“Stick shoes” loan-translated into Lushootseed, twice

In memory of the late Thom Hess.

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Skin shoes? (Image credit: Youtube)

(I originally posted the following on the old CHINOOK listserv in 2006, while preparing to take over Thom’s popular Salish Languages class at UVic. I’ve expanded it a bit here.)

Thanks to T. Hess’s class materials this semester, I see what look like two disguised borrowings from Chinook Jargon into Lushootseed.

It would be more accurate to call these “calques” or “loan translations”. That’s where a term from Language A gets assigned a word-for-word translation in Language B — even if the result doesn’t make perfect sense in language B. (Short explanation.)

An example of a calque in English might be, well, “Stick Indian”. In Language A (Chinook Jargon) this has been documented as “stík-sawash” meaning a “native of the backwoods”. Calqued into Language B (English) it sounds as if it should mean a “First Nations person who collects wood” or something like that. Not really the same idea, eh!

In the Dxʷləšucid (“Lushootseed”) Salish language of Puget Sound in Washington state, the two main dialect areas have separate words for “boot/shoe”.

  • NORTH: qʷɬayʔ-šəd
  • SOUTH: st’k’wab-šəd

Here, qʷɬayʔ is the N Lushootseed word for “log”. In S Lushootseed, st’k’wab is the word for the same thing.

The ending –šəd means “foot”. Here, by extension (and perhaps by influence from the similar-sounding Chinook Jargon shush), it serves as “shoe”.

So we have what looks like a loan translation from Jargon in both dialects. (CJ stík = “log; wood(s); tree”, shúsh = “shoe” meaning any footgear; stík-shush = ‘Euro-American-style shoes’, as distinct from Native moccasins which are skín-shush.)

Extra information:

The Tulalip dialect is between N & S Lushootseed, in some respects. In Tulalip they wound up using the Southern word, because these folks shopped at Fort Nisqually to the South. North of Tulalip the Lushootseed speakers apparently shopped at Fort Langley, northward of them in Canada. Both fur-trade posts were major early centers of creolized/Métis Chinuk Wawa.

So you see, history leaves traces in language.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?