Pidgin English “allsame” in Chinuk Wawa

We’ve found Chinese Pidgin English-style “allsame” a couple times in Chinuk Wawa, as a synonym of kakwa.


Our illustration is from a fictional portrayal of a Chinese Pidgin English/Chinook Jargon speaker.
CPE may have been one source of CJ’s “allsame”.

Those finds were tangential to other things we were talking about.

Let’s focus in on this fascinating word today — it’s one of several in the Jargon that seem to be from various Pidgin Englishes!

We find ‘allsame’ in association with Chinook Jargon and CJ-speaking Native people, sometimes in factual documents:

Also, it is a common remark among the Indians along the river that “Dog salmon all same Chinook salmon.”

Senate Documents 1888

It looked like cannibalism, but the old man who was superintending the stew said, “Seal! Seal all same as hog.” The Chinook term for seal is cocho Siwash, or, literally, “Indian hog,” and it quite corresponds to American pork in its universal use.

“Alaska” by Eliza Ruhama Scidmore

Iofalet, the doctor’s companion on this occasion, volunteered the remark: “When Indian die, doctor very shamed, all same Boston doctor; when Indian get well, doctor very smart, all same Boston doctor.”

“The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft: The Native Races”

Klohk-shun, the Chief of the Tagish, said “Chilkoot all same dog,” imitating the snapping action of a dog as he said so.

“Information Respecting the Yukon District”

And we find “allsame” in fiction about these same people:

‘Ta-man-a-wis,’ Great Spirit (all same Boston-man God), say to Tyee[chief] ‘go look for my daughter.’

“My First Trip to California” by Ruth Everett

“A-h!” drawled Sarah the squaw, in musical derision. “Maybe no catch him. All same jack-rabbit.”

“Red Men and White” by Owen Wister

“King Georgeman all good sport, all same fine fellows, learn Indian ways quick.”

“The Shagganappi” by E. Pauline Johnson

One issue of the newspaper Kamloops Wawa, #112 (January 1894), has this word spelled as olsim in an early (still using some Chinuk Pipa numerals!) ad for various publications from that same press. I’m quoting the whole advertisement because it contains quite a lot of wonderful Jargon to learn from:

Page [back wrapper 1]*

Iht buk: “Ankati S[ahali]T[aii] mamuk sahali
‘This one book: “Long ago God made heaven’ 

ilihi pi ukuk ilihi,” tlil iktas, kopit Shinuk. Iht tala ukuk buk = <$1.00>
‘and this world,” black clothing (jacket/cover), just in Chinook. This book is a dollar, $1.00.’ 

Olsim buk pil iktas iht tala pi kwata
Same book, red clothing, a dollar and a quarter.’ 

Olsim buk piktyurs pi Inglish wawa kanamokst
Same book, picutres and English language included,’ 

tlil iktas, iht tala pi tlun bits <$1.35>
‘black clothing, one dollar and three bits, $1.35’ 

Olsim buk, pil iktas, iht tala pi
Same book, red clothing, one dollar and’ 

sitkom <$1.50>
‘a half, $1.50.’ 

Kamlups Wawa 1892, iht tala pi
Kamloops Wawa 1892, one dollar and’ 

tlun bits <1.35>
‘three bits, $1.35.’ 

Kamlups Wawa 1893, iht tala pi
Kamloops Wawa 1893, one dollar and’ 

tlun bits <1.35>
‘three bits, $1.35.’

Kamlups Wawa 1894, patlach iht
Kamloops Wawa 1894, send one’ 

tala iht man pi msaika tlap ukuk pipa kopa
‘dollar per person and you folks will receive this paper’ 

kanawi mun. Pus drit ayu tilikom iskom
‘every month. If quite a lot of people take’ 

ukuk pipa, ilip ayu pipa msaika tlap
‘this paper, you folks will receive even more papers’ 

kopa msaika shikmin. Ilo kopa tolo shikmin nsaika
‘for your money. It’s not for earning money that we’ 

mamuk ukuk pipa, kopit pus hilp msaika.
‘make this paper, it’s only to help you folks.’


*Note, there are differences in offerings and prices between this list and the English-language one on the following page. Kamloops Wawa‘s editor, Father JMR Le Jeune, routinely asked less money of Native people.

The details I want to highlight there include:

  • the brilliance of enlisting iktas ‘clothing’ for the ‘jacket/cover’ of a book;
  • the slightly different use of olsim “allsame” here from the previous examples; here it’s an attributive adjective, modifying ‘book’, instead of the adverb meaning ‘just like’ in the above quotations;
  • iht tala pi tlun bits (literally ‘one dollar and three bits’) to express ‘$1.35’ is a wonderful survival from earlier times when the Pacific Northwest called 25 cents ‘two bits’, but 10 cents was ‘a (short) bit’…do the math.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?