Short response to Henry Zenk re _Kamloops Wawa_ (fwd)

David Robertson drobert at TINCAN.TINCAN.ORG
Tue Mar 9 05:55:48 UTC 1999

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2000 12:55:12 -0800 (PST)
From: Henry Zenk <psu18009 at>
To: David Robertson <drobert at TINCAN.TINCAN.ORG>
Subject: Re: Short response to Henry Zenk re _Kamloops Wawa_

Hi Dave and all,

Your response to my response, especially the part ...

> The awareness among linguists of ChInuk has been pretty low, even in the
> NW.  Few seem to have been familiar with the language, indeed.  And few
> seem to have seen it as a language worthy of study in itself.  They used
> CJ as a vehicle for communicating with native speakers of other Northwest
> languages, very often, and apparently made little record of the CJ used!
> Certainly also CJ has been seen as a non-tribal language, with all the
> associations that this status may conjure:  It's not as noticeably the
> language of a disappearing distinct ethnic group or groups -- It's not
> pure Indian, thus less potentially valuable in offering the
> anthropologically-minded a clear contrast to received, White culture.

brought various other things to my mind.

First of which being:  do you know of any linguist or anthropologist
besides Boas using CJ to communicate with Indians in the early days?  (Oh,
there was Gibbs, who I suppose should be considered one of the pioneers,
but let's stick to later scholars who have left us the bulk of systematic
data.) I've studied manuscripts of a number of the pioneers and
later biggies--Gatschet, Dorsey, Frachtenberg, on up to Jacobs, Drucker,
DeAngulo (who collected some material in Kalapuyan), Harrington, (am I
forgetting anyone?  these are of course just the ones I've checked out in
some detail)--and Boas is the only one I am aware of who ever used CJ in
his fieldwork.  None of these other workers learned to speak it, though
all collected at least some material in it.

The lack of awareness of CJ continues on down to the present.  Here's one
example, which I offer in the spirit of encouraging up and coming young
scholars to do the scholarship required to set the record
straight.  Writing in the new Handbook of North American Indians, vol 17
(Languages), Ives Goddard (volume editor) states (p. 39):

	"The Roman Catholic missionaries Modeste Demers and
Francois-Norbert Blanchet began working on Chinook Jargon in Vancouver,
British Columbia, in 1838.  Their dictionary, in which they used specially
altered type to represent some non-European sounds, went through many
printings (Demers, Blanchet, and St. Onge 1871; Pilling 1893:4, 20; Oregon
Historical Society 1956)."

This short statement of fact has more than one factual error! This could
be a Jargon quizz, Dave, but to make my point I'll give my answer first.

Anyone who knows the upper-left-hand corner reasonably well will have
spotted one error immediately:  Demers and Blanchet arrived in 1838 at
Fort Vancouver, not Vancouver B.C.  Well, that's easily enough
fixed.  There is however another error which takes some scholarship to
properly repair:  Ives conflates the so-called "Blanchet" dictionary and
the dictionary in Demers, Blanchet, St. Onge 1871.  The latter, which
far from going through many printings appeared in obscurity and remained
in obscurity, is profoundly different from the one for which Pilling
(cited above) proposes Blanchet as original author.  The
"Blanchet" dictionary (I keep the shudder quotes for good reason) appeared
first in the early 1850s, published by S.J. McCormick in Portland.  The
Oregon Historical Society (but not in the citation above, rather, as an
appendix to its PAUL KANE:  THE COLUMBIA WANDERER, published in 1971)
reprints the 2nd ed (the 1st I believe has never been located).  That
edition bears the name of the publisher and the date (1853), but not of
Blanchet.  Later editions of the McCormick dictionary incorporate Hale and
Gibbs and don't look a bit like this early version (a later edition
may be seen on the Web site given us by Jeff, the 1862--was it?--
"Blanchet" dictionary, on which, it will be noted, the name of Blanchet
appears written IN INK OR PENCIL, not printed).  S.J. McCormick was later
bought out by J.K. Gill, and the McCormick dictionary became the Gill
dictionary.  Gill was Pilling's source for attributing the dictionary to
Blanchet.  What was Blanchet's actual role, if any, in the earliest extant
version of this dictionary?  I don't know, 'cause the scholarship hasn't
been done yet ...

Well, alta nayka hilu-win, and out of time too.  Henry

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