Chinook Jargon Phrasebook

Kahta Mamook Kopa Chinook Wawa - How to speak Chinook

French Loanwords

Although the Northwest was never part of the French colonial claims in North America, and only one or two French ships visited the outer coast during the early fur trade era (the explorer-scientist La Perouse being the most significant), the French language was the main outside influence on the development of the jargon until the widespread influx of English-speaking Americans and British from the 1830s onwards.  The cause of this was the important role played in the regional economy by the French-speaking Métis employees of the fur companies, including the Boston-owned Astoria Company.  The Métis voyageurs were the main contact the companies had with their native suppliers and customers, and many key words of the jargon were adapted from the patois spoken by these intrepid travellers and woodsmen.  The French borrowings were more widespread in the more northerly reaches of the jargon's territory, and in other areas where the voyageurs played a prominent role (including the Lower Columbia fur trade forts).  Words for items of trade or for introduced domestic items (e.g. table, door, fork), and terms for religion, were nearly invariably of French origin in these areas (except for the term for the Divinity, a concept which was pre-extant in the region prior to Contact).  Natives usually adapted the French words by including the definite article as an integral part of the word, reflecting the many situations in French syntax where the article is used with the noun.  The language of the Métis as it is spoken in the Plains and Prairies is known as Michif, and is an Ojibway-French hybrid that probably shares many of these same words.  I have heard rumours of a Michif language resource coming on-line sometime this year, and will link to it from here when this becomes possible.  In reviewing the etymologies in the published lexicons, it has occurred to me that the Chinook forms of the loan-words show their origin among the Métis, and in some cases where Gibbs and others have not been able to identify the etymology exactly, this is because they were unfamiliar with Canadian French and its Métis offshoot, as opposed to the formal continental French more familiar to American scholars.  I have noted these instances or possibilities where they have presented themselves to me.  I should also comment that French transliterations of Chinook - Father Lejeune's in particular - may appear to describe different pronunciations than those in Gibbs, Shaw, et al., and while to some extent this may be true I suspect that the different spellings employed by Lejeune are the result of French-influenced orthography just as much as they are of regional differences in and influences on pronunciation.  Also, French speakers would necessarily pronounce jargon words (especially French loan-words) differently than would natives or English-speakers or others.
 
Words here are grouped by types of objects or concepts, rather than alphabetically.  French-spelling accents and circumflexes will be added later (once I figure out all the HTML codes for same).
 
French words borrowed into the Chinook Jargon.
Lalang - tongue, language, from la langue
Lapel - skin, a hide, a fur, from le piel
The English loan-word skin was also used, probably more in reference to human skin than animal skins.
Lacope - coat, from le capot or le capeau
Possibly from "la coat" (i.e. French-English hybrid) or from le corps (the body, i.e. a garment for the whole body); either of these derivations may be of Metis origin.  A cope in English is an ecclesiastical mantle, sort of a short cloak approximately waist-length.
Capo - coat, from le capeau
Seapo - hat, from le chapeau
Latuk - a woolen cap, from la tuque
Without the French article, tuque or took (as in kook) is a common word in English throughout Canada.
Siwash, sawash - Indian, usually a male Indian, from Fr. le sauvageNB In native usage, sawash is preferred and siwash is perceived as derisive, which it also commonly is in NW English, when still used. Sawash preserves the vowels and rhythm of the original French. Siwash was also mistakenly used as the name of the tribe(s) in the region, which it is not, as in "Siwash Indians", which is actually redundant

Sel - salt, from le sel
The English loan-word salt was also used.
Suk, lesuk - sugar, from le sucre
The English loan-word shugah or shukwah was also used.
Latab - a table, from la table
Lashase - a chair, from la chaise
Lapooshet - fork, from la fourchette
Lassiet, lasset - plate, from l'assiette

Lapote - door, from la porte
Lakley, lakleh - key, from le clef
NB different from lekliss, church, from l'eglise
Lacaset, lacasset - box, from la cassette
Lesac, lesak - sack, bag, from le sac
Laswah, lasway - silk, silken, from la soie
Lawest - vest, from la veste
Leloba - ribbon, from le ruban
Leseezo - scissors, from le ciseau
Lapoel - pan, frying pan, from la poele
Lapellah - to roast (over a fire), if from French, then le foyer or le four
Lahash - axe or hachet, from la hache
Lapelle - shovel or spade, from la pelle
Lapeosh - mattock or hoe, from la pioche
Lashaloo, lashalee - a plough, from la charrue
Lalim, laleem - a file, from la lime
Lasee - a saw, from la scie
Laplash - board, plank, from la planche.
If as in French, would also mean "floor", or specifically "floorboards".
Lekloo, lakloo - nail, from le clou
Lamahto - hammer, from le marteau
Lagwin, lakween - a saw, specifically a handsaw with a narrow blade tapering towards a point, used in carpentry, from Fr. l'égoïne.   Prof. Barbara Harris of the University of Victoria devoted a whole paper to the discussion of this word's various misadventures in NW usage.
Labooti - bottle, from la bouteille
Lapeep, lepeep - pipe, as in a smoking pipe, from la pipe
Lagom - pitch, gum, from la gomme
Used in the making and repair of water craft such as canoes, York boats, and ships
Laselle - saddle, from la selle. NB Opoots laselle - breechclout, breech-cloth.
Lablide - bridle, from la bridle
Lapishemo - the saddle-blanket and trappings of a horse.
 Since writing the following sentences, a discussion in the CHINOOK mailing list has determined that this word is actually of Algonkian origin..  I am unsure of the French source-word here, although chameau (camel) seems to be a part of it.  On further thought, the standard Canadian French contraction of petit is p'ti, sometimes further contracted to ti or pi.  Therefore, the source term here would have been le petit chameau - "little cloak" (i.e. a saddle blanket et al.) - and an alternate form may have been letishamo - the p-t transposition being not uncommon in Chinook.
Leseeblo - spurs, from les eperons
Sitlay, sitliay - stirrups, from les etriers
 
