‘Heads’ and ‘feet’ of lakes in BC Chinook Jargon

Heads & feet of lakes are definitely influenced by English!

Okay, the ‘foot’ of a lake is expressed entirely in Jargon words…

salmon arm

Image credit: Shuswap Tourism

Kopa Fibrwari 19, stim kar lolo iht
‘On February 19, a train brought one’

aias cikcik, patl laplash, wik saia
‘big (train) car, full of lumber, near’

Ros iaka makuk haws, kopa iaka lipii Shushwap
‘Ross’s [or Rose’s?] store, at the foot of Shuswap’


– KW #210

Iaka lipii Shushwap Lik is literally ‘its foot Shushwap Lake’, meaning exactly the same as saying Shushwap Lik iaka lipii ‘Shushwap Lake’s foot’. (The foot of a lake being its outflow point.)

Local people in southern interior BC at the time did indeed refer, at least in English, to places such as ‘the Head of the Lake’ (which is Hid Lik in BC Chinuk Wawa, the name of a Syilx (Okanagan Salish) Indian reserve.

And sure enough, we find a number of references in local English to Salmon Arm/Chase/Adams Lake Reserve as “the foot of Shuswap Lake”.

All of this is to tell you that I believe local Indigenous readers of this article in Jargon understood exactly what was being said.

We just don’t find *lik iaka latit* — ‘lake’s head / head of the lake’ expressed in Jargon words. Only in borrowed English. Like the dozens of other expressions in BC Chinuk Wawa taken from Settler talk.

To be thorough, I should also say that this business of ‘heads’ and ‘feet’ of lakes could have been inspired by the native French of Father JMR Le Jeune. It also reminds me of how Salish languages (which traditionally are widely spoken in the same area) use their body-part suffixes to express many geographical features.

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?