táyí-kʰwàɬ etc.

A new Chinuk Wawa expression that I’m grateful for…


Chuck Williams’ great-aunt, Cascade Chinook woman Virginia Miller (Why-lick Quiuck), photographed by ES Curtis (image credit: Portland Art Museum)

I learned this one while reading the absolutely lovely publication “chinuk-wawa: buk 2” from the students of those phenomenal Lane Community College online courses.

táyí-kʰwàɬ would be literally ‘chief-aunt’, but it fills a lexical gap, finally giving us a word for our ‘great-aunts’.

You can define this expression (explain it to a learner) within Jargon, by explaining that she’s your chích yaka áts, ‘grandma’s sister’. Or of course chúp yaka áts, ‘grandpa’s sister’. 

And those sorts of exprssions have, until now, been the only known way to refer to this family member in any dialect of Chinook Jargon. 

I feel that this new táyí-kʰwàɬ, and the corresponding táyí-tʰàt for ‘great-uncle’, really do advance the revitalization of CJ.

These are neologisms that make it easier to speak the language, because they’re shorter and they’re grammatically simpler than chúp yaka áw (‘grandpa’s brother’) etc.

And, I argue, they feel “warmer”, conveying a level of respect for elders comparable at least with the English-language “great-___”. 

As we’d say in the northern dialect, 

skukum mamuk, leyn-skul tilikum!

 qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?