1914: LBDB’s “Chinook-English Songs”, part 2 of 15 “Nika Wake Shunta Ole Sante”

Being a longtime partisan of Chinook Jargon, it pains me to confess that the Chinooking of today’s song made it much worse than the touching original!

horse_meat_culture_food_us_france_canada

(Image credit: Eater)

The lyrics come out sounding like a dirge about Alzheimer’s Disease.

I love me some Chinuk Wawa singing (foreign readers: this means that Chinuk Wawa singing is my favorite thing in the world).

I propose that my readers take all the flawed CW songs presented on my site, and translate them into fluent Jargon — whether it’s Grand Ronde style or the BC dialect.

Let’s hear some recordings of you!

Let’s have concerts at our Chinuk-Wawa Luʔlu, as we bring back that yearly tradition!

Laura Belle Downey-Bartlett’s book, “Chinook-English Songs” (Portland, OR: Kubli-Miller, 1914).

2 “Nika Wake Shunta Ole Sante”,

nika wake shunta 1

nika wake shunta 2

NIKA WAKE SHUNTA OLE SANTE.

Ict.

Nika wake shunta ole sante,
Nika shunta ankutta ict cole,
Nika tum-tum pee wau-wau, wake tikegh,
Pilton chuck chaco nika see-owist,
Ankutta sun chaco nika tum-tum,
Pee konaway kum-tux sante
Wake nika shunta ole sante,
Kopet kum-tux pee moosum,
Wake nika shunta ole sante,
Kopet kum-tux pee moosum.

Mox.

Nika wake shunta ole sante,
Klosh mamook nika tum-tum sick,
Klaska sante mamook kum-tux nika,
Ankutta sick tum-tum pee moosum
Kegh-t-chie nika kopet kum-tux,
Sick tum-tum t’see yah-ka,
Nika wake shunta ole sante,
Kah-kwa klosh pee nika,
Nika wake shunta ole sante,
Kah-kwa klosh pee nika. 

Klone.

Nika wake shunta ole sante;
Tah-manawis chee chaco,
Ankutta t’zum moosum,
Hy-iu ict cole tum-tum sick,
Klonas alki nika kopet mitlite;
Nika tah-manawis klatawa kah,
Nika wau-wau kumtuv [sic] ole sante,
Pee konaway kwanisum;
Nika wau-wau kumtuv [sic] ole sante,
Pee konaway kwanisum. 

i cannot sing 1

i cannot sing 2

The original English lyric that LBDB based her Chinook translation on:

I CANNOT SING THE OLD SONGS
[by “Claribel” (Charlotte Alington Barnard), 1830-1869]

1

I cannot sing the old songs
I sang long years ago,
For heart and voice would fail me,
And foolish tears would flow;
For by-gone hours come o’er my heart,
With each familiar strain,
I cannot sing the old songs,
Or dream those dreams again,
I cannot sing the old songs,
Or dream those dreams again.

2

I cannot sing the old songs,
Their charm is sad and deep;
Their melodies would waken
Old sorrows in their sleep,
And tho’ all unforgotten still,
And sadly sweet they be,
I cannot sing the old songs,
They are too dear to me;
I cannot sing the old songs,
They are too dear to me.

3

I cannot sing the old songs,
For visions come again,
Of golden dreams departed
And years of weary pain,
Perhaps when earthly fetters shall
Have set my spirit free,
My voice may know the old songs,
For all eternity,
My voice may know the old songs,
For all eternity.

Deeply diving into the Chinuk Wawa text…

(Here, “DDR” indicates my own translation of what LBDB’s Jargon is actually saying.

And I assure you that, as always, I’m putting the most charitable interpretation on the questionable bits in the following Jargon. By that I mean that I try to acknowledge LBDB’s intended meaning, and I give proper respect to the fact that she actually spoke good Jargon. I try to interpret what she’s written as complete, grammatical CW sentences.)

NIKA WAKE SHUNTA OLE SANTE.
nayka wík shá(n)ti úl [1] shá(n)ti.
I not sing elderly song.
DDR: ‘I Won’t Sing Elderly Songs.’
‘I Cannot Sing the Old Songs.’

Ict.
íxt.
one.
DDR: ‘1.’
‘1’

Nika wake shunta ole sante,
nayka wík shá(n)ti úl shá(n)ti,
I not sing elderly song,
DDR: ‘I won’t sing elderly songs,’
‘I cannot sing the old songs’

Nika shunta ankutta ict cole,
nayka shá(n)ti Ø [2] ánqati íxt kʰúl,
I sing it/them long.ago one winter,
DDR: ‘That I sang long ago one year,’
‘I sang long years ago,’

Nika tum-tum pee wau-wau, wake tikegh,
nayka tə́mtəm pi wáwa [3], wík tíki,

my heart and words, not want,
DDR: ‘I think and say, don’t want,’
‘For heart and voice would fail me,’

