Learning from the Lane learners (Part 2)

Let’s learn some more from “Chinuk-Wawa: Leyk-Skul, Buk 2”, a wonderful magazine created by Lane Community College’s learners of Chinook Jargon.

(Download / print it for free from this link.)

I’ll add some comparative comments on how northern-dialect speakers might say some of the stuff we’re about to see.

Screenshot 2023-05-11 163806

A really lovely article starting on page 4 is titled “ɬaska palach ɬaska wawa pus nsayka nsa chaku-kəmtəks ukuk — pus alaxti miɬayt pus-kwansəm ukuk”. It’s a biographical sketch of Grand Ronde tribal elder Rosetta “Frits” Labonte Managan by a younger relative, Diane Smith. I might translate the title as “They gave their words so we could learn them — so they (the stories) might be with us forever.”

The occurrence of some dates on page 5 makes me aware that I’m not sure how folks nowadays say years like “1982” out loud. I don’t think these have come up much in my conversations with southern-dialect speakers. But I bet it’s been discussed many times in the classes that’ve originated out of the Grand Ronde education department, partly because they teach math in Chinuk Wawa immersion. And how do you say other big numbers, while we’re talking about this? I know in the northern dialect, practically ever number above 5 — with the exception of tatlam ’10’ — is a borrowed English word.

Page 5’s expression “iskam wawa”, referring to Henry Zenk’s interviews with an elder, I take to mean ‘recording’ someone speaking: literally ‘picking up the voice’. How elegant! I think we can all get a lot of use from this phrase.

On the same page we find a couple’s offspring referred to as “tənəs-tənas”, which is literally ‘little children’. A variant in this story is “tunus-tənas”. Again a very nice expression. In the northern dialect, I commonly see papoos, which also shows up in some of the earlier southern sources.

Various expressions for family members also strike me as excellent in this article: tayi-chicha for ‘great-grandma’ is literally ‘chief-grandmother’; tayi-kʰwaɬ is ‘great-aunt’. And kapxu-ats (= manaqi ul ats) is ‘oldest sister’, the first expression using the oldtime CW word for ‘elder sister’ and the second one just literally calling her the ‘most old sister’. If you want to express these things in the northern dialect, you might have to say mama yaka mama yaka mama etc., literally ‘mom’s mom’s mom’; mama yaka mama yaka ats / mama yaka mama yaka sista ‘mother’s mother’s sister’ etc.; and ilep-ol sista / ilep-ol ats ‘oldest sister’.

A useful expression for modern times is ‘divorce’, ɬuk-k’aw. That’s literally ‘breaking ties’. In the north we hear of spouses who mash yaka tloochman / mash yaka man / mash kanamokst, ‘leave his wife / leave her husband / leave each other’. 

The expression kʰa ya munk-t’səx̣ ya stik is ‘she still splits her (own) wood’ for the fireplace. In the north we hear kwanisum yaka mamuk-kut yaka stik

‘Hospital’ in this article is takta-hawswhich in the north is more likely to be said as sik-hows

A nice difference to learn is how to talk about someone’s nawitka yax̣al ‘real name’ versus their kʰəltəs-yax̣al ‘nickname’ (literally, ‘casual-name; for-no-special-purpose name; just-a-name’. I reckon in the northern dialect this is your nawitka neim & kultus neim. 

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?