ddr11 ddr11 at UVIC.CA
Thu Jan 1 19:07:24 UTC 2004

The etymology of tolo is the Chinook Jargon (Native American pidgin of the
Pacific Northwest) /tulu/ 'to win.'  C.J. was widely known in Western
Washington state until at least the 1930's.  It had a sociolinguistic function
as in-group identifier, and I can imagine that originally the term was
/kluchman tolo/ 'the girls/ladies win,' appropriate to a Sadie Hawkins
context.  Usage of the word was quite strictly confined to Western WA, from
the Tri-Cities (Pasco, Kennewick, Richland) and the Cascades westward.  It is
absent from Eastern Washington and surprisingly from e.g. Portland, Oregon and
Vancouver and Victoria, BC.  A couple of instances from the Midwest likely
reflect migration of W. WA folks eastward.

By using Google, I've found cites from the 1940s and maybe the 30s.  There has
been a pretty good discussion of tolo on the CHINOOK list previously, which is
archived at  I've been hoping
to get a short paper on tolo written up this January and would be happy to
share it with interested parties.

If this post doesn't successfully go through to the ADS-L list, Sam, feel free
to forward it along.

Best wishes for a Kloshe Chee Cole (Happy New Year in C.J.),

--David D. Robertson
Dept. of Linguistics
University of Victoria, BC

>===== Original Message From American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Sam Clements <sclements at NEO.RR.COM>
>Subject:      tolo(s)
>In a discussion over at Straightdope,  a poster offered that he/she knew the
>term "tolos" to mean a Sadie Hawkins Dance.
>Where does this one come from and when?  (tolos)
>Another poster, who is a rather good Googler, found a cite which indicated
>current Northwest US usage of the term.

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