 

Lapiege (pron. lapee-ezh) - trap.  Eena lapiege - beaver-trap.  From le piège.
Lasanjel - belt, sash, girdle, from la cingle
I am uncertain as to whether this refers to the sash that is the hallmark of the voyageur, or to the priestly girdle of a cleric; it may refer to both.
Lashandel - candle, lamp, from la chandaille, la chandelle
Lashen - chain, from la chaine
NB also known to be used for "dog", from le chien
Lapan - bread, from le pain
Gibbs says this refers to raised or light bread, as opposed to hardtack or other types.  I am uncertain, however, as to whether the bread referred to by this word may be bannock, which was the staple of the French-speaking voyageurs of the fur trade era and has since become a staple of native peoples throughout British Columbia.  Bannock (the word is Scots in origin) is a virtually deep-fried bread made in a frying pan with flour, water, and salt (and, of course, lots of oil).
Lawen - oats, from l'avoine
Lashey, larch - barley, from la siegle; not sure what larch comes from, unless it's just a corruption of la siegle.
Labiskwee - biscuit, from le biscuit
Lapom - apple, from la pomme
Apples were introduced into the Northwest early on into the 19th Century, both coastal and plateau regions being ideal climates for temperate fruits. I have not seen other Chinook words for fruits, but if any were used they probably would have been French loanwords, as cherries, apricots, peaches and other fruits were planted widely in the Oregon Territory, and then later in BC. I suspect that fruit and fruit trees may have been trade goods during the fur trade era, accounting for a French origin for the word for "apple", rather than an English one.
Lacalat - carrot, from la carrotte
Lepwah - peas, from les pois
Lapool - chicken, fowl, poultry, from la poule
Lecock, lakok - rooster, cock, from le coq
Lezep, lesap - eggs, from les oeufs
Lakutchee, lakwitchee - clams, from la coquille.
Lakamass - the camas lily and its root, a major food source
This is a French-Chinook hybrid from the addition of the French article to the native noun, indicating a familiarity with the plant among the voyageurs.
Latay, lateh - tea, from la the
The English loan-word tee was also used.
Melas - molasses, from la melasse
An unusual French loan-word in that, like sel and suk it does not include the definite article as part of the word as other Chinook borrowings from French do.
Suk - sugar, from le sucre.
The English loan-word shugah was also used.
Tabak - tobacco, from le tabac
The English loan-word tobacco and Chinook loan-word kinootl or kinoos were also used.  Tabac is originally a Taino or Sarawak word, I believe.
Lahb - used for another smokeable substance, the leaves of the arbutus species uva ursi (bear berry), from l'herbe or l'arbre.
Pish - fish, from la peche
Obviously this is just as much potentially an English loan-word from the f-p change common in native adaptions of English words, but I think it is of combined English-French origin; the English and French words would have sounded similar to native ears anyway.  NB Pish is also "fire".
Moola, moolah - mill, from le moulin
The latter syllable may or may not be accented. This word may be the origin of the English slang meaning of "moolah" as "money", as mills are even today equated with income in the Northwest, i.e. "the smell of money", as the saying goes.
Kalapeen, calapeen - rifle, from carabine
Also considered an English loan-word, although occurs in Russian and French as well.
Huy-huy, hui-hui - apparently from oui, oui.  To bargain, to deal, to barter
The origin of this word's Jargon context is inventively novel - the use of the phrase oui, oui to conclude a deal being adopted into the Jargon as the generic word for bargaining or doing trade.  The words mahkook, mahsh, etc. acquired specific meanings of buy, sell, etc., but huy-huy always carried an open meaning referring to dealings in general.

Lamah, lemah, lehmah - the hand, from le main
Also kloshe lamah - right, the right hand ("the good hand").  Potlatch lamah - shake hands
Lajam - the leg, from la jambe
Lepee, lapieh - the foot, from le pied
Lam, lahm - the arm, from l'arme.
Note that the actual French word here is le bras, but that the jargon has combined a French article with an English word; the French term l'arme actually means "the weapon". NB difference from laham or lahahm - oar.
Laboos, lapush - the mouth, from la bouche.
There is a town in Washington State named Lapush.
Lalang - the tongue, language, from la langue
Latate, latet - the head, the top, from la tete
Le cou, lecoo - the neck, from le cou
Ledoo, ladoo, ladwah - finger, from le doigt.  This, as Ledoo, is a family name in the Lillooet area, although this may also come from the family name LeDoux. Ledoo or ladoo would seem to come from French Canadian usage, rather than the proper French le doigt.
Letah - teeth, from le dent and les dents

