1913: “Communication” about “Chocko Mika” and “Chah-ko Mika”

New news about an established community celebration in Nelson, southeastern British Columbia.

chahko mika gate

The inaugural Chahko Mika [sic] carnival in 1914 (image credit: Castlegar News)

Apparently there were quibbles about how best to pronounce the Chinuk Wawa name of this carnival.

Personally, my PNW-born English dialect doesn’t make any difference between the two spellings you’re about to read, so this is a smidgen obscure to me!

chah-ko mika


To the Editor of The Daily News

Sir: With regard name [sic] for the Nelson carnival I think that the suggestion is a very good one, but the way the words Chocko-Mika are spelled is incorrect. The words are what is known as the Chinook jargon, which was used as a means of communication between the earliest white settlers on the Pacific coast, Chinamen and Indians. Most of the words in this jargon are derived from Chinese, Indian, French and English, such as cly, a Chinaman’s pronunciation of cry; cushoo, from the French Cochon, a pig; kawpy, coffee; la bootie, French la bouteille, for bottle; moola, mill, French, moulin; ohter words such as tik-tik, a watch, have no deriviation [sic].

According to the authority of the Rev. C.M. Tait [Tate], who published a dictionary of the Chinook jargon, a copy of which I have, come and came is spelled chah-ko. From personal knowledge it is pronounced as spelt. There are a number of men, especially in East Kootenay, whose Chinook was a common means of communication even between white men, who might ridicule the name as misspelt.

          ALLAN LEAN.
     Nelson, B.C., Nov. 6.

— from the “Communication” column in the Nelson (BC) Daily News of November 7, 1913, page 4, column 3

The original spelling “Chocko Mika” won R.A. Cockle of Kaslo, BC, a prize of $25 on November 5th of that year, but it seems to have quickly been changed (possibly within days, possibly in response to Lean’s letter above) to the still-used Chahko Mika. This is nowadays the name of a shopping mall in Nelson.  

Bonus fact:

CM Tate’s dictionary is classified by the Chinook Jargon dictionary expert Samuel V. Johnson  (1978 dissertation) as a somewhat modified plagiarism of the many-times-reprinted TN Hibben dictionary out of Victoria.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?