Samarin re Haida & jargon; Chinookan depopulation

David Robertson drobert at TINCAN.TINCAN.ORG
Sun Mar 28 04:09:43 UTC 1999

LhaXayEm, qhata mayka?

>From the Samarin article on an Arctic origin for CJ, a couple of points
which fit with discussions on this list:

p. 326:	"The next stage in the origin of Chinook Jargon [after a
hypothesized Sibero-Alaskan medium]...could very well have been a jargon
properly called -- one that never had time to develop into a pidgin
because of the disappearance of otters along the northern coast and
particularly around the Queen Charlotte Islands [Haida Gwaii]."

Samarin does not mention a Haida jargon, nor do other contributors to the
volume, but the above comment is of great relevance in considering one.

p. 331-2:	"In any discussion of Chinook Jargon some attention must
be paid to the number of various kinds of people who were speaking it in
any period of its history and at whatever places it was being used.
Although the present study does not attempt to address itself directly to
this question, it suggests that the female population and the children of
mixed marriages constituted a not insignificant speech community.  But how
did this community compare in size with the total Chinook Jargon-speaking
Indian population when the language was emerging as a lingua franca?
[Samarin assumes a post-contact genesis of CJ, by the way.--Dave]  It is
unlikely that we are going to find a direct answer to that question.  One
way to approach the problem, however, is by studying morbidity and
fatality in the areas where Chinook Jargon might have had its earliest
history...  The least that one should know is that the decimation of the
population was of catastrophic proportions.  Possibly before 1829 there
may have been 9,000 to 10,000 Chinooks in the Lower Willamette Valley who
had survived earlier smallpox epidemics, but 'by 1841 there seem to have
been not over 1,000 Indians left in the Willamette Valley' (Tobie
1927:90....).  Blanchet (1956:18) estimated that nine-tenths of the
Chinook population had been destroyed by disease by 1830.  (For more on
this topic see Gibson 1985).
	"With respect to the size of the population that might have spoken
Chinook Jargon we can only speculate...  Did the language not develop more
than it did because there were not enough people speaking it--in addition
to the fact that English speakers quickly came in large numbers?"

And a third topic which touches on our idea that there may have been
significant "dialect areas" of ChInuk Wawa:

p. 334:	"[Franz Boas] admits that ... (around 1933), the Puget Sound
variety, where on his own admission Chinook Jargon was used more
extensively than on the Columbia River and in neighboring parts of Oregon
and Washington, had a smaller number of words when the vocabulary was
compared with printed vocabularies (not specified)....  [I]n this Puget
Sound variety a great number of Chinook words were dropped...  Was he
implying that the pidgin, which we all believe arose on the Lower Columbia
River, had been further pidginized in Puget Sound?  Can we not also
consider the possibility that this and other simpler varieties (if such
existed) descended from the earliest pidgin, before the more Chinook-like
variety emerged?"  [Samarin wonders also how we are to account for the
complexity of CJ phonology, and suggests that the sound structure of the
pidgin became more complex as CJ spread by Indian-Indian contact.]

Note that Boas "said that he had learned Chinook Jargon in 1885 (from 'a
number of Bella Coola' [Boas 1933:209])".  Northerners...

Fuller cites for the above on request.


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