Moose - moose
Actually a Cree word, the plural of which is moosoutch, this is generally considered to be an English loan-word introduced by the voyageurs.  If it were introduced by French-speakers also familiar with Algonkian tongues, however, it should thus perhaps be considered a French loan-word.  The actual French word is elan, or more properly l'elan.
Lelou - wolf, from le loup
Lamel - mule, from le mulet.
I am uncertain of the French source-word here. le mulet is given in one of the sources (Shaw, I think) but specifically means a male, la mule being a female and the more obvious source of the term (female mules were a bit easier to get along with if I recall correctly).  The word burdash, from arch. Fr. berdache, was also used for mules and other hermaphroditic creatures, e.g. burdash moos-moos, steer.
Lemooto - sheep, mutton, from le mouton
Lashen - dog, from le chien
Cosho, gosho, goosie, logosho, locosho - pig, pork, from le cochon
Lablow, leblau - a sorrel horse, chestnut-coloured, from le blond.
Also as an adjective for blond or chestnut-colour.
Laclem, leklem - a cream-coloured or light dun horse, from la creme.
Also as an adjective for the cream-colour.
Lagley, laglee - a gray horse, from le gris.
Also as an adjective for the colour grey.
Lekye, lakai, lekay - a piebald or spotted horse, i.e. a palomino or an appaloosa, from la caille.
Also used in the jargon to refer to the speckled salmon, or dog salmon.
Sandelie, sandelee - a roan-coloured horse, from cendre, or from English sandy.
Also used as an adjective for roan or ash-colour.
Burdash - hermaphrodite, gelding, from berdache, arch. Fr. from Arabic bardaj. for slave, entering European languages via Moorish Spain, originally from Old Iranian varta ("seized, prisoner").  There is an interesting explanation of the history of this term and the phenomenon associated with it at http://www.geocities.com/westhollywood/stonewall/3044/berdache.html.
 
 
 

Lekliss - the church, from l'église. Probably also used to mean the church, i.e. the institution of the Catholic Church.  NB different from lakley, lakleh for key, from le clef.
Lacloa- the cross, from le croix
Lejaub, also jaub and yaub - the devil, from le diable.  Also hyas lejaub - great devil, big devil, i.e. The Devil.  Could be used as a derisive, e.g. Boston lejaub, devil American.
Laplet - priest, from le pretre. I haven't seen seen lepap, from Fr. le pape, for pope, but it seems likely, and perhaps occurs in the Kamloops Wawa.
Lamess, lamesse - the mass, from la messe
Lamedsin, lametsin, lamestin, lamotchin - doctor, medicine, from le medicin.  Can also mean priest.   Note that common the British prononciation of medicine is "medsin".
Lammieh, lummieh, lummi - old woman, from la vieille
Papa - father, from papa.
Also an English loan-word.
Mama - mother, from maman.
Also an English loan-word.
Bebe - baby, also kiss, from le bebe and perhaps baiser.  NB also note difference from by-by, which means soon, in the near future, from the 19th C. English expression in the by and by, i.e. rather than meaning good-bye or baby.  The word tenas or tenass, meaning small or little, was also used to mean children or infants; pron. tunus or dunus in the Lower Columbia and Grand Ronde OR when used to mean children.

Laboat - a boat
NB distinct from canim (canoe) or ship (ship).  The type of boat referred to here would be the York boat, the giant canoe-type freight vessel used by the Hudson's Bay and Northwest companies throughout the continent, but this probably would have become a generic term for items such as rowboats, dorys, etc. that came into use on BC's many lakes.  I think the reason the term is not labato (from le bateau) is that the voyageurs had adopted the English word in reference to their company work-boats, but would have used it with the French definite article.
Laham, lahahm - oar,  from la rame
NB distinct from isick (paddle).  Mamook laham - to row. NB distinct from lahm - the arm, from l'arme.
Lapehsh - a pole, the sitting-pole of a boat or canoe, from la perche ("the perch")
Delate - straight, straight on, truly, without equivocation, from droit - but probably from Norman French "drette", standard French "droite" (fem. of "droit", straight); Canadian French is heavily Norman in origin. This would properly be tout droit or toute droite (or toute drette) in French, droit meaning "right" in both the directional and legal senses.  NB Klatawa delate - go straight.  Delate wawa - tell the truth ("speak straight").
Laplash - wide, broad, from la plage (beach) or la planche (board or floor).  Also used for a wooden plank, or a floor.
Lawet, lawhet - whip, from le fouet
Or a Metis French-English hybrid, "le whip".
Lamonti, lamoti - mountain, mountains, from la montagne
Tanse - dance, from danser and la danse
Also an English loan-word, from dance., but it's likely that it was the voyageurs who first introduced this word.
Chantie, shantie, shauntie - sing, song, from chanter
Also an English loand-word from shanty, the origin of which is also French.  I think the French-style prononciation shauntie would probably have been older, the English-style prononciation shantie becoming more common later in the 19th Century when French-speaking influence in the region would be "wearing off".
Cooley - to run, to hurry, from coulir or courir.  Coulir means to pour, courir means to run.  This word may also be a borrowing from the English coolie, for labourer, which is originally Hindi.
Coulee - from coulir.  A dry wash or riverbed, or the canyon or cliffs left behind by erosion over a river or stream
Not strictly speaking a jargon word, as it was coined on the Prairies by the voyageurs, but one familiar in the region, especially in the name of Grand Coulee, a gorge-like formation on the Columbia just south of its convergence with the Okanagan.
Mahsh - from marcher (to do, to walk, to operate, etc.).  To leave, turn out, throw away, to depart, to remove, to dispose of
This word had a wide variety of uses in the Jargon, not all of which are easy to recount; in general it lost its French contexts of to do, to walk, to work/operate, and carried the sense of to dispose of, to throw away, etc.  See Other compounds in the Verbs & Concepts page.
Mahliay - to marry, from marier.
The English loan-word mahlie (marry) was also used.
Laball, labool - ball, a ball-game, also a bullet or shot-ball, from la boule
Also an English-French hybrid, "la ball", as also occurs in Canadian French
Tintin - bell, church bell, alarm clock, from le tintin

