1889: Amicably settled, in Chinook Jargon
The dialogue in the following incident took place in Chinuk Wawa…can you imagine it?
Sarah “Sairey” Gamp (image credit: The Victorian Web)
Speaking of imagining, Sairey Gamp is a fictional drunken nurse, from Charles Dickens’s novel “Martin Chuzzlewit”.
An elderly Siwash lady who is addicted to Sairey Gamp’s style of tea-pot, when she feels so “dispoged,” caused a ripple of short-lived excitement at the corner of Lorne and Columbia streets this afternoon. From what could be gathered it would appear that a gentleman not unknown to fame in the annals of the police court, gave the lady above mentioned a loan of three dollars and a half, and when the time came to collect the money he walked down to the swamp, where the residence of his debtor is situated, and knocked at the door for admission. This being refused he knocked the door down and otherwise conducted himself in an indecorous manner, making use of language of the same strength as the whiskey he had been drinking; and it was of the sort scientists pickle specimens with. The irate Siwash female immediately came into town, and meeting the chief of police at the spot above mentioned stated her case in choice Chinook, and shook her elderly fist in the face of her creditor. An amicable adjustment of the dispute was arrived at on the spot, and the meeting dissolved mutually satisfied.
— from the New Westminster (BC) Daily British Columbian of December 12, 1889, page 4, column 3
Interesting stuff, from my reading, particularly in the British Colonist paper 1859 and onwards, Chinook Jargon seems to have persisted in the “urban” working classes of Victoria, New Westminster and Seattle. It has likely gone largely unrecorded, but the criminal elements of these cities also appear to have made use of the wawa, Victoria had a notorious Cormorant street gangster aptly nicknamed “Capswallow”.
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Nice one, Jakob. “Capswallow” = Chinuk Wawa’s kapshwála, meaning ‘steal’ as well as getting used like a prefix before verb X, ‘do X nefariously’. (See the historical/regional section of the 2012 Grand Ronde Tribes dictionary.)
Have court records ever been used to search for specimens of the CW language? In those records, it is often important that people are quoted literally. Colleagues have found specimens of scarcely documented minority languages there.
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I’ve looked many times. Extremely scant results. I have a whole hypothesis about this. Chinuk Wawa wasn’t worth quoting with any great attentiveness, and so on — even though it was a highly necessary language for the functioning of the courts!
If any of my readers are lawyers or academics with Lexis-Nexis access, message me!