Chilcotin CJ-English mix, from another source

Dave Robertson ddr11 at UVIC.CA
Sun Jun 3 21:56:24 UTC 2007

Thanks for this contribution, John.  

So both CJ & English would've been late introductions among Chilcotins?  
And therefore both known only imperfectly for several decades?  Despite 
whatever patterns of outsider presence surrounded these folks' 
territories?  Makes more sense than my first stab at it.  

My thinking about language contact in the Chilcotin would benefit from a 
historical refresher course.  Maybe a timeline of sorts.  What's been 

I'm curious what sort of Chilcotin use of Jargon or English is quoted 
before about 1890.  It's definitely interesting that the sources for a CJ-
English mix start at that late date, and continue for so long.  

Bostock's 1925 quotation below raises questions for me.  Was the English 
part of the mix pretty variable?  ("Heap" here is like 
stereotypical 'Injun talk'; Symons conveys a South Seas pidgin flavour; in 
Kamloops Wawa we see something more like informal regional English.)  

And what's "kipem"?  Surely not from slang "kipe" = "to steal"?  

--Dave R

On Sat, 2 Jun 2007 17:23:17 -0700, John Lutz <jlutz at UVIC.CA> wrote:

>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 
>> must already be familiar with.  It's "Many Trails" by the well-known, 
>> 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 
>> 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 
>> ..And it's not just any English, but a variety that shares much in 
>> with pidgin Englishes of the Pacific and elsewhere.  Just as I've found
>> among English loans in the Salish shorthand writers' Jargon, the 
>> appear saying "stop" as a possessive (and other?) copula.  They
>> say "bymbye" / by-and-by.  Their way of expressing knowing is "savvy".  
>> 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 
>> at some length.  For example, he makes sure the reader knows the 
>> between "cultus coulee" (traveling aimlessly) and "go klatawa" 
>> 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 
>> (extremely) tall -- he helo shirt his back; he helo mocassin his feet; 
>> hat his head stop -- just plenty hair like bush.  Me no savvy see-um 
>> fellow before -- me hyu cumtux (guess) him Ankiti Siwash!  Me go way 
>> 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 
>> 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 
>> an interior BC contact zone led to early introduction of Jargon, plus 
>> 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!

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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