Lemolo - crazy, stupid, wild, untamed, from le moron
Claimed by Gibbs to be a corruption of le marron, for a runaway black slave (maroon in archaic English).  He also says it was used to apply to men and animals alike, and would be used for tribes which had had little contact with colonial settlements.
Piupiu, pew-pew - to stink, to smell, poss. from puer (to stink)
Same idea as the English loan-word/onomatopaeoia humm, but of French-type origin rather than English or onomatopoeia  The same word is present in English as "pew!" or "phew", and could just as easily have come to the jargon from French via English as directly from French.
Poolie - rotten, from pourri
Polallie - flour, powder, possibly from poudre
Gibbs notes that there is no native language in the region with a similar word, other than sapolill (flour) or sapolallie - soapberry).
Pe, Pee, Pi - a conjunction - and, than, but, or, etc., from puis, which in French Canadian and Metis dialects is "pi".

And last but not least:
Mahsie - thank you, mercy, from merci

See also English & Other Loanwords

 

French source-words

I'll alphabetize this section for ease of use, without regard to the presence of the definite article as I believe is customary in French dictionaries.  Please feel free to correct me if I've got gender or translations or idioms wrong, or may have missed some useful connotations or have misplaced an alphabetization.
 
A    B  C   D   E   F  G    H  J   L   M   O  P    R  S   T   V

 

l'arbre - Lahb - used for another smokeable substance, the leaves of the arbutus species uva ursi (bear berry).  Also perhaps from l'herbe.  Not known to be used for tree, the word for which was the English loan-word stick.
l'arme - Lam, lahm- the arm. Note that the actual French word here is le bras, or les bras, but that the jargon has combined a French article with an English word; the French term l'arme actually means "the weapon" (?); perhaps in archaic or Canadian French it may mean "arm"; I'm not sure. NB difference from laham or lahahm - oar.
l'assiette - Lassiet, lasset - plate.
l'avoine - Lawen - oats.

baiser - Bebe - baby. Papoose, an Algonkian loanword, was also in use and probably entered the Jargon via American pidgins used to speak to Indians, rather than directly from Algonkian speakers or Metis voyageurs.  NB it is perhaps only speculative that Bebe comes from Fr. baiser, to kiss. NB also note different from by-by, which means soon, in the near future, from the 19th C. English expression in the by and by, i.e. rather than meaning good-bye or baby.  The word tenas or tenass, meaning small or little, was also used to mean children or infants; pron. tunus or dunus in the Lower Columbia and Grand Ronde OR when used to mean children.
la ball - Laball - ball, a ball-game, also a bullet or shot-ball; possibly from an English-French hybrid, "la ball", as also occurs in Canadian French.  Also occurs as labool, from la bouleMamook laball, mamook laboule - play ball.
le bébé - Bebe - baby.  Papoose, an Algonkian loanword, was also in use and probably entered the Jargon via American pidgins used to speak to Indians, rather than directly from Algonkian speakers, rather than directly from Algonkian speakers or Metis voyageurs.  NB Bebe can also mean kiss, from Fr. baiser.  NB also note different from by-by, which means soon, in the near future, from the 19th C. English expression in the by and by, i.e. rather than meaning good-bye or baby.  The word tenas or tenass, meaning small or little, was also used to mean children or infants; pron. tunus or dunus in the Lower Columbia and Grand Ronde OR when used to mean children.
la berdache - Burdash - hermaphrodite, gelding, mule from la berdache (arch. Fr).  Burdash moos-moos - steer; burdash kiuatan - gelding, etc.  from Arabic bardaj. for slave, entering European languages via Moorish Spain, originally from Old Iranian varta ("seized, prisoner").  There is an interesting explanation of the history of this term and the phenomenon associated with it at http://www.geocities.com/westhollywood/stonewall/3044/berdache.html.
le blond - Lablow, leblau - a sorrel horse, a chestnut-coloured horseAlso as an adjective for blond or chestnut-colour.
la bouche - Laboos, lapush- the mouthThere is a town in Washington State named Lapush.
la boule - Labool- ball, a ball-game, also a bullet or shot-ball, from la boule. Also as laball from an apparent English-French hybrid, "la ball", as also occurs in Canadian French.  Mamook laball, mamook laboule - play ball.
la bouteille - Labooti - bottle.
le biscuit - Labiskwee- biscuit.
la bride - Lablide - bridle.

