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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