Boas 1892: Many discoveries in a short article (Part 3: ‘to call’)

Let’s get right into our 3rd installment of the mini-series on Franz Boas’s 1892 article in Science, The Chinook Jargon“.


(Image credit: Youtube)

< téō’lak > ‘to call’

Like some other forms in the Science 1892 piece, this word is somewhat misprinted. Consider the following Lower Chehalis partial verb paradigm that Boas got from Q’lti:

tlaōʹle̳k͕[-]t(s)e̳n     ‘I call (I shall)’
(tľ)aōle̳k͕[-]e̳n     ‘he calls ()’
s[-]tlaōʹle̳k͕[-]s     ‘he called ()’

It’s really clear that the verb stem here starts not with /t/ but with /ƛ̓/, the sound that we write as t’ɬ in Grand Ronde Chinuk Wawa.

Again, we have here a Lower Chehalis Salish verb that entered CW. It’s analyzable as ƛ̓əʔ-úl̓-əq, literally ‘to fetch (someone) by voice’.

Isn’t that an elegant Native metaphor?!

It brings to mind certain expressions that we know from early-creole Chinook Jargon, like kə́mtəks kʰapa q’wəlán (literally ‘to know by ear’), meaning ‘to hear’. (As in this attempt at translating a famous Christmas poem from English.) Hmm…makes you think, eh?

I don’t find a comparable form for ‘call’ in the sister SW Washington Salish languages Quinault, Cowlitz, or Upper Chehalis, all of which use totally different verbs for this. So t’ɬəʔúləq, as we’d write this Jargon word in Grand Ronde style, is definitely another element in the enormous Lower Chehalis contribution to CW.

Standard for newer additions to the Jargon lexicon, this t’ɬəʔúləq is more precise than the words that were previously available, preeminently wáwa, which of course means ‘talk, say, ask, answer, shout, make a noise’ and so forth. There was also already hála, I believe, but that means just generically ‘to shout’ (from English holler) rather than the more directed, narrow sense of ‘to call (out to) someone’.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?