1920: Volleyball invitation in Tacoma

An overly enthusiastic translator a generation after the frontier era needs a fact-check…

From a newspaper article about a challenge volleyball match between two fraternal organizations still familiar to us in the Pacific Northwest:

rivalvolley (2)



…”Hyak nika keelipy wa-wa kopa mika tzum; Halo nesika tilacum kwass kopa mesika. Pee tik-eh hyak tolo mesika tipso. Delate olo nesika kopa kokwa la-bel he-he. Pee wake lale nesika kloochman march yakso tipso, pee kow copa nesika lasanjel.”

Interpretation of the answer follows:

“The feet of our young men burn to meet the Kiwanis in contest. The chiefs and the young men of the Kiwanis Clug [sic, for Club] will be as snow before the South wind, unable to stand the strength of our warriors and the wisdom of our chiefs.

“Ere the peace pipe is smoked and the stars are new on the day of the contest, The women of the Rotarians will be tanning the scalps of the Kiwanians.                    “CHIEF KEYS.”

— from “Rival Volleyball Leaders Confer”, in the Tacoma (WA) News-Tribune of June 26, 1920, page 11, columns 4-5

The Jargon above is good. It even uses the “silent it” pronoun correctly.

But by 1920, not too many newspaper readers could fluently read it, though, so the editor got someone to provide an English rendering of it.

That person got kind of carried away playing Indian. For the record, a closer translation of what is really said is,

“I’m immediately answering your note; our people are unafraid of you folks, and want to take your hair right off. We’re really hungry for a ball game like this. And soon our wives will take off your hair, and tie it to our saddles.”

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?