la caille - Lekye, lakai, lekay - a piebald or spotted horse, i.e. a palomino or an appaloosaAlso used in the Jargon to refer to the speckled salmon, or dog salmon.  The other adjective in use for spotted was tzum, as in tzum paseese, calico., which also became chum, a name for dog salmon in BC English .
le capeau - Lacope - coat, or cape, also perhaps from le capot.  Possibly from "la coat" (i.e. French-English hybrid) or from le corps (the body, i.e. a garment for the whole body); either of these derivations may be of Metis origin.  Capot is Canadian French, meaning winter coat. In French, it's capote, related to Italian capotto - overcoat.
le capot  - Lacope - coat, also perhaps from le capeauCapot is Canadian French, meaning winter coat. In French, it's capote, related to Italian capotto - overcoat.
le carabine - Kalapeen, calapeen - rifle.  Also considered an English loan-word, although occurs in Russian and French as well.  Please correct me if this noun should be feminine in French; I'm not sure.  Rifles were present in the Northwest from the earliest days of the fur trade, even in the Interior before the advent of white men there; Simon Fraser noticed Russian rifles among the Lillooet (St'at'imc) people; hence this may be a Russian loan-word, or even perhaps a Spanish one, though ultimately French in origin.
la carrotte - Lacalat - carrot.
la cassette - Lacaset, lacasset - box.
le cendre - Sandelie, sandelee - a roan-coloured horse, from , or from English sandy. Also used as an adjective for roan or ash-colour.  Again I may not have the gender of this noun correct; please email me with any corrections.  As with melas, this is another French loan-word where the definite article did not become part of the Jargon form.
la chandaille - Lashandel - candle, lamp.
la chandelle - Lashandel - candle, lamp.
le chapeau - Seapo - hat, from le chapeau
la chaîne - Lashen - chain. NB also known to be used for "dog", from le chien.
la chaise - Lashase - a chair.
chanter - Chantie, shantie, shauntie - sing, or song, from chanter.  Also an English loand-word from shanty, the origin of which is also French.  I think the French-style prononciation shauntie would probably have been older, the English-style prononciation shantie becoming more common later in the 19th Century when French-speaking influence in the region would be "wearing off".  Also mamook shantie.
la charrue - Lashaloo, lashalee - a plough.
le chien Lashen - dog.  NB also known to be used for "chain", from le chaine.  Dog and kamooks were also used for dog.
la cingle - Lasanjel - belt, sash, girdle.  According to a contributor, this attribution is incorrect; proper French is le sangle; la cingle is given in one of the sources. I am uncertain as to whether this refers to the sash that is the hallmark of the voyageur, or to the priestly girdle of a cleric; it may refer to both.
le ciseau, les ciseaux - Leseezo - scissors.
le clef - Lakley, lakleh - key. NB different from lekliss, church, from l'eglise.
le clou - Lekloo, lakloo - nail, tack. Not a fingernail, but a nail as in construction.
le cochon - Cosho, gosho, goosie, logosho, locosho - pig, pork.  NB also siwash cosho - Indian pig - for seal (Fr. la/le focque).
le coq - Lecock, lakok - rooster, cock.
la coquille - Lakutchee, lakwitchee - clamsLakutchee may also be of native origin. If from French, must be dialectal - in some dialects k becomes palatalized before a front vowel. Standard French would have given lakukee (or lakookee)
le cou - Le cou, lecoo - the neck.
coulir - Cooley - to run, to hurry.Coulir means to pour or to flow, courir means to run.; either one seems possible as the origin of the loan here, although there have been other theories as to the origin of this word, which may be native in origin also.  This word may also be a strange borrowing from the English coolie, for labourer, which is originally Hindi despite being mostly known in English in reference to the Chinese.  NB kiuatan yaka kumtux cooley - racehorse ("horse who knows how to run") and man yaka kumtux cooley (runner, messenger, "man who knows how to run").  Coulir is also the source of coulee, a dry wash or riverbed, or the canyon or cliffs left behind by erosion over a river or stream.  Coulee is not strictly speaking a jargon word, as it was coined on the Prairies by the voyageurs, but one familiar in the region, especially in the name of Grand Coulee, a gorge-like formation on the Columbia just south of its convergence with the Okanagan.
courir - Cooley - to run, to hurry. Courir means to run, coulir means to pour or to flow; either one seems possible as the origin of the loan here, although there have been other theories as to the origin of this word, which may be native in origin also. This word may also be a strange borrowing from the English coolie, for labourer, which is originally Hindi despite being mostly known in English in reference to the Chinese.
la crème - Laclem, leklem - a cream-coloured or light dun horseAlso as an adjective for the cream-colour.
le croix - Lacloa- the cross.

