Chilcotin CJ-English mix, from another source

John Lutz jlutz at UVIC.CA
Sun Jun 3 00:23:17 UTC 2007

Hi Dave;

I am really interested in the language of communication in the Chilcotin 
too and this is my hypothesis:

The jargon is for most of BC a fur trade and language of work introduced 
from the Columbia River and then flowing north with white settlement. 
The Tsilhqot'in (Chilcotin) pretty much drove the Hudson's Bay Co out of 
their territory in the 1840s, and the Fort journals there speak of 
having Baptiste, an interpreter, which I presume means he could speak 
their Athabaskan language.

When Chartres Brew went into the Chilcotin area during the Chilcotin War 
he found that on the western edges anyway no one spoke CJ and as you 
have noted Livingstone Farrand made the same complaint in 1900 when he 
tried to do anthropology.

White settlement was late in the Chilcotin and I think that the 
introduction of CJ was late too. Formal education was also late get into 
the Chilcotin, few went to the residential school at Williams Lake and 
local schools were not established until the 1940s. As a result English 
did not become a second language to the Tsilqhot'in until later than 
elsewhere so CJ stayed the medium of communication longer than most 
places. Does that fit?

Here is more fuel for your theorizing from the central Chilcotin:

*Geological Survey of Canada, June, 1925*

When we got back to camp I was delighted to find that Henry Alexis and 
his wife had arrived with 14 horses, 12 rented to the survey ... Henry 
had killed a deer along the way and about the first thing he said to me 
was “Me saddlem horse, me see’em mowich, me shootem, me kipem, heap 
fine” ... Henry liked to talk and told us many useful things in his 
mixture of broken English, local Indian and Chinook

Hugh Bostock

“Pack Horse Tracks,” Geological Survey of Canada, Open File, 650, 19


David Robertson wrote:
> This is getting interesting.  I've just stumbled across a book some of you 
> must already be familiar with.  It's "Many Trails" by the well-known, and 
> enjoyable, Canadian writer R.D. Symons.  It was published in 1963 by 
> Longmans Canada Ltd.  This book has been mentioned a few years ago on the 
> CHINOOK list, but in a totally different connection.  
> Today is the first time I've read it, and I find Chapter 7 is devoted to 
> the Chilcotin Indian neighbours of Symons.  The time is unspecified, but 
> may be the 1920s or 30s.  Like 1890s sources I've recently mentioned, 
> Symons has the Chilcotins speaking a unique blend of Jargon and English...
> ..And it's not just any English, but a variety that shares much in common 
> with pidgin Englishes of the Pacific and elsewhere.  Just as I've found 
> among English loans in the Salish shorthand writers' Jargon, the Chilcotins 
> appear saying "stop" as a possessive (and other?) copula.  They 
> say "bymbye" / by-and-by.  Their way of expressing knowing is "savvy".  The 
> infamous suffix "-um" is on some verbs.  
> The English part of the Chilcotins' speech participates in fascinating 
> expressions I've not found elsewhere, which Symons points out and explains 
> at some length.  For example, he makes sure the reader knows the difference 
> between "cultus coulee" (traveling aimlessly) and "go klatawa" (traveling 
> to a particular place).  
> Here is a sample of remembered speech as written by Symons:  
> "One see um that Ankiti Siwash -- my hyu scare -- all he dlaid hyu 
> (extremely) tall -- he helo shirt his back; he helo mocassin his feet; helo 
> hat his head stop -- just plenty hair like bush.  Me no savvy see-um that 
> fellow before -- me hyu cumtux (guess) him Ankiti Siwash!  Me go way that 
> place all same cultus coulee."  
> (Here 'Ankiti Siwash' is said to mean the 'stick Indians', apparently 
> plural; note 'dlaid' = 'delate' / 'dret' for 'really'.)  
> Just a few quick observations, if I may...
> * Symons had not spent time in the Pacific, as far as I know, having 
> immigrated to western Canada from Britain circa 1914 and worked steadily in 
> ranching.  
> ** He had a good ear for the way various groups of people around him 
> spoke.  In his books he quotes quite a bit of Cree, French and cowboy 
> Spanish as he heard it, for example, and he also makes many specific 
> identifications of people's accents.  
> *** The similarity of Symons' Chilcotin CJ-English mix to specimens 
> recorded decades earlier in other sources suggests a fairly stable local 
> variety.  (I have a hard time calling it either CJ or English, at first 
> blush.)  
> **** Symons' spellings of CJ are really idiosyncratic, so I don't get the 
> impression he was copying bits o' Jargon out of a dictionary for some 
> journalistic colour.  
> There's more research to be done on this subject.  For now I've got a 
> hypothesis (why not) that the Chilcotin region's very early prominence as 
> an interior BC contact zone led to early introduction of Jargon, plus heavy 
> exposure to colloquial and foreigner-talk English.  Since the Chilcotin 
> held onto its reputation of 'wildness' for a long time, standard English 
> may not have made serious inroads until after Symons' time there.  
> Cheers, 
> --Dave R
> To respond to the CHINOOK list, click 'REPLY ALL'.  To respond privately to the sender of a message, click 'REPLY'.  Hayu masi!


John Lutz
History Department
University of Victoria
PO 3045 Victoria, B.C
V8W 3P4

250-721-8772 (fax)


To respond to the CHINOOK list, click 'REPLY ALL'.  To respond privately to the sender of a message, click 'REPLY'.  Hayu masi!

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