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Words Constituting the Jargon

The number of words constituting the Jargon proper has been variously stated. Many formerly employed have become in great measure obsolete, while others have been locally introduced. Thus, at the Dalles of the Columbia, various terms are common which would not be intelligible at Astoria or on Puget Sound. In making the following selection, I have included all those which, on reference to a number of vocabularies, I have found current at any of these places, rejecting, on the other hand, such as individuals, partially acquainted with the native languages, have employed for their own convenience. The total number falls a little short of five hundred words.

An analysis of their derivations gives the following result:

Chinook including Clatsop 200
Chinook, having analogies with other languages 21
Interjections common to several 8
Nootka, including dialects 24
Chihalis, 32; Nisqually, 7 39
Klikatat and Yakama 2
Cree 2
Chippeway (Ojibwa) 1
Wasco (probably) 4
Kalapuya (probably) 4
By direct onomatopoeia 6
Derivation unknown, or undetermined 18
French, 90; Canadian, 4 94
English 67

I had no opportunity of original investigation into the Nootka proper, but from the few words in different published vocabularies, and from some imperfect manuscript ones in my possession of the Tokwaht, Nittinat, and Makah dialects, have ascertained the number above given. Some of the unascertained words probably also belong to that language. Neither was I able to collate the Wasco or Kalapuya, but have assigned them on the opinion of others. The former, also called Cathlasco, the dialect of the Dalles Indians, is a corrupted form of the Watlala or Upper Chinook. With the Chihalis, Yakama, and Klikatat, and the Nisqually, I had abundant means of comparison.

The introduction of the Cree and Chippeway words is of course due to the Canadians. None have been derived from the Spanish, as their intercourse with the Nootka and Makah Indians was too short to leave an impression. Spanish words, especially those relating to horses or mules and their equipments, have of late come into general use in Oregon, owing to intercourse with California, but they form no part of the Jargon. It might have been expected from the number of Sandwich Islanders introduced by the Hudson’s Bay company, and long resident in the country, that the Kanaka element would have found its way into the language, but their utterance is so foreign to the Indian ear, that not a word has been adopted.


MLA Source Citation:

Gibbs, George. Dictionary of the Chinook Jargon or Trade Language of Oregon. New York: Cramoisy Press. 1853. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 26 July 2016.
https://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/words-constituting-the-jargon.htm
- Last updated on Apr 27th, 2013

This page is part of a larger collection. Access the full collection at Dictionary of Chinook Jargon.

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