Mamuk-chako-X as a clue to Le Jeune’s CW pedigree, with special reference to Demers’ 1863 Victoria catechism

A thousand thanks to chúp henli, Dr. Henry B. Zenk, for sharing his transcription and analysis of the 1863 document!

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Today’s post was meant to be just a quick, simple illustration of a historical link between kítsutxwa (old Fort Vancouver) and British Columbia’s Chinook Jargon.

It’s gotten to be slightly data-rich, but it’s still a straightforward point:

There’s a good reason why Father JMR Le Jeune, popularizer of the Chinuk Pipa “shorthand” alphabet among southern BC Indigenous people (and publisher of the Kamloops Wawa newspaper in CJ), used the relatively complex Causative expression mamuk-chako-X, which is otherwise rare both in BC and in modern Grand Ronde.

The vastly more usual mamuk-X Causative inflection is what we’re used to finding. Oh right, I’ll explain, mamuk-X literally means ‘make-X’, where X is some predicate (verb-ish expression).

The variant, mamuk-chako-X, is redundant; essentially, all expressions composed this way have a simpler synonym mamuk-X. So Chinook Jargon eventually streamlined itself in favour of the simpler form. It’s an interesting example of a young language rapidly evolving in the direction of easy use.

It appears to me that Le Jeune, who was a generation or two younger than his fellow missionary priests who first documented the Jargon, had learned this language in a chain of teaching that started with Fathers Modeste Demers and AMA Blanchet. So he preserved certain usages of theirs that were no longer in use around him up in BC at a later date.

Note: in the following quoted data, I’ll mostly ignore any special “diacritical” marks in the original texts.

For starters, in the earliest published data that we have, I found no relevant examples of mamuk-chako-X in the limited textual contents of Demers – Blanchet – St Onge 1871 [1838+], the “JMJ Catechism” etc. inFort Vancouver Chinuk Wawa.

Demers’ 1863 manuscript Victoria catechism, though, repeatedly uses this mamuk-chako-X construction:

  • 92 < mamouk chako kloush > ~ ‘save’ (people from damnation)
  • 145, 147, 148 < mamouk tchako ouek skoukoum > ‘causing one to become weak’
  • 164 < mamouk tchako Salix > ‘making oneself [sic] get angry’
  • 174a,b < mamouk tchako … Sahalé Tayé iaka tanas > ‘makes … into God’s children’
  • 187 < mamouk tchako dlet aias kloush chrétiens > ‘make … become truly and fully good Christians’
  • 228 < mamouk tchako kaltash > ‘makes [it] become worthless’
  • 263 < mamouk tchako Salix > ‘make … become angry’

Father LN St Onge (taught by Demers & Blanchet) in his 1892 manuscript dictionary has quite a lot of mamuk-chako-X inflections (I’ll only show one translation per expression, although St Onge provides multiple translations for several of these):

  • mamuk-chako-aias ‘rear’
  • mamuk-chako-aias-saleks ‘infuriate’
  • mamuk-chako-aias-tlush-tomtom ‘enrapture’
  • mamuk-chako-aiu ‘accumulate’
  • mamuk-chako-aiu-kopa-iht-elehi ‘congregate’
  • mamuk-chako-aiu-kopa-iht-hows ‘congregate’
  • mamuk-chako-aiu-tala ‘enrich’
  • mamuk-chako-chok/tsok ‘liquefy’
  • mamuk-chako-elip-tanas ‘minimize’
  • mamuk-chako-helo ‘nullify’
  • mamuk-chako-helo-tala ‘impoverish’
  • mamuk-chako-helo-tomtom ‘bewilder’
  • mamuk-chako-kakwa-klas ‘vitrify’
  • mamuk-chako-kal ‘harden’
  • mamuk-chako-kal-kopa-kōl ‘congeal’
  • mamuk-chako-kaltas ‘demoralize’
  • mamuk-chako-klai-tomtom ‘sadden’
  • mamuk-chako-klush/tlush ‘reclaim’
  • mamuk-chako-komtoks ‘habituate’
  • mamuk-chako-kwas ‘horrify’
  • mamuk-chako-masache ‘corrupt’
  • mamuk-chako-paia ‘inflame’
  • mamuk-chako-saleks ‘roil’
  • mamuk-chako-shem ‘abash’
  • mamuk-chako-shuka ‘candied’
  • mamuk-chako-siks ‘reconcile’
  • mamuk-chako-tkop ‘bleach’
  • mamuk-chako-tlemin ‘mash’
  • mamuk-chako-tlemin-tomtom ‘dishearten’
  • mamuk-chako-tlush-tomtom ‘mollify’
  • mamuk-chako-towah ‘burnish’
  • mamuk-chako-wek-komtoks ‘incapacitate’
  • mamuk-chako-wek-skukom ‘debilitate’
  • mamuk-chako-wek-skukom-tomtom ‘discourage’

Le Jeune (who was in part taught Jargon by St Onge) in his 1891-1904 Kamloops Wawa newspaper: in the earliest issues, mamuk-chaku (in the sense of ‘make come, bring, send, create, etc.’) predominate, whereas grammaticalized mamuk-chaku- expressions are less frequent and are largely confined to ones that St Onge lists (and these are in a Bible History serial that we know we can connect with St O). This lopsided distribution continues throughout the 13-year run of Chinook Jargon material in that newspaper. Here’s a representative sampling. The following translations into English are by me, and again I’ll show just one translation each, although these phrases occur in various usages:

  • mamuk chako ayu ‘multiply’
  • mamuk chako ilo ‘destroy’
  • mamuk chako masachi ‘debase’
  • mamuk chako ilip aias ‘magnify’
  • mamuk chako tlus ‘heal’
  • mamuk chako skukum ‘strengthen’
  • mamuk chako shim ‘insult’
  • mamuk chako paia ‘burn up’
  • mamuk chako drit klahawiam ‘humilitate’
  • mamuk chako sik ‘sicken’
  • mamuk chako kopit ‘use up’
  • mamuk chako haha ‘sanctify’
  • etc.

To my understanding, the above information is yet more evidence in the ironclad case — I think never very explicitly pointed out in previous Chinuk Wawa research — that BC CW is directly descended from Fort Vancouver CW.

In the present instance, it’s a few influential priests’ CW usage that we’re considering.

For British Columbia CW overall, the same pattern applies: this language was brought into the province’s interior, far beyond its original foothold at Fort Langley and (later) Fort Victoria, by new arrivals from America — whose knowledge of CW was strongly oriented towards their experience and the few existing publications, all of which targeted Fort Vancouver-centred usage. By the time of this expansion inside BC, that standard already prevailed across a large territory from Oregon’s Willamette Valley to the two coastal BC forts I’ve mentioned.

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