Pilton chuck chaco nika see-owist,
píltən chə́qw (Ø) cháku Ø nayka siyáxus(t),
crazy water (it) come to my eyes,
DDR: ‘The crazy tears that come to my eyes,’
‘And foolish tears would flow;’

Ankutta sun chaco nika tum-tum,
ánqati-sán [4] cháku Ø nayka tə́mtəm,
long.ago-day come to my heart,
DDR: ‘A long-ago day come to my heart,’
‘For by-gone hours come o’er my heart,’

Pee konaway kum-tux sante
pi kʰánawi kə́mtəks [5] shá(n)ti
and all know song
DDR: ‘And everyone knows the song’
‘With each familiar strain,’

Wake nika shunta ole sante,
wík nayka shá(n)ti úl shá(n)ti,
not I sing elderly song,
DDR: ‘I won’t sing elderly songs,’
‘I cannot sing the old songs,’

Kopet kum-tux pee moosum,
kʰəpít-kə́mtəks pi músum, [6]
finish-know and sleep,
DDR: ‘Forgetting and sleeping,’
‘Or dream those dreams again,’

Wake nika shunta ole sante,
wík nayka shá(n)ti úl shá(n)ti,
not I sing elderly song,
DDR: ‘I won’t sing elderly songs,’
‘I cannot sing the old songs,’

Kopet kum-tux pee moosum.
kʰəpít-kə́mtəks pi músum.
finish-know and sleep.
DDR: ‘Forgetting and sleeping.’
‘Or dream those dreams again.’

Mox.
mákwst.
two.
DDR: ‘2.’
‘2’

Nika wake shunta ole sante,
nayka wík shá(n)ti úl shá(n)ti,
I not sing elderly song,
DDR: ‘I won’t sing elderly songs.’
‘I cannot sing the old songs,’

Klosh mamook nika tum-tum sick,
ɬúsh [6] Ø mámuk nayka tə́mtəm sík,
good make my heart sick,
DDR: ‘Let them make my heart be sick,’
‘Their charm is sad and deep;’

Klaska sante mamook kum-tux nika,
ɬaska [7] shá(n)ti mamuk-kə́mtəks nayka,

their song make-know me,
DDR: ‘Their songs inform me,’
‘Their melodies would waken’

Ankutta sick tum-tum pee moosum
ánqati Ø sík-tə́mtəm [8] pi músum
long.ago it/they sick-heart and sleep
DDR: ‘They were long ago sad and sleeping’
‘Old sorrows in their sleep,’

Kegh-t-chie nika kopet kum-tux,
qéx̣chi nayka kʰəpít-kə́mtəks,
although I finish-know,
DDR: ‘Although I forget,’ [9]
‘And tho’ all unforgotten still,’

Sick tum-tum t’see yah-ka,
sík-tə́mtəm[,] t’sí yaka, [10]
sick-heart sweet (s)he,
DDR: ‘(S)he is sad (and?) sweet’
‘And sadly sweet they be,’

Nika wake shunta ole sante,
nayka wík shá(n)ti úl
shá(n)ti,
I not sing elderly song,
DDR: ‘I won’t sing elderly songs,’
‘I cannot sing the old songs,’

Kah-kwa klosh pee nika,
kákwa ɬúsh Ø pi nayka, [11]
so good it/they and I,
DDR: ‘They are so good and I am,’
‘They are too dear to me;’

Nika wake shunta ole sante,
nayka wík shá(n)ti úl shá(n)ti,
I not sing elderly song,
DDR: ‘I won’t sing elderly songs,’
‘I cannot sing the old songs,’

Kah-kwa klosh pee nika.
kákwa ɬúsh Ø pi nayka.
so good it/they and I.
DDR: ‘They are so good and I am.’
‘They are too dear to me.’

Klone.
ɬún.
three.
DDR: ‘3.’
‘3’

Nika wake shunta ole sante;
nayka wík shá(n)ti úl shá(n)ti;
I not sing elderly song;
DDR: ‘I won’t sing elderly songs;’
‘I cannot sing the old songs,’

Tah-manawis chee chaco,
t’əmánəwas [12] chxí cháku,
guardian.spirit just.now come,
DDR: ‘The guardian spirit has arrived,’
‘For visions come again,’

Ankutta t’zum moosum,
ánqati t’sə́m músum,
long.ago written.thing sleep,
DDR: ‘The oldtime writing is asleep,’ [13]
‘Of golden dreams departed’

Hy-iu ict cole tum-tum sick,
háyú íxt [14] kʰúl tə́mtəm sík,
many one winter heart sick,
DDR: ‘Many particular years the heart was sick,’
‘And years of weary pain,’

Klonas alki nika kopet mitlite;
t’ɬúnas áɬqi nayka kʰəpít míɬayt;
maybe eventually I finish being.here;
DDR: ‘Maybe I’ll be done living some day;’
‘Perhaps when earthly fetters shall’

Nika tah-manawis klatawa kah,
nayka t’əmánəwas ɬátwa qʰá,
my guardian.spirit go (some.)where,
DDR: ‘(And) my guardian spirit will go somewhere,’
‘Have set my spirit free,’

