Henry's followup: Early linguists using CJ w/nativepeople?(fwd)

David Robertson drobert at TINCAN.TINCAN.ORG
Tue Mar 16 01:41:13 UTC 1999

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2000 10:53:11 -0800
From: Jim Holton <jim at adisoft-inc.com>
To: David Robertson <drobert at TINCAN.TINCAN.ORG>
Subject: Re: Henry's followup:  Early linguists using CJ w/nativepeople?(fwd)

> > Was Pe're Blanchet part of that diocese, not one of the Oblates?  Don't
> > know the history so exactly.  I'd tried contacting the Oblates about any
> > Jargon-era records and whatnot a couple of times; the one response I got
> > was from a fairly friendly and somewhat interested priest in Alaska who
> > referred me to the Mother House back East; no answer.
>  Nor do I know the history so exactly, just that Blanchet and Demers
> arrived together at Ft. Vancouver in 1839 as missionaries, and both ended
> up as bishops--Blanchet in Portland, Demers in Victoria.  Demers was known
> for his CJ fluency, and of the two was more involved with
> Indians.......

According to a book, _Willamette Interlude_ by Sister Mary Dominica, 1959, Demers and Blanchet
were Jesuits.  This book is an "unofficial" Catholic history of the Oregon mission through the
eyes of a nun.  It looks like Demers got right into his work the moment he landed.  Demers was
the son of a middle-class French family of St. Nicholas, Quebec and was ordained (munk laplEt)
in Quebec 14 months prior to his arrival in Oregon.   After his ordination he first went to the
Red River Diocese and then went out to Oregon with Blanchet.  He was 29 at the time. Blanchet
was likewise from Quebec and was somewhat famous for time he spent with the Micmic and work he
did during a cholera epidemic in 1832.  The book chronicles the nuns experiance.  The nuns at
the mission were Belgian from a group called the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.  Anyhow, prior
to their departure to the Oregon mission, they were each given a little book already written
(printed) by Demers on Chinook Jargon (1842).  During their voyage to Portland they had lessons
in both Chinook Jargon and English.  Here's one quote:

"On the deck that Christmas Eve,  she recalled her first amazement at the sight of the words in
the little Chinook handbook that Father DeSmet had sent each volunteer.  And here she was,
months later, still trying to master those dreadful words.  How slowly everything was moving!"

Jumping ahead, I also have an article written by Rena V. Grant called "Alphonse Pinart and the
Chinook Jargon (California Folklore Quarterly, 1951) which contains a wordlist  which Grant
attributes, at least in part, to Demers' earlier work.  Pinart calls this piece _Dictionnaire
du Jargon Tchinouk - 1849_.  Since Pinart wasn't born himself until a couple of years later,
the 1849 probably (my opinion) refers to the date of the work he used as his basis.  Grant
remarks in her article that the Pinart's spellings are somewhat different than Blanchet's 1853
rendition of Demers and St. Onge's 1871 rendition.  She actually classifies the later two as
being English orthography while saying that the Pinart one has the French orthography.  I
mention this because I've heard in several places that Demers/St. Onge is French orthography
(definitely looks like at least a French influence on my copy).

Anyhow, I thought this "early Demers" stuff might be interesting.

LaXayEm, Jim

> .

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