1910: ‘stop’ stops nonstop in BC Chinuk Wawa

Here is yet another neato frito confirmation that “stop” was a very common BC Chinook Jargon synonym for the various uses of míɬayt

alec gillespie
Frontispiece of the book

Which is the very longtime CJ copula — that is, a word for ‘be there/here’, ‘exist’, ‘have’, ‘stay’, ‘live there/here’, and so forth. 

I quote from Gillespie, Alexander (1880-1948). [No date (circa 1954?)]. “Journey through life.” This is a privately published biography in the Provincial Archives of British Columbia, Victoria; you can also read it at UBC Libraries online for free. 

Page 68 tells of when Gillespie was surveying timber limits at the head of central coastal BC’s Rivers Inlet (south of Bella Coola) in 1910. That’s the home of the Wuikinuxv people, speakers of a Northern Wakashan language fairly similar to Kwak’wala.  

“Owekans” Lake is surely a transcription error for Owikeno, which is one of the many common spelling variants of Wuikinuxv. 

Here we have quotations of quite quotidian BC Chinuk Wawa qua post-frontier language, recent English loans and all. 

Owekans Lake…The Indians could hardly speak any English and we had to talk in Chinook, which fortunately I knew enough of to make them understand…At one place, the Indians appeared to be almost afraid. When I asked them what was the matter, they told me, ‘Him solix bear stop.’…I had opened a tin of bully beef…suddenly one of the Indians…dug his fork into the beef and took the whole piece up, and started to gnaw it. ‘Here,’ I said, ‘What the devil do you think you’re doing?…’ He stared at me and…said, ‘Mika halo quash nika,’ which in plain English means, ‘I am not afraid of you.’ 

Looks to me like Gillespie wasn’t incredibly fluent in the Jargon. Like so many Settlers, particularly the economically and politically dominant English-speaking ones, he hasn’t really gained a firm grasp on the difference between nayka ‘I / me / my’ and mayka ‘you / your’. 

  • Him solix bear stop = him sáliks bér stáp* = ‘He’s a mad bear that’s out there.’ 
    (*We don’t know the exact pronunciation of the word that everybody wrote as < stop >, even in Chinuk Pipa shorthand.)
    (Without the him, the clause would be saying ‘There’s a mad bear out there.’)
  • Mika halo quash nika = nayka hílu k’wásh mayka = ‘I’m not afraid of you.’ 

Another typical BC CW-ism is on page 82. Andrew Lazarre, chief of the Sooke tribe, buys a pig from Gillespie;

I let him have it on “tick” or “jaw bone,” as the Indians in the Cariboo used to call credit.

We find that word, written as shabon, constantly in southern interior BC Native people’s letters and in the Kamloops Wawa.

All of this is straight-up northern dialect of Chinuk Wawa here.

Bonus fact:

In my research, I’ve found that there was a pidginized version of North Wakashan in the area in the 1830s, before Chinook Jargon was brought here from the Métis-centric Fort Vancouver world. You heard it from me first.

kata maika tumtum?
What do you think?