Didactic dialogues in CW dictionaries, Part 4D (Gibbs 1863 ex phrases/sentences)

#4 in our mini-series on paid Chinook Jargon expert George Gibbs’s illustrations of how to talk this language:


(Image credit: OU.org)

Kansih mika chahko? ‘When did you come?’
(qʰə́nchi(x̣) mayka cháku? lit. ‘when you come.here?’)

This sentence shows the same word for asking ‘when?’ that we know from even earlier sources & find in use at Grand Ronde in that tribe’s 2012 dictionary.

This same word qʰə́nchi(x̣) can be used for the “relative-time when”, as in “I’ll call you when I arrive.”

You might find it interesting, especially if you’re a learner-speaker of the northern dialect, that Gibbs also shows us another word for “relative-time when”, one that became the usual and effectively the only expression for this up north:

spose nika klatawa kopa Chinook ‘if or when I go to Chinook’
(…spus nayka ɬátwa kʰupa chinúk…)

This spus / pus is of course fundamentally the Chinook Jargon word for ‘if’, and really for any as-yet-unrealized state of things, as of the moment of speaking.

(Thus it’s also logical, from the point of view of PNW Indigenous languages’ grammar, that this word is also used as ‘for the purpose of’.)

Does Gibbs make any distinction between the 2 forms of it?

I mean, does spus mean anything different from pus for him?

Some have claimed there’s a distinction.


Because, turns out Gibbs has standardized this word, spelling it only as spose every single time:

spose mika nanitsh nika canim ‘if you see my canoe’
(…spus mayka nánich nayka kəním…)

Klose-spose nika mamook pia okook? ‘Shall I cook that? (literally, [is it] good that I make cook that?)’
(ɬush(-)spus nayka mamuk-páya úkuk?)

Hyas kull spose mamook. ‘It is very hard to do so.’
(Ø hayas-q’ə́l spus mámuk., with the “SILENT IT” pronoun)

This choice by Gibbs is one of the weirdest, most inexplicable things he does in his otherwise sterling presentation of Chinuk Wawa.

Virtually nobody else reported southern (early-creolized) Chinook Jargon as exclusively using the spus form of this conjunction.

Father L.N. St. Onge’s 1892 manuscript dictionary shows both forms.

Demers-Blanchet-St Onge 1871 have almost exclusively pus, and a couple occurrences of spus as a marginal variant.

Lionnet 1853 seems to just have pus.

Palmer 1847 has just pus.

The explanation has to be in Gibbs’s supplied etymology for his spose entry, which he says comes from English “suppose”.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?