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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/273

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THE CHINOOK LANGUAGE OR JARGON.

Kendrick, from Boston, Americans have always been termed in Chinook "Boston men," while "Boston Illahee" ("illahee," the ground, or earth) stands for the "United States." An Englishman is "King George."

With few exceptions, the words of French origin begin with the letter l, that is, the article "le" or "la"; there is no article in Chinook except as found joined or prefixed with these French words. The following are some of the most common: "La pome," apple; "la chaise," chair; "la chandelle," candle; "la table"; "la bal," bullet, ball; "la messe," mass; "la pote," door; "la pois," peas; "diaub" (diable), devil; "marsi" (merci), thanks.

It is impossible, without a knowledge of the two dialects, Chinook and Chehalis, to say what native words in the Chinook jargon belong to each; the Chinook, however, predominates.

Many words have two or more equivalents; as, for example, "chickamen," which means iron, any metal, metallic money; with "dollar," it is silver; "chuck" stands for water, river, stream; "salt chuck" is the sea; "skookum chuck," a rapid; "solleks chuck," a rough sea. "Tum-tum" is the heart, will, opinion. "Mamook tum-tum "means to make up one's mind; "mamook kloshe tum-tum," to make friends or peace. "Polaklie" is night, dark, darkness. "Till" means tired, heavy, a weight. "Wau-wau" is to talk, speak, call, ask, tell, answer, conversation; "cultus wau-wau" is idle talk, nonsense.

Onomatopœia is frequent in Chinook. "Hee-hee," means laughter; "Kah-kah," a crow; "moos moos," a cow; "kal-ak-a-la-ma," a goose; "shwahkuk," a frog; all of these are imitations of natural sounds. These words are native, and their origin is due to the disposition to give an imitative complexion to those words which signify matters recognized by the ear, thus bringing about a similarity between the sign and the thing it stands for. But we have to do here with Chinook, not the "bow-wow theory" of the origin of language.

But few of the verbs are English, though many are formed by prefixing "mamook" to make, or do (native), to an English word; as "mamook pent," to paint; "mamook warm," to heat; "mamook bloom" (broom), to sweep; "mamook wash," to wash. It is a curious fact that neither the verb "to be," nor any of its moods or tenses, are found in Chinook. All verbs are understood wherever necessary in a sentence. There are a number of words which are used indifferently as nouns and verbs, though there are but few which are used solely as verbs.

One form of pronoun answers for the personal and possessive. "Nika" is I and mine; "mika," thou and thine; "yahka," he, his; "nesika" is we, us, ours; "mesika," you, yours; "klaska," they, theirs.