la danse - Tanse - dance. Also mamook tanse, perhaps mamook latanse.  Also an English loan-word, from dance., but it's likely that it was the voyageurs who first introduced this word.  Perhaps can mean either dance, as in a social occasion, or to dance.
danser  - Tanse - dance. Also mamook tanse, perhaps mamook latanse.  Also an English loan-word, from dance., but it's likely that it was the voyageurs who first introduced this word.
les dents, le dent - Letah - teeth, tooth.
le diable - Lejaub, jaub, yaub - the devil.  Also hyas lejaub - great devil, big devil, i.e. The Devil.  Could be used as a derisive, e.g. Boston lejaub, devil American, damned Yankee.
le doigt - Ledoo, ladoo, ladwah - finger.  This, as Ledoo, is a family name in the Lillooet area, although this may also come from the family name LeDoux. Ledoo or ladoo would seem to come from French Canadian usage, rather than the proper French le doigt.
droit - Delate - straight, straight on, truly, without equivocation, extremely etc. - probably from Norman French "drette", standard French "droite" (fem. of "droit", straight); Canadian French is heavily Norman in origin.  This would properly be tout droit or toute droite in French, droit or droite (or drette) meaning "right" in both the directional and legal senses.  NB Klatawa delate - go straight. Delate wawa - tell the truth ("speak straight").  I have tried to consider other possible French sources for this term, from the formula "de - ...." but can't think of any.  Please notify me if something else occurs to you.  It's occurred to me that le droit (the law, the right of rule) would have been an awkward loan-word, given the use of ledwa for finger (from le doigt)Nawitka, a Chinookan expression, was also used to mean truly, without equivocation, extremely, etc.

l'église - Lekliss - the church.  Probably also used to mean the church, i.e. the institution of the Catholic Church. NB different from lakley, lakleh for key, from le clef.
l'égoïne - Lagwin, lakween - a saw, specifically a handsaw with a narrow blade tapering towards a point, used in carpentry.   Prof. Barbara Harris of the University of Victoria devoted a whole paper to the discussion of this word's various misadventures in NW usage.
les épérons - Leseeblo - spurs.
les étriers - Sitlay, sitliay - stirrups.

le fouet - Lawet, lawhet- whip.  Or a Metis French-English hybrid, "le whip".  Normally f => p in the Pacific Northwest, such that a pure French loan-word would have been lapwet, but this was unrecorded.
la fourchette - Lapooshet - fork. Also used, in theory, was opitsaht yaka sikhs - "the knife's friend"
le four - Lapellah - to roast (over a fire), if from French.
le foyer - Lapellah - to roast (over a fire), if from French.

la gomme - Lagom - pitch, gum.  Used in the making and repair of water craft such as canoes, York boats, and ships
le gris - Lagley, laglee- a gray horseAlso as an adjective for the colour grey.

la hache - Lahash, la'ash, lash - axe or hachet.
l'herbe - Lahb - used for another smokeable substance, the leaves of the arbutus species uva ursi (bear berry).  Also perhaps from l'arbre .

la jambe - Lajam - the leg.  The native-origin word teawhit was also used, probably incorporating a hand gesture to distinguish the other possible meaning of foot..

Là-là - Lolo - to carry, to pick up, to load, to portage.  NB This is my own speculation on the origin of the Chinook word lolo, for carry, haul, load.  I worked on French-language construction and kitchen jobs in Whistler BC, where Quebecois were a common part of the local community in the '80s (as they probably are now).  When I came across the Jargon word lolo, it struck me that there was a relation to a usage I'd heard of the form "passe-moi la mat la, la, la-la-la", i.e. "pass me that hammer there, that one, that one there".  It's easy to imagine voyageurs instructing native helpers "unload that stuff from the canoe, that stuff, that stuff there, there, there, there, that one..." etc.  Given that the franco-canadien vowels in this expression are very much more like an 'o' than an 'a' (it'll help once I get the HTML characters for accented e's right!).  NB distinct from lo'lo, also sp. lolo and lowullo, meaning round, circular, a circle (of people, objects etc.); the apostrophe and the 'w' in those spellings denotes a glottal stop and/or a different rhythm to the word.
la langue - Lalang - the tongue, also language.  Sometimes used to mean Chinook Jargon in particular.
la lîme - Lalim, laleem- a file.
le loup - Lelou, leloo - wolf. Perhaps also hyas leloo, for timberwolf.  There is a terrifying tale from a Northwest Company outpost in the Shuswap Lake area from 1815 concerning a pack of giant white wolves leading a troop of coyotes, wild dogs and other varmints (raccoons, weasels, etc.) in a rampage across the Interior, killing horses "in the hundreds".  When the pack reached the NWC outpost, the head trapper helped exterminate the half-dozen timberwolves, whereupon the "army" of other animals dispersed; in what might be a self-aggrandizement, the chief trader's journal claims he shot one of the wolves with a muzzle-loader musket at a range of 400 yards.

