TENAS WAWA--The Chinook Jargon Voice Chinook Jargon Notes

The Barclay Sound Vocabulary

Thanks to Pat Huggins for locating an obscure Chinook Jargon work at the University of Washington library. The title is "Vocabulary of the Natives of Barclay Sound, Vancouver Island, 1861." It contains a 128-word vocabulary list and several sentence examples, some of which will follow. It was apparently collected for the British Admiralty.

When reading the introduction, written somewhat hastily in longhand, one might assume that the unknown author of this material, although he uses the term "Chinook" at the heading, was under the impression that he was collecting examples of the local indigenous language:

"I have endeavored, in compiling the following vocabulary of the language spoken by the natives of Barclay Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, to secure a faithful production of the sounds when read. . . . The vocabulary has been compiled with care and written down from the mouths of different intelligent natives. Words obtained from one Indian have been carefully compared with the testimony of others, and any defect or peculiarity of pronunciation has been immediatly corrected. The Barclay Sound language differs slightly from that spoken at Clayoquot Sound and a considerable difference exists at Nootka, but the Indians all understand the language of Barclay Sound on a greater or less degree.

"The words are carefully accented long or short, according to their pronunciation. Thus (a long) in father, (a short) in hat. I have also annexed a sketch of the different weapons originally used by the natives of Vancouver Island, which have of late years been superceded by the use of the rifle and long muskets with flintlocks traded from the Hudson Bay Company."

It's unnecessary to give the whole word list, since the definitions and pronunciation are, with the exception of a very few minor items, Chinook Jargon as we know it today. The spelling is interesting in that the letter "R" is used. It is, of course, silent.

Here, then, are some of the sentences and translations the author has provided:

Come on board, I want to talk to you.Charko copar ship, niker tikke warwar copar miker.
Come here.Charko.
Come with me.Charko canamox niker.
The word "copar," has a variety of meanings in Chinook and is frequently used either for "on," "to," or "for." In asking a question, the work "cloosh" (good) is placed before the sentence, as:
Will you come with me?Cloosh miker charko canamox niker?
Will you go with me?Cloosh miker clatterwar canamox niker?
Yes, I will go with you.No itka niker clatterwar canamox miker.
I want to come with you.Niker tikke charko canamox miker.
I very much want to go with you.Niker hiass tikke clatterwar canamox miker.
I don't want to come with you.Wake niker tikke charko canamox miker.
Come with us.Charko canamox nesiker.
Will you come with us?Cloosh miker charko canamox nesaiker?
Come and see us.Charko pee naanitch nesiker.
Come and sleep at our house.Charko pee moosum copar nesiker house.
How are you?Clar how-yah?
Have you seen my ship?Cloosh miker naanitch niker ship?
Have you seen our boats?Cloosh miker naanitch nesiker boats?
How much do you want for that?Carnt-sairk miker tikke copar ook-ook?
Have you any salmon?Cloosh miker iscum salmon?
Have you any deer?Cloosh miker iscum mowitch?
How much salmon have you?Carnt-sairk salmon miker iskum?
A shipShip
A steamerFire ship
I have seen the ship?No-it-ka, niker naanitch miker ship?
Do you know where she is?Cloosh miker cumtax car yarka mitlight?
Yes, I know where she is.No-it-kah, niker cumtax car yarka mitlight.
I want to speak to you.Niker tikke warwar copar miker.
I want to see him.Niker tikke naanitch yarka.
I want to see you.Niker tikke naanitch miker.
I want to see your mother.Niker tikke naanitch miker mama.
I want a canoe to go on shore.Niker tikke caname clatterwar copar ille-he.
I want a canoe to go shooting.Niker tikke caname clatterwar copar mamook poo.
I want a canoe to go on board.Niker tikke caname clatterwar copar ship.
I want a canoe to take a letter.Niker tikke caname copar iscum paper.
I want to trade with you.Niker tikke markook canamox miker.
Do you want?Cloosh miker tikke?
I do wantNiker tikke
You do not wantWake miker tikke
I do not wantWake niker tikke
Where are you going?Car miker clatterwar?
Where do you come from?Car miker charko?
What do you want?Ikta miker tikke?
What do you want for this?Ikta miker tikke copar ookook?
What is your name?Ikta miker name?
Where is your house?Car miker house?
Where is the ship?Car ship?
Wait here. I will return presently.Mitlight yarquah. Alke niker killippi.

(Copyright © 1993 by Duane Pasco)

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