Chinookers will recognize “callipeen” as a Jargon word for “rifle”–or generically for “gun”.  I’m more used to the synonym “maskit” (musket), but both are valid. Like a lot of languages’ words for this… Continue reading

Do check out It’s an extensive collection of the world’s writing systems. There’s something fascinating and eye-opening about seeing the many ways humans have invented to write their languages. I’ll have a… Continue reading

Grade-school Chinuk Wawa words?

If you were going to give a talk about Chinook Jargon at an elementary school, What would be your shortlist of grade-school Chinuk Wawa Words? I might for example go to the most… Continue reading

Reviewing a reviewer of Making Wawa

I have just read a long JPCL review of Geo Lang’s “Making Wawa” book. The reviewer lists every page where George could have cited him.  (The reviewer.) I’d like to find copies of… Continue reading

What makes western Canadian English unique?

The textbook for a linguistics course I’m teaching notes a distinct western Canadian dialect of English. For distinct lexical features, it pretty much only mentions “skookum”. I enjoyed the opportunity to expand on… Continue reading

New: A biography of Edward Curtis

National Public Radio ran an interview this morning with Timothy Egan, the author of a new biography of Edward Curtis.  It was fascinating, and it’s worth a listen. The book is titled Short Nights of… Continue reading

“Siwash ducks”

Here’s a lexical item that could only come from Pacific Northwest English: siwash ducks. This is a Chinook Jargon loanword siwash ‘Indian, aboriginal’ modifying a native English word.  It refers to the various species… Continue reading

BC Indigenous people’s Chinuk pipa script: History, analysis and texts

BC Indigenous people’s Chinuk pipa script: History, analysis and texts. This is a paper I gave at the 47th International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages in Cranbrook, BC on August 3rd, 2012. In it,… Continue reading

Chinook Jargon, and Indians, in a Washington state textbook

Lambert, Dale and Laura Lambert.  1998.  Washington: Past and present.  East Wenatchee, WA: Directed Media, Inc. This is an elementary-school textbook about Washington state for Washington students.  I invite comment on some points… Continue reading

The “Chinook lingo”

With a pidgin language, it’s perhaps more important than elsewhere to explicitly recognize the basilect. Pidgins hardly have ‘high’ forms. And they’re used in what the highfalutin folks see as pretty low places.… Continue reading