Chinook Wawa

Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Puss-Puss

PUSS-PUSS

[puss'-puss] general, [pish'-pish] Puget Sound — noun.

Meaning: A cat. Also used for cougar, lynx, bobcat, etc.

Origin: English, An informal term of address for a cat. From a common Germanic word for cat, perhaps ultimately imitative of a sound made to get its attention.

While the term for a house cat in ‘standard’ Chinook Wawa was “puss-puss”, occasionally it was shortened to just “pus”, while in some localities along the Puget Sound region it was pronounced “pish-pish”. A young kat was called a “tenas puss-puss” (kitten; kittycat), while "hyas puss-puss" (a cougar; big cat) was used for the mountain lion (Puma concolor couguar), and was even used on the Canadian comedy-drama television series ‘The Beachcombers’. This term could be conceivably used for a lynx or a bobcat, but probably in the context of a large one.

It is worth noting that the St'at'imcets and Nlaka'pamux First Nations of British Columbia used their own word for cougar, “swaawa”.

Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Hiyu

HIYU

[hi-YU'] or [hy-IU'] — adjective, noun.

Meaning:  Much; many; lots of; plenty; enough (to go around), abundance.

Origin: Nuu-chah-nulth, iyahish; Toquaht, aiya

Used with reference to quantity and numbers rather than size or degree, the term hiyu is used to describe "many", "several" or "lots of" something,

If one went to a convention or party, one would expect a "hiyu tillikum" (crowd, lots of people, a big party), and likely experience "hiyu wawa" (much talk; clamor). Even if one was “hiyu chee” (entirely new) they would reasonably expect there to be  “hyiu muckamuck” (plenty of food), or at least "kopet hiyu" (enough) for all of the "hiyu tillikums kopa house" (audience; many people in house).

Hiyu can also be modified with other worlds to show lesser degree, such as "tenas hyiu" (some; a few) or "wake hyiu" (not many; not much). Also, though the word “town” was used in Chinook Wawa, it was not uncommon to hear of anything from a village to a city described as “hiyu house”.

While less common nowadays, hiyu is still heard in some places to refer to a big party or gathering of people, as in Lillooet's one-time annual "The Big Hiyu" (also known as "The July"), a week-long joint celebration of Dominion Day and the Glorious Fourth in the Fraser Canyon town of Lillooet, featuring horse races, gambling, a rodeo and other festivities. Of a similar nature, Hi-Yu is a non-profit organization established in 1934 by West Seattle's service clubs to produce a summer festival to promote the West Seattle Community, which celebrates the month of July with the HiYu Summer Festival.

It is worth noting that some historical accounts list the word “hyo” as meaning "ten" in the early Jargon used at Nootka Sound. Some Jargon scholars believe that the words “hyas” and “hiyu” share the same origin and only one or the other may have been known or used in certain areas or periods.


Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Saghalie

SAGHALIE

[SAGH-a-lie] or occasionally [SAH'-ha-lie] — adjective.

Meaning: Up, above, high, heaven, sky, celestial, top, uppermost, over, upwards, holy.

Origin: Chinook, sakhali; Clatsop, ukhshakhali. Up; above; high.

Sometime rendered as ‘sagalie’, ‘sagalee’, ‘saqalie’, and even ‘sahhalie’ or ‘sahali’, this word was usually pronounced as if it were spelled ‘sockalie’ by Euro-Americans, while the indigenous pronunciation was closer to ‘sag-ha-lie , with the ‘g’ sound a guttural deep in the throat rather than an aspirate h.)

An adjective encompassing concepts of upwardness in direction and elevation, saghalie was used to describe action, like "mamook saghalie" (to lift / raise), as well as physical features, such as “saghalie illahee” (mountains or highland), and even natural phenomenon, such as “saghalie chuck” (high tide) or “saghillie piah” (lightning).

Zealous in their search for  converts, early Christian missionaries quickly came to learn that there was no one universal deity among the FIrst Nations. For want of a native term, the evangelists instead coined “Saghalie Tyee“ (Chief Above) as a word of ‘God’ or ‘Great Spirit’, implying a ruler over all. This lead to several other phrases, such as  "Saghalie Tyee Yaka book" (The Bible) and "Saghalie Tyee Yaka wawa" (a sermon or religious talk). Even Jesus Christ was translated as "Saghalie Tyee Yaka tenas" ( God, His Son).

As a result of its use, “saghalie” also came to mean ‘sacred’ and ‘holy’, as seen in “saghalie illahee” (now taken to mean sacred or holy ground, a spirit-place, or a churchyard, but not a graveyard, which is “memaloose illahee”). There were even occasions where “saghalie” would refer to magic of the sacred or ‘pure’ kind, or be used to describe a spirit world or a spiritual state.


Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Hyas

HYAS

[hy-AS']  or [hay-ASH]— adjective, adverb.

Meaning: Big, great, vast, large, auspicious, powerful, important, celebrated, very.

Origin: Possible corruption of Nuu-chah-nulth, iyahish  "many"

While similar in use to the word skookum, hyas generally has connotations of greatness, importance, or auspiciousness rather than outright strength or power.

"Hyas Sunday" was a term for a holiday, like Christmas or Fourth of July, and “hyas mahcook” could mean “a great price” or “something dear”, while “Hyas Tyee” refers to a high chief, a big boss, or even a king. This was also the common title used for the famous chiefs of the early era, such as Maquinna of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation.

