A "Jargon" of Our Own.
Some years ago, a young man came to work for me. He was hard-working, intelligent and had a sense of humor. He also had an aptitude for language. Language has always held my fascination, and since I was a child I would pick up language tidbits at school, work, the Army, the bars, etc.
I had tried in vain to develop a "Chinook Write a Letter Club." It worked like this: I would write a letter to someone in Chinook Jargon, and they wouldn't write back....
Back to my young co-worker: He spoke Norwegian and some Spanish. He would ask me how to say this or that thing in Cantonese, Japanese, various Indian tongues or Chinook Jargon. I had taken a quarter's worth of spoken Norwegian ten years before meeting this young fellow. We would try to talk Norwegian in the workplace and if we were stuck on a word, we would throw in a substitute from another language, anything but English. Sometimes the sentence might be Japanese. If we hit a snag, grab a Norwegian word or a Tsimshian or Tlingit word, etc. Anyway, this got to be such a common way for us to speak that I really didn't realize the "jargon" that had sprung up between the two of us, until he took a trip to Alaska.
My young friend was on his way to the airport and I reminded him to write a Chinook letter. He said he would, and a week later I received the following composition, which appears on the right of this page. The translation appears below.
Words that aren't Chinook or English are coded in the following manner, with the code above the word:
(J) (G) (N) (NP) (T) (H) Japanese Gitksan Norwegian Nez Perce Tlingit Haida