Kopa Government Mamook,” was proposed by H.F. Provost; “C.H. Deckie, Ottawa Tyee,” by K.F. Duncan; “C.F. Davie, Cowichan Tyee,” by A.H. Peterson; “Duncan Illahie” (Mayor Z. Islay Miller) and “North Cowichan Illahie” (Reeve John N. Evans) by Thomas Pitt; and “Tsum Paper” (The Press) by W.P. Jayacq.

It will be noted that the proposers of toasts were all past presidents of the Chamber (or the “Board of Trade” as it was formerly designated) while two of those responding held similar records.

The proceedings closed with “Sockally Tyee Kloshe Nanitch King George.”

— Vernon (BC) News, Thu, Nov 8, 1928, courtesy of reader Alex Code

Some translating:

  • “Cultus Potlach” =
    ‘gift’, an established Jargon phrase
  • “Cultus Potlach Muck A Muck” =
    kʰə́ltəs-pá(t)lach mə́kʰmək
    (‘for.no.purpose-giving food’)
    ‘gift meal, a meal in honour of someone’, a newly invented Jargon phrase
  • menu or “Itka [sic] Muck A Muck” =
    íkta mə́kʰmək
    ‘what to eat’

    • Klock Klock =
    • Tenas Ikta Konamoxt Salt =
      tənəs-íkta kʰanumákwst sált
      ‘little things together with salt’, the meaning being unclear (kʰanumákwst means ‘accompanying’ in Jargon, but these Settlers are using it in an English-language-influenced sense of ‘made with; including’)
    • Tenas Ikta Konamoxt Lehoil =
      tənəs-íkta kʰanumákwst __?__
      ‘little things together with __?__’
    • Warm Tootosh Konamoxt Ikta =
      wám tʰutʰúsh kʰanumákwst íkta
      ‘warm milk together with something’
    • Liplip Cowichan Salloweck Konamoxt =
      líplip káwichən* sálwaxw* kʰanumákwst
      ‘boiled Cowichan salmon together (with)’
      [sic; “sallowaex” is ‘salmon’ in the 1853 “Columbian” (Olympia, Washington) Chinook Jargon vocabulary, coming from the Upper Chehalis Salish sálwaxʷ for ‘Chinook (tyee) salmon’ — this is a “book word” on Vancouver Island!]
    • Pil Ikta =
      pʰíl íkta
      ‘red things’
    • Appola Cowichan Lepbole =
      apʰala* káwichən* lepʰúl
      ‘roast Cowichan chicken’
    • Wapito = wáptʰu ‘potatoes’          Lepoah = lipʰwá ‘peas’
    • Kushaw Muck A Muck =
      kúshu mə́kʰmək
      ‘pig food’ (this would be the salad that was mentioned!) 😁
    • Tane Ikta Konamoxt Cleatz =
      tənəs*-íkta kʰanumákwst __?__
      ‘little things together (with) __?__’ (meaning unclear) (I expect cleatz may be a local Hul’q’umi’num Salish word)
    • He-He Muck A Muck =
      híhi mə́kʰmək
      ‘fun(ny) food’ (meaning what?)
    • Innati Le Mountain Fromage =
      ínatʰay-lamətay fromage
      (‘across-mountains fromage‘)
      ‘fromage (cheese) from (eastern) Canada’? (obviously a newly invented phrase!)
    • Labiscuit =
      ‘biscuits’ (‘cookies’ since the participants were Anglophiles?)
    • Tenas Pire sapplel =
      (‘little cooked bread’)
      ‘buns/rolls’? (not an established Jargon expression)
    • Cowichan Moos Moos Glease =
      káwichən* músmus-klís
      (‘Cowichan cow-grease’)
      ‘Cowichan butter’
    • Tea     Kappy     Tatoosh = tʰí, kʰófi, tʰutʰúsh ‘tea, coffee, milk’ 
    • Skookum Chuck (Tenas helo delate) =
      skúkum chə́qw (tənəs-hílu-dlé(y)t)
      (strong water (little-not-straight)
      ‘spirits (not quite straight)’ (on the rocks or something?)
  • “Hiue Wa Wa” or toast list =
    háyú wáwa
    ‘lots of talking’

    • “Doctin Tolmie, Elip Tyee Konaway Nesika Illahee” =
      dáktən tʰólmi*, íləp táyí kʰánawi nsayka ílihi
      ‘Doctor Tolmie, first leader all our land’ [sic] (not very grammatical Chinook Jargon)
    • “N.S. Lougheed, Tyee Kopa Government Mamook” =
      táyí kʰupa gávmin* mámuk
      ‘chief for government work’
    • “C.H. Deckie, Ottawa Tyee” =
      ‘Ottawa leader’
    • “C.F. Davie, Cowichan Tyee” =
      ‘Cowichan leader’
    • “Duncan Illahie” =
      ‘the Duncan district’
    • “North Cowichan Illahie” =
      ‘the North Cowichan district’
    • “Tsum Paper” (The Press) =


The king whom the BC banqueters wished to save (Image credit: Pinterest)
  • “Sockally Tyee Kloshe Nanitch King George” =
    sáx̣ali-táyí ɬúsh-nánich kʰínchóch
    (‘sky-chief well-watch King George’) — grammatical if it’s a command —
    God Save the King‘ (a phrase made up for the occasion)

Coming so long after the 1890 “closing of the frontier” that historians have arbitrarily designated, the Jargon documented in this 1928 article is what we expect. It’s pretty awful.

It was only meant for fun anyways!

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?