1932: Intricate sports cheer in Jargon (BC rugby)

This 15-per-team sport was clearly Rugby Union…

Screenshot 2022-05-11 105802

(Image credit: The Globe and Mail’s 2010 obituary of one of the Chinook Jargon chanters)

The Chinook Jargon here was composed long past the frontier era, and obviously with the help of published dictionaries — thus the quasi-standardized spellings.

The grammar of it is pretty OK.

The semantics of the words used, though, betray(s) a heavy Settler influence. For example, “Kla-How-Yah” being translated as ‘How do you do’ is one of the oldest anglophone tropes of CJ, going back to the “Clark, how are you” fallacy.

“Mamook Hee Hee” getting translated as ‘play the game’ is misleading at best. This expression in Jargon historically always means ‘to have fun’. The translator was starting from an English-language original, and translating it sort of word-for-word. Rarely a successful technique; try it in Google Translate with any random pair of languages that you know!

Similarly, “Tolo Hee Hee” for ‘win the game’ is kind of odd-sounding within Chinuk Wawa, where it would sound more like ‘manage to laugh’.

The word “Lose” is an interesting intrusion of contemporary English, but ironically it’s one of the most authentic things about this Chinook chant. That’s because BC Chinook Jargon indeed had a common borrowing from English for this concept — although I’ve only found it as lost. (E.g. yaka lost yaka təmtəm ‘he’s lost his mind’.)

Oh right, here’s the actual new clipping!


REFERENCE was made in this column yesterday to the Canadian “war cry,” which preceded all games against Nipponese fifteens. It will be used in the big game on Saturday afternoon at Brockton Point when the “Reps” play the All-Canadian side. We have prevailed upon Harry Lord, the Instigator of the “blood-curdling” yell, to give us a copy. Here it is with its interpretation: 

Leader: Delate Kloshe Tillicum
(Very good friend) 

All: Kla-How-Yah Kla-How-Yah
(How do you do)

Leader: Delate Kloshe Tillicum
All: Kla-How-Yah Kla-How-Yah

All: Kloshe Wah Wah Kloshe Wah Wah 
     (Sincerely Spoken) 
Leader: Nesika Mamook Hee Hee 
     (We will play the game) 
All: Nesika Mamook Hee Hee 
All: Nawitka, Nawitka, Nawitka 
     (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) 
Leader: Spose Nesika Tollo Hee Hee 
     (If we win the game) 
All: Kloshe Tum Tum Klosh Tum Tum 
     (We will be happy) 
Leader: Spose Nesika Lose Hee Hee 
     (If we lose the game) 
All: Kloshe Tum Tum Kloshe Tum Tum 
     (We will be happy) 
All: Quansum Mamook Hee Hee 
     (Always play the game) 
All: Canada.

— from the “Thru the Sportlight” column in the Vancouver (BC) Daily Province of 24 Feb 1932, page 8, column 5

kata maika tomtom?
What do you think?