Fort Vancouver: Salish ‘wild hops’

Advice: whenever you see a “sauvage” or sáwásh, get closer & have a careful look.

Picking Hops In Independence, OR

Pick your meaning, and an etymology (image credit: Card Cow)

What I’m saying is, when a thing in Chinuk Wawa…or any language really…is described as “Indian” this or that, you’re probably getting only an approximate meaning.

It’s always worth poking into. You’ll probably learn something mighty interesting.

Here are 3 different versions of essentially the same manuscript, originally written by Father Modeste Demers from his Fort Vancouver experience that started in 1838:

Version 1: Honoré-Timothée Lempfrit 1849:

wild hops

Tlékamaks, fruit de houblon sauvage(;) mures noires

(‘fruit of the wild hops; black mulberries(?)/dark blackberries’)

Version 2: “Anonymous” (Alphonse Pinart) 1849 (RV Grant 1946):

wild hops grant 1

wild hops grant footnote

tlekamaks ……………….. fruits du houblon sauvage, mûres (‘fruits of the wild hops, blackberries’) 

St. O[nge]. [i.e. Version 3, below] gives tlanemas(wild hops) and siapult olile(blackberry and kindred fruits). A common term for blackberry, however, is klikamuks or tlekamaks.

Version 3: Demers, Blanchet, & St. Onge 1871:

wild hops 1871

Tlanemas, wild hops.

Right off, we can see that there’s been some confusion between 2 similar-looking words in Jargon, the one that we are very familiar with being ɬíkʰəmuks ‘blackberries’.

The other, tlanemas, is essentially new to us, and it’s said to mean houblon sauvage ‘wild hops’. But what is that? I’ve never heard of native hops species existing in the Pacific Northwest, and some online searching indicates there are none.

To me, there seem to be intriguing parallels with one particular Upper Chehalis Salish word, ɬán-tm̓š ‘mint (with runners); tea (?Mentha sp.); Indian tea’, effectively a homophone of ɬán-tmš ‘measure land’. (I also looked for matches that might start with /ƛ̓/, which is the other sound that the old-fashioned “tl” might represent.) A cognate is in neighboring Cowlitz Salish, an older form ɬán-tmx ‘wild cranberry (?), kinnickinick (?)’.

I can easily imagine this latter form being heard by Euro-American ears as something like *tlantema*. In fact there’s variation in nearby Chinookan (e.g. in Clackamas) between -ma and -max for the Collective Plural suffix.

(Before we go on, I need to note that I do not think the Salish suffix -u/əs ’round thing; berry’ is in tlanemas.)

The common element among the cited tentative translations is a reference to a creeping plant, assuming “kinnickinick” = Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘bearberry’ as is usual in PNW English. Will that help us find an etymology for tlanemas?

Ending as it does in -as, this word might come from a Sahaptian language, where there’s a botanical suffix -a(a)s(h) for ‘source, place, tree, bush, patch, source for berries’, e.g. in Umatilla. But I find no similar-looking terms for any of these plants in Yakama or Umatilla.

Nor do I find potential matches in K’alapuyan, in the gigantic and valuable dictionary that was recently published.

What about the Chinookan languages? Well, in Clatsop-Shoalwater, the word for ‘kinnikinnik‘, the uva ursi berries at least, is the one that gave us Chinook Jargon ísaɬx̣ ‘corn’. ‘Cranberry‘ in Lower Chinookan, judging by Geo. Gibbs’s data, is a loan from Salish, which also gave us CJ’s suləmix. I don’t find words for the other species in question in any Chinookan language.

Putting all of this information together, I have to report that we haven’t found a single easy etymological source for the Jargon’s tlanemas, as it was written in older, pre-scientific linguistic sources.

But the closest match in both shape and meaning is in SW Washington Salish words for creeping plants that have runners or “suckers”. (Not in Salish words for berries.) Still we have to think about that ending -as, and the best match there is in a Sahaptian ‘plant’ suffix…

…And it’s eminently worth considering here that Cowlitz Salish and Northwest Sahaptin (Klickitat) historically have been in close contact. And NW Sahaptin does have that ‘plant’ suffix in a shape -as, says p. 220 of Jacobs’ grammar sketch. So perhaps Chinuk Wawa’s tlanemas could be something of a hybrid form between those two languages. Over the years on my website, I have definitely presented numerous words in Chinookan and SW WA Salish that appear to be such nativizations, going in either direction. (E.g. Lower Chinookan for ‘dog’; an etymology for ‘Cowlitz’; and so on.)

Bonus fact:

Chinuk Wawa has at least one other word that definitely denotes ‘mint’, qʰəstəkw. That’s another item reported to us by Demers, Blanchet, and St. Onge 1871. It’s a word that may have come from either Chinookan or Salish; maybe some day we will figure out something more definite about the source.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?