TENAS WAWA--The Chinook Jargon Voice Chinook Jargon Notes

Jargon Words in Native Languages

Most native languages today are in jeopardy: in most areas, the number of native speakers is in rapid decline. There remain, however, individuals who are fluent or nearly so in several tribal groups.

It is interesting to note that in areas where Chinook Jargon has become a thing of the past and the native language is still somewhat intact, certain Jargon words have made their way into the local speech and remained in use, while the speakers are unaware of their origin.

Mahsie has become the standard word for "thanks" in Carrier and at least one other Athabaskan dialect. "Bus" (from pits-pits, "cat"), le plait ("priest"), and goshoo ("pig") are also used. Variants of these last three words are evident in many native languages. For example, Tlingit people call bacon "goshoo tai." "Tai" is Tlingit for "fat," hence "pig fat," or bacon.

Mowitch ("deer"), of Nootka origin, is commonly heard on the west coast of Vancouver Island, but I've heard Nez Perce and S'Klallam use it, as well.

The Nez Perce use capote ("coat"), and the Chehalis call white people "pa has tin," which may have originated from the Chinook Jargon Boston.

These are just the few examples that I have heard -- there are certainly more.



Many thanks to Dr. Ian F. Hancock of Austin, Texas for sharing with us a copy of an article he wrote in 1969, which appeared in a publication entitled AMERICAN SPEECH.

The article is entitled "A Chinook Jargon Loan Word in Canadian Japanese." In it, he discusses the word "saibashi," introduced into the Japanese Canadian speech by Japanese fishermen fishing in British Columbia waters. "Saibashi" is apparently a term derived from Chinook Jargon siwash (originally "saw wash"), which in turn comes from French "savauge," indicating an indigenous native.


(Copyright © 1993 by Duane Pasco)

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