Sources of CJ recorded in the Inland NW/NEW TO THIS LIST

Mike Cleven ironmtn at BIGFOOT.COM
Tue Mar 2 20:20:02 UTC 1999

At 09:38 PM 3/2/99 +0000, bob rock wrote:
>Tansi Dave and List!
>I am brand new to this list.  I am a Metis from the St.Louis-Batoche,
>Saskatchewan area.  I am a writer/producer/photographer eager to learn
>more about Metis history, culture, language and traditions.

>From Batoche!  We are honoured.......(for Americans unfamiliar with
Canadian history, Batoche was the site of the most famous battle of the
Riel Rebellions).

And am I correct in assuming that you are Bob Rock of recording industry
fame?  We are doubly honoured (nsaika iskum moxt kloshe kopa tumtum)......

>Do we have any Metis "linguistic experts" on this list?
>The Metis local that I belong to would like to have the words "EQUALITY,
>DIGNITY AND RIGHTS" engraved onto a memorial plaque we are putting
>together (to honour our elders and ancestors).  Might anyone on this
>list be able to venture a Metis/Michif  translation of the words,

I've met someone in the last while who's a Michif speaker or scholar; can't
recall if it's in this listserve or someone from sci.lang; I'll have to
check my archives.

>And how might those translated Michif words differ and vary in the
>Chinook tongue?

That's a tough one; the Jargon has only some words and certain compounds
for abstractions with complex meanings; as in Michif, I suspect that
adaptions of the French or English words might be used.  Rough renderings
might be:

Equality - "ikt kahkwa konaway" (one as all), "ikt kopa ikt" (one to one)
or "ikt kahkwa ikt" (one as one) or "konaway kahkwa" (all alike).  At an
absolute level (for the terse abbreviated languages of mottos) it might be
possible just to use "kahkwa" (like, as, how), although this context would
be AFAIK a new usage for this word.

Dignity - "youtl" is "proud" or "spirited", even "happy", which seems a
better choice than "halo shem" (without shame).  "Mitlite mitwhit" is
another possibility - standing upright - and perhaps "mitwhit" by itself
would be a good choice (standing, upright, erect).

Rights - this is a real tough one; the only thing that comes close, I
think, is "law" which means just what it does in English plus the concepts
of government, rules, etc.  Nothing quite like "rights", though, and this
would be because the concept was unknown by the peoples of the Northwest
(even non-natives had no real "rights" in the modern sense).  The closest
concept I can think of would simply be "skookum" in its sense of "able, to
be able"; it also means "strong", "solid", "genuine", "brave", "honest",
etc.  Maybe Tony J. has some idea of what else could be used.

Lastly, a comment about the Metis community and the Jargon; the Jargon's
history as an intercommunal language in the Northwest was aided and abetted
by the many Metis who worked in the employ of the fur companies; their
legacy can be seen directly in the French content of the Jargon as well as
the occasional borrowing from Algonkian languages.  In a very real sense,
the Jargon was THE Metis language west of the Rockies, both in its
foundation and in its continuing usage into the 20th Century in the
"non-status" and "half-breed" communities, whose knowledge of the Jargon
was much more likely than any proficiency in any of the purely "tribal"
older languages......

Mike C.

Mike Cleven
ironmtn at

The thunderbolt steers all things.
                           - Herakleitos

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