‘Silverside salmon’ (coho) in Shoalwater Bay Chinuk Wawa

Add this to your Jargon dictionaries.


(Image credit: Walmart)

In 1941, the hardest-working man in the anthro business, John Peabody Harrington, learned from Emma Luscier of Shoalwater Bay in SW Washington that there’s a Chinuk Wawa term for coho (locally called “silverside”) salmon:

[Lower] Cheh[alis Salish] sĸʼɪ·tʼα̬mu·ɬ, silverside [u·ɬ] also sometimes accented. Emma & Henry n[ot aware of]. “coho” totally, never heard the word “coho”. = [Chinook] jarg[on]. x̣άnɬkʼɪ· yὰkkà· nʋ̂·s sâ·mαn, lit. crooked nose salmon, so called in the jarg. because it has a crooked nose (gest[uring] holding her fingers) [a drawing accompanies this in the field notes]

This Jargon phrase would be written in the modern Grand Ronde spellings as x̣ə́nłq’i-yaka-nús-sámən, literally ‘crooked-its-nose-salmon’.


Breaching coho (image credit: Wild Salmon Center)

The Lower Chehalis word for it is based on a word for ‘fishhook’. Unless coho are especially easy to take by hook, I’m thinking this also is a nod to the shape of its jaws.


Antique North West Coast Native American halibut fish hook (image credit: Worthpoint)

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