Seward’s second folly

…trying to use Chinook Jargon in Alaska in July of 1902! (Image credit: Wikipedia) “Reminiscences of a War-Time Statesman and Diplomat” is a family memoir by Frederick William Seward (New York: G.P. Putnam’s… Continue reading

Koho stick

Until my dictionaries (plural) of Chinuk Wawa are published, I want every last one of you to buy the Grand Ronde Tribes’ dictionary. At $29.95 it’s a very good deal, giving you the… Continue reading

Kah, kahkah, kahkah kah

Thus quoth the Raven: Ilo kah son wiht. (Image credit: Disclaimer: It’s not totally intentional that I keep writing things you can relate to Hallowe’en. But this is America, and I know… Continue reading

Four eyes

Edited 10/16/2017 to add: Coincidentally in the local Salish languages mús means both ‘four’ and ‘eyes’! Could that have influenced the Jargon expression by making it humorous? (If puns are funny.) Did local people joke… Continue reading

It’s not just for wood rats anymore: Thunderbird speaks Chinuk Wawa

In a previous installment, we learned from Civil War general Phil Sheridan that wood rats know Chinook Jargon. (Image credit: Story of the Chinook) Today, a supernatural being in Alaska joins the conversation.… Continue reading

A Tlingit Jargon-English genre, the skookum board

When I was researching in southeast Alaska, local museum folks referred to “skookum boards“ to mean the plaques sometimes found on the fronts of Native bighouses in Alaskan Tlingit territory soon after the… Continue reading

A good point about “Boston man”

My critical arguments about the origin of Chinook Jargon’s Boston man / bástən mán for ‘American/white people’ have gotten rehashed lately. The long-accepted story has been that this expression has to do with the early… Continue reading

Carmack of the Klondike

Western gold rushes were associated with Chinook Jargon. We see bits of CJ appearing in northern California shortly after the Forty-Niners arrived from the eastern states. Those men couldn’t have known a useful… Continue reading

The Passing of a Race

Some weekend reading: “The Passing of a Race: And More Tales of Western Life” by David Williams Higgins (1834-1917), formerly speaker of the British Columbia Legislature, published in 1905 by William Briggs, Toronto.… Continue reading

Honey, a latecomer in the Northwest

As a linguist I sometimes remind myself: It’s not just new words that grow out of cultural contacts. Trade goods, too, can be potent motivators for different groups of people to communicate with each… Continue reading