le main - Lamah, lemah, lehmah- the hand.  The English loanword hand was also used. Also kloshe lamah - right, the right hand ("the good hand").  Potlatch lamah - shake hands, i.e. "give hand".
la maman - Mama - mother.  Also an English loan-word.  Also theoretically an English loan-word.
marcher  - Mahsh - from marcher.  To leave, turn out, throw away, to depart, to remove, to dispose of, to send, many other uses.  This word had a wide variety of uses in the Jargon, not all of which are easy to recount; in general it lost its French contexts of to do, to walk, to work/operate, and carried the sense of to dispose of, to throw away, etc.  This word's origin is supposed to be from the phrase (let's see if I've got this right) marche t'en vas - "put that down", or "unload that".  Please correct me if I've got the French wrong!  See Other compounds in the Verbs & Concepts page.  Also see Lolo and (in this section la, la-la, which is found under "L").
marier - Mahliay - to marry. The English loan-word mahlie (marry) was also used.
le marron - Lemolo - crazy, stupid, wild, untamedClaimed by Gibbs to be a corruption of le marron, for a runaway black slave (maroon in archaic English).  He also says it was used to apply to men and animals alike, and would be used for tribes which had had little contact with colonial settlements, i.e. that were still "wild".
le marteau - Lamahto - hammer. Canadian French also uses le mat'., which one would expect to have come with the voyageurs, but lamat doesn't show up in the lexicons.
la médecine, or le médecin - Lamedsin, lametsin, lamestin, lamotchin - doctor, medicineCan also mean priest.  One correspondent notes that le médecin is more likely to have become lametse.  NB Tamanass man - Indian doctor, medicine man. Note that common the British prononciation of medicine is "medsin".  The English loan-word doctin was also used, a corruption of doctor.
la melasse - Melas - molasses. An unusual French loan-word in that, like sel and suk it does not include the definite article as part of the word as other Chinook borrowings from French do; although lasel and lesuk were also found, lamelas was not.
merci - Mahsie - thank you, mercy, from merci.  NB Hyas mahsie or hayash mahsie- thank you very much.
la messe - Lamess, lamesse - the mass.  Probably also used for Protestant services, ironically enough.
la montagne - Lamonti, lamoti - mountain, mountains.  NB It is unclear from the lexicons if the final vowel in the Jargon adaption is "ee" or "ie" (English conventions), the latter being suggested by the original French word. ref. labooti from la bouteille, where the 'i' also seems to be 'ie'.
le moron (?) - Lemolo - crazy, stupid, wild, untamedClaimed by Gibbs to be a corruption of le marron, for a runaway black slave (maroon in archaic English).  He also says it was used to apply to men and animals alike, and would be used for tribes which had had little contact with colonial settlements, i.e. that were still "wild".
le moulin - Moola, moolah - mill. The latter syllable may or may not be accented, depending on the survival of residual French pronunciation within local Jargon usage. This word may be the origin of the English slang meaning of "moolah" as "money", as mills are even today equated with income in the Northwest, i.e. "the smell of money", as the saying goes.
le mouton - Lemooto - sheep, mutton.
la mule, le mulet - Lamel - mule.  Le mulet is given in one of the sources (Shaw, I think) but specifically means a male, la mule being a female and the more obvious source of the term (female mules were a bit easier to get along with if I recall correctly).  The word burdash, from arch. Fr. berdache, was also used for mules and other hermaphroditic creatures, e.g. burdash moos-moos, steer.

les oeufs - Lezep, lesap - eggs.  Note that the singular form l'oeuf was not adapted, which would have been loup or something similar.
oui, oui - Huy-huy, hui-hui (apparently).  To bargain, to deal, to barter.  The origin of this word's Jargon context is inventively novel - the use of the phrase oui, oui to conclude a deal being adopted into the Jargon as the generic word for bargaining or doing trade.  The words mahkook, mahsh, etc. acquired specific meanings of buy, sell, etc., but huy-huy always carried an open meaning referring to dealings in general.
l'orge - larch - barley NB la seigle - lashay - rye.

