TENAS WAWA--The Chinook Jargon Voice Chinook Jargon Notes

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

Hello, how are you, Duane,
(H)         (T)
Hau'a, wasa'i tuit'i, Duane,

Fun birthday to you! Me forget Chinook dictionary, but me gonna try.
Hee hee birth sun kopa maika! Naika glemte

Chinook wawa book, keschi.  Naika gonna try.

Me been much busy trimming windows and shaking Doug's house. Very want me elbow adze for fitting some of this shakes, but me left him home. Maybe make new elbow adze tomorrow.
Naika been takusan busy trimming windows pe
                       (G)  (G)     (G)
shaking Doug's house.  Sem sagai dax-winst for
                (J)          (S)
fitting some of kono shakes, pero naika left
             (N)             (G)
yaka home. Kansje mamook si'dax-winst tomolla.

Me see some killer whale and porpoise, moose and two eagles making baby eagles on a light pole at Ketchikan. But, not to worry, me no see any wild man.
              (N)     (N)
Naika nanitch noen spekkhogger pe porpoise,
moose pe dos eagles mamooking tenas eagles on a
 (J)                                (T)
denki pole kopa Ketchikan. Keschi he'x-wasa,
                    (N)    (H)
naika wake nanitch ingen ku-geet.

Doug, Tita and me went across water in small boat to Le Conte Bay. Many seals and ice bergs, big mountains and many cold glaciers. Being breathtaking, that.
Doug, Tita pe naika went enatai koos kopa tenas
 (N)  (N)
baten til Le Conte Bay. Hiyu seals pe ice bergs,
       (N)   (N)     (G)
hyas fjellen og hiyu suk glaciers.
(G)      (G)        (G)
Dem lusina'hl'as, tust'a.

Me want you were here. Hap
(NP)    (NP)
Een wa'wi'look'se you were yukwa.  Hap

(Copyright © 1992 by Duane Pasco)

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