1914: LBDB’s “Chinook-English Songs”, part 4 of 15 “Hy-iu Moo-lok Mitlite”

Unusually for Laura Belle Downey-Bartlett’s collected Chinook Jargon songs, this one’s an original, not a translation of a hit.


Swag from the 1912 Elks Carnival in Portland, Oregon (image credit: Carnival Glass Worldwide)

One exciting entailment of that originality:

The following Chinuk Wawa lyrics might be of a more fluent, easy nature than the noticeably forced diction that we’ve found in LBDB’s other songs.

Let’s see if that’s the case.

I’ll mark my own translation of what the Chinook here says with my initials, “DDR”.

(Note: I’ve written separately about the text accompanying this song, telling how it was written for a gathering of the fraternal organization known as The Elks, a.k.a. BPOE.)

Scroll to the end of today’s post to see my conclusions about this particular song text.

Hy-iu Moo-lok Mitlite

háyú múlak
much elk be.there
DDR: ‘There’s a lot of elks there.’


DDR: ‘One.’

Nanich hy-iu Moo-lok mitlite,
nánich(,) háyú múlak míɬayt(,)
look, many elk be.there, 

DDR: ‘Look, there’s a lot of elks there,’
‘Attention, friends, the Elks are here,’

Kopa okoke town,
kʰupa úkuk tʰáwn,
in this town, 
DDR: ‘in this town,’

‘They’ve come to our town,’

Potlatch le-mah kopa yah-ka,
pá(t)lach límá kʰupa yaka,
give hand to her/him, 
DDR: ‘shake hands with her/him,’

‘Greet them, with a hand of welcome;’

Marsh tupso konaway kah,
másh tə́psu kʰánawi-qʰá, 
throw grass all-where, 

DDR: ‘throw grass everywhere.’
‘Scatter roses all around.’

Konaway Shunta.
kʰánawi shántey*
all sing.
DDR: ‘All sing.’


Konaway tellicum, lope mika kah-moox,
kʰánawi tílixam, lúp mayka kʰámuks,
all friend, rope your(singular) dog, 
DDR: ‘Every friend, your [“you” singular] dog is a rope,’

‘All good friends, tie up your dogs,’

Hy-iu Moo-lok mitlite town,
háyú múlak míɬayt (Ø) tʰáwn,
many elk be.there (in) town, 

DDR: ‘there’s a lot of elks in town,’
‘While the Elks are in our town,’

Klonas yah-ka marsh Moo-lok konaway,
t’ɬúnas yaka másh múlak kʰánawi,
maybe (s)he put elk all, 

DDR: ‘maybe (s)he’ll put the elks out entirely’
‘For they would surely scatter the herd;’

Spose yah-ka cooley kah.
spus yaka kúli qʰá.
if he travel somewhere.

DDR: ‘if (s)he travels somewhere.’
‘If left loose running around.’


DDR: ‘Two.’

Konaway man, pee kah-kwa kloochman,
kʰánawi mán, pi kákwa (k)ɬúchmən,
all man, and like.that woman,  

DDR: ‘Every man, and women like that,’
‘All the people in our town,’

Klosh tum-tum kopa mesika,
(k)ɬúsh-tə́mtəm kʰupa msayka,
good-heart for you.folks, 

DDR: ‘is friendly towards you folks,’
‘Have good hearts for you,’

Mitlite sahale ka-wak chack-chack;
míɬayt sáx̣ali(,) qʰáwaq chákchak,
be.there high, fly eagle, 

DDR: ‘it’s up there high, an eagle is flying,’
‘While high above us flies the eagle,’

Kwanisum nanich mesika,
kwánəsəm nánich msayka(.)
always see you.folks. 
DDR: ‘always seeing you folks.’

‘Guarding you so true.’

Konaway Shunta.
kʰánawi shántey*.
all sing.
DDR: ‘All sing.’

‘Chorus: All good friends, etc.’

DDR: ‘Three.’


Hy-iu hee-hee hy-iu muck-a-muck,
háyú híhi(,) háyú mə́kʰmək,
much laughter, much food, 
DDR: ‘(There’s) a lot of laughter, lots of food,’

‘A round of pleasure, with plenty to eat,’

Tellicum konaway kah;
tílixam kʰánawi-qʰá;
friend all-where;

DDR: ‘friends everywhere,’
‘And friends on every hand,’

Klosh alki mesika chaco kwanisum,
(k)ɬúsh áɬqi msayka cháku kwánəsəm,
good some.day you.folks come always, 

DDR: ‘some day you folks ought to come here all the time,’
‘We wish you would return to us,’

Kopa nesika illahee.
kʰupa nsayka ílihi.
to our place.
DDR: ‘to our place.’

‘And live in every land.’

Konaway Shunta.
kʰánawi shántey*.
all sing.
DDR: ‘All sing.’

‘Chorus: All good friends, etc.’

To answer the question of whether the above Chinuk Wawa lyrics benefited from being un-tied to an English original, I bet you have anticipated my conclusion —

These lyrics are pretty awful, as are virtually all of Mrs. Bartlett’s.

I would never recommend speaking Jargon like she does.

I believe she truly knew the language, and knew it well, in her youth.

But in her age, she like countless other Settlers had lost most of her fluency in it, having spoken mostly English for decades.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?