The word can also be applied to size, such as “hyas wawa” (to shout), "hyas ahnkutte" (a long time ago), “hyas stick” (big tree/log; big/great woods/forest), or “hyas lamonti” (the high mountains).

One might exclaim "okoke house yaka hyas” (that house, it is large) upon seeing a  "hyas house" (mansion), and it would not be unexpected to find a large "hyas tick-tick” (clock) inside. It could even be duplicated for emphasis, such as in “hyas hyas lamonti” (the deep mountains; remote faraway mountain country).

In addition to its use as a general term for size, hyas could also be used to mean "very" or "very well", in which case it usually comes in front of the word or phrase it is modifying, such as “Hyas tenas” (very small) or "hyas kloshe" (very good), as in "hyas yaka mamook wawa Chinook lalang" (they can speak Chinook very well) or "nika hyas ticky klatawa" (I very much want to go).

The word also appears as “hyas hyas stone illahee, meaning the "greatest and biggest land of stones", or "the great barren high country" in Paul St. Pierre's novella Breaking Smith Quarter Horse. The context of the title is the vast and diverse inland alpine areas of the Coast Mountains, flanking the Chilcotin region of British Columbia where the action of the novella takes place.

The expression ‘High muckamuck’ or “High Mucketymuck’ is a corruption of “hyas muckamuck”, meaning "one who sits at the head table", i.e. an official, a bigshot, or a VIP. In modern blue-collar usage, this word is one of many mildly sarcastic slang terms used to refer to bosses and upper management.

Some scholars of Chinook Wawa believe that the words “hyas” and “hiyu” share the same origin and only one or the other may have been known or used in certain areas or periods.


Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Opitsah

OPITSAH

[o'-pit'-sah] — noun.

Meaning: A knife; dagger; razor; something sharp

Origin: Chinook óptsakh "a knife"

Illustrating the flexibility and poetic nature of the Jargon, the word for knife forms the bases of many other words and terms within Chinook Wawa. While a fork was sometimes called “lapooshet”, it was usually addressed as “opitsah yakka sikhs” (the knife's friend) or “opitsah yaka tillikum” (the friend of the knife), an expression also used to mean "beloved" or "sweetheart" in the sense that love "cuts to the heart", or that "every knife has its fork". In a more general sense, it also refers to the fact that a woodsman survives by his knife, therefore his “opitsah sikhs” ("knife-friend") is someone he can't live without, be it partner, best friend, or lover.


Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Snass

SNASS

[snas] or [snaws] — noun.

Meaning: Rain.

Origin: Chinook Jargon; From unknown origin, likely a manufactured onomatopoeia.

A highly expressive word for rain, "snass" is said to have rhymed with “moss”, and is the foundation for many Chinook Wawa words and expression regarding meteorological activity. One can inform another that it is currently raining by saying "snass chako", or say "tomollah snass" (rain tomorrow) if it is expected in the near future. A light rain shower outside is called  "tenas snass", while while a drop in temperature might bring "kull snass" (ice) or even "cole snass" (snow; hail). Occasionally the word "makah" would be used for both rain and snow, though this appears to be a local variant, possibly derived from the name of the Makah First Nation which makes their home on the western tip of the Olympic Peninsula. The expression for "storm" was a little more fluid, with a rain storm being referred to as "hiyu snass" or "mesachie snass", or occasionally "tamanass makah", though wind storms would be addressed as "tamanass wind" or "mesachie wind".

Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Mahsie

MAHSIE

[MAH-sie] — verb.

Meaning: Thanks, thank you, thankful.

Origin: French, merci  thank you.

Sometimes rendered as ‘masi’, ‘mausie’ and even as “masiem”, the world was adopted from French as a way of saying ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you”, or to show that one is ‘thankful’, "wawa mahsie" ( to give thanks, to praise), “kloshe nesika mahsie kopa Saghalie Tyee" (let us pray to God), and "mahsie kopa Saghalie Tyee" (the Doxology). However,  unlike French, the accent is placed on the first syllable when pronouncing the word in Chinook Wawa.

As in many languages, there is evidence in Chinook Wawa of calque, a process wherein the components of a word or phrase from one language is translated into another, preserving the direct meaning even if original source words become lost. This is evident in the expression “hayas mahsie” (thank you very much), an approximation of the French “grand merci”, both cases literally meaning ‘big thanks’.

The word saw the most use in northern British Columbia and the Yukon, and is still used in broadcast English in those areas.

Although Cascadia was never part of the French colonial claims in North America, and only one or two French ships ever visited the outer coast during the early fur trade era (the explorer-scientist La Perouse being the most significant), the French language was the main outside influence on the development of the jargon until the widespread influx of English-speaking Americans and British from the 1830s onwards. The cause of this was the important role played in the regional economy by the French-speaking Métis employees of the fur companies, including the Boston-owned Astoria Company.  The Métis voyageurs were the main contact the companies had with their native suppliers and customers, and many key words of the jargon were adapted from the patois spoken by these intrepid travelers and woodsmen. The French borrowings were more widespread in the more northerly reaches of the jargon's territory, and in other areas where the voyageurs played a prominent role (including the Lower Columbia fur trade forts).

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Demonstrating Cascadia Decolonization - Recognizing Indigenous History

Demonstrating Cascadia Decolonization - Recognizing Indigenous History

In this brief essay, contributor Trevor Owen outlines a decolonization strategy he learned while living in Australia. The practice of starting meetings down under with a “Welcome to Country” intro and sometimes presentation shifts the focus towards indigenous power and place.