Nika wau-wau kumtuv [sic] ole sante,
nayka wáwa kə́mtəks úl shá(n)ti,
my words know elderly song,
DDR: ‘I’ll say, know elderly songs,’
‘My voice may know the old songs,’

Pee konaway kwanisum;
pi kʰánawi kwánsəm;
and all always;
DDR: ‘And it’ll be every(thing?) always;’
‘For all eternity,’

Nika wau-wau kumtuv [sic] ole sante,
nayka wáwa kə́mtəks úl shá(n)ti,
my words know elderly song,
DDR: ‘I’ll say, know elderly songs,’
‘My voice may know the old songs,’

Pee konaway kwanisum.
pi kʰánawi kwánsəm.
and all always.
DDR: ‘And it’ll be every(thing?) always.’
‘For all eternity.’

Footnotes on various points there: 

úl [1] shá(n)ti: In my understanding of Chinook Jargon, the adjective úl ‘old’ mostly applies to people and other living things. An inanimate thing might be characterized as ánqati ‘from old times’. So LBDB sounds like she’s eulogizing “elderly songs”. 

nayka shá(n)ti Ø [2] ánqati íxt kʰúl: DDR: ‘…That I sang long ago one year,’ versus LBDB’s ‘[that] I sang long years ago’. A bit of a difference in focus, no? 

nayka tə́mtəm pi wáwa [3], wík tíki: DDR: ‘I think and say, don’t want,’ versus LBDB’s ‘For heart and voice would fail me’. She’s trying to use wawa as a noun ‘voice’, but it normally just means ‘words; things said’. 

ánqati-sán [4] is a try at a literary expression, which I believe I’ve seen from other Settler users of Jargon. It’s modeled on English, where we say ‘the olden days’. This is not a usual expression in Chinuk Wawa (where you only need to say anqati), but I suspect a good number of people would understand it.

kʰánawi kə́mtəks [5] shá(n)ti: This one is an oddball. LBDB is trying to use kə́mtəks as an adjective, ‘known’, which just isn’t easily understandable Jargon. This word is only a verb in my experience. 

kʰəpít-kə́mtəks pi músum [6] — DDR: ‘Forgetting and sleeping,’ LBDB: ‘Or dream those dreams again.’ Can you square these readings with each other? I can’t. 

ɬaska [7] shá(n)ti ‘their songs’ is grammatical Chinuk Wawa, but ɬaska ‘their; they’ is more correctly limited to animate beings. One more than one level, it’s weird to hear about some songs’ songs! 

Ø sík-tə́mtəm [8] pi músum — DDR: ‘They (Ø, the “silent it/inanimate they”) were long ago sad and sleeping’, LBDB: ‘Old sorrows in their sleep.’ Downey-Bartlett is trying to use sík-tə́mtəm as a noun, whereas it virtually always functions as a descriptive term in Jargon. Another complication is that she, like some other old Settlers, often uses pi (‘and; but; or’) in the way we’re used to using pus (‘if; when’). My sense is that hardly any now-living speakers of Chinook Jargon would understand that usage. 

Mutually contradictory translations…DDR: ‘Although I forget,’ [9] ‘And tho’ all unforgotten still’! Hmm. 🤔

sík-tə́mtəm[,] t’sí yaka, [10] DDR: ‘(S)he is sad (and?) sweet’, LBDB: ‘And sadly sweet they be.’ Is LBDB trying to use the known fluent Jargon “plural yaka” that I’ve often pointed out to you? I’ve seen few indications that she was aware of it, though. And it would refer to animate/human plurals. Instead, she seems to be suddenly referring to a person who is sad (and) sweet. 

ɬúsh Ø pi nayka, [11] is LBDB’s way to try saying ‘they are too dear to me’. Here too she’s using pi oddly; the literal meaning comes across as ‘they are so good and I am (too)’! 

t’əmánəwas [12] chxí cháku: Now this is truly strange usage. No Christian speakers of Chinuk Wawa ever used the word t’əmánəwas for a person’s interior ‘soul; spirit’. Instead, folks commonly refer to their təmtəm or, using an older Jargon word from Salish, (s)p’is. Here she’s literally saying ‘the guardian spirit has just come here’ (as it might if you were a young Native adult on a vision quest), while the original lyric references old memories: ‘for visions come again’. Truly a different image and connotations.

DDR: ‘The oldtime writing is asleep’ is what LBDB comes up with for [13] ‘Of golden dreams departed’. Not a very successfully translated line. 

háyú íxt [14] kʰúl: To say the least, the ixt here is unneeded. At worst, it’s confusing. What could be meant by ‘many particular years’?

My verdict — this Jargon lyric translation is not very good.

Bonus fact:

“I Cannot Sing the Old Songs” must have genuinely been a popular song.

It was parodied more than once, including a version as “I Cannot Eat the Old Horse“.

I suspect those lyrics might actually work well in fluent Jargon!

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?