le pain - Lapan - bread.  Gibbs says this refers to raised or light bread, as opposed to hardtack or other types.  I am uncertain, however, as to whether the bread referred to by this word may be bannock, which was the staple of the French-speaking voyageurs of the fur trade era and has since become a staple of native peoples throughout British Columbia.  Bannock (the word is Scots in origin) is a virtually deep-fried bread made in a frying pan with flour, water, and salt (and, of course, lots of oil).
le papa - Papa - father.  Also theoretically an English loan-word.
la pêche - Pish - fish (if from French; may also be a corruption of the English fish).  Obviously this is just as much potentially an English loan-word from the f-p change common in native adaptions of English words, but I think it is of combined English-French origin; the English and French words would have sounded similar to native ears anyway.  NB Pish is also "fire".  With the rapid development of orchards in the Interior of the Northwest in the 19th Century, it seems possible that lapesh may have come into use for peach, from the French la peche.
la pelle - Lapelle - shovel or spade. Hmm Lapellah is used for roasting on a fire; conceivably a shovel could be used for this purpose...???
la perche - Lapehsh - a pole, or the sitting-pole of a boat or canoe.  NB possibly alsoof special meaning in the Fraser Canyon (and at the Dalles?), where pole-fishing was done from wooden platforms built scaffolding-style out over the raging torrent of the river.  NB also distinct from the word for a ship's mast - mitwhit stick - lit. standing tree/wood.
le piège - Lapiege (pron. lapee-ezh) - trap.  NB Eena lapiege - beaver-trap.
le pied - Lepee, lapieh - the foot. The native-origin word teawhit was also used.
le piel - Lapel - skin, a hide, a fur.  The English loan-word skin was also used, probably more in reference to human skin than animal skins.
la pioche - Lapeosh - mattock or hoe.
la pipe - Lapeep, lepeep - pipe, as in a smoking pipe.
la place - Laplash - wide, broad, open.  I've added this because a correspondent suggested that laplash, usually cited as from la plage or la planche, may also possibly also be from la place = room/space as in il y a de la place - there is room/space.  Another word for wide or broad is klah or klak.
la plage - Laplash - wide, broad, also a wooden plank, or a floor.  Laplash may also come from la panche, for floor or wooden plank. There may be a vowel distinction between the wide, broad meaning and the board, floor meaning, as there is in French due to the nazalization of the vowel.  This would, I think, make the floor or wooden plank meaning more like laplosh, but this is only my speculation as it is unrecorded in the main sources.  The use of this term for beach does not appear to have come into the Jargon.  Laplash, usually cited as from la plage or la planche, may also possibly also be from la place = room/space as in il y a de la place - there is room/space.  Another word for wide or broad is klah or klak.
la planche - Laplash - wide, broad, also a floor or wooden plank.  Laplash may also come from la plage, for beach There may be a vowel distinction between the wide, broad meaning and the board, floor meaning, as there is in French.  This would make the floor or wooden plank meaning more like laplosh, but this is only speculation as it is unrecorded in the main sources.   Laplash, usually cited as from la plage or la planche, may also possibly also be from la place = room/space as in il y a de la place - there is room/space.  Another word for wide or broad is klah or klak.
la poele - Lapoel - pan, frying pan.
les pois - Lepwah - peas.
la pomme - Lapom - apple. Apples were introduced into the Northwest early on into the 19th Century, both coastal and plateau regions being ideal climates for temperate fruits. I have not seen other Chinook words for fruits, but if any were used they probably would have been French loanwords, as cherries, apricots, peaches and other fruits were planted widely in the Oregon Territory, and then later in BC. I suspect that fruit and fruit trees may have been trade goods during the fur trade era, accounting for a French origin for the word for "apple", rather than an English one.
la porte - Lapote - door.
la poule - Lapool - chicken, fowl, poultry.
la poudre - Polallie - flour, powder, sand, possibly from poudre.  There are disputes as to the origin of this word.  Gibbs notes that there is no native language in the region with a similar word, other than sapolill (flour) or sapolallie - soapberry - which perhaps comes from sabon olallie, sabon coming from French, olallie from local native language).
pourri - Poolie - rotten.
le prêtre - Laplet - priest. I haven't seen seen lepap, from Fr. le pape, for pope, or lebek from l'évèsque, for bishop, but both seems likely, and perhaps occur in the Kamloops Wawa.  I am uncertain what word was used for a pastor or reverend; perhaps laplet as well.
puer - Piupiu, pew-pew - to stink, to smell, poss. from puer (to stink).  Same idea as the English loan-word/onomatopaeoia humm, but of French-type origin rather than English or onomatopoeia  The same word is present in English as "pew!" or "phew", and could just as easily have come to the jargon from French via English as directly from French.
puis - Pe, Pee, Pi - a conjunction - and, than, but, or, etc., from puis, which in French Canadian and Metis dialects is "pi".  I've also heard pe as a conjunction for "and" in St'at'imcets (Lillooet), however, so this may be of Salishan origin.

la râme - Laham, lahahm - oar. NB distinct from isick (paddle).  Mamook laham - to row. NB distinct from lahm - the arm, from l'arme.
le ruban - Leloba - ribbon.

le sac - Lesac, lesak - sack, bag.
le sangle - Lasanjel - belt, sash, girdle.  Proper French is le sangle; la cingle is given in one of the sources. I am uncertain as to whether this refers to the sash that is the hallmark of the voyageur, or to the priestly girdle of a cleric; it may refer to both.
le sauvage - Siwash, sawash - Indian, usually a male Indian.  NB In native usage, sawash is preferred and siwash is perceived as derisive, which it also can be in NW English, when still used.  Sawash preserves the vowels and rhythm of the original French.  Siwash was also mistakenly used as the name of the tribe(s) in the region, which it is not, as in "Siwash Indians", which is actually redundant.
la scie - Lasee - a saw.
la seigle - Lashey, larch- barley (from Shaw). NB correct meaning is rye; larch comes from l'orge -barley.
le sel - Sel - saltThe English loan-word salt was also used.
la selle - Laselle - saddle.NB Opoots laselle - breechclout, breech-cloth, i.e. "rear end saddle", "butt saddle".
la soie - Laswah, lasway- silk, silken.
le sucre - Suk, lesuk- sugar. The English loan-word shugah or shukwah was also used, as was the more French form lesuk.

le tabac - Tabak- tobacco. The English loan-word tobacco and Chinook loan-word kinootl or kinoos were also used.  Tabac is originally a Taino or Sarawak word, I believe.
la table - Latab - a table.
la tête - Latate, latet - the head, the top.
la thé - Latay, lateh - tea. The English loan-word tee was also used.
le tintin - Tintin - bell, church bell, alarm clock, can also mean simply "noise".  Mamook tintin - to make noise, to wake someone up, i.e. reveille.
le train - Latleh - the train, noise, i.e. to make noise like a train, or a train's whistle.  Mamook latleh - to make a lot of noise, to be noisy.
la tuque - Latuk - a woolen cap. Without the French article, tuque or took (as in kook) is a common word in English throughout Canada.

la veste - Lawest - vest.
la vieille - Lammieh, lummieh, lummi- old woman.

 

Indeterminate or Hybrid Origin, but possibly French (?).

Laboat - a boat.  NB distinct from canim (canoe) or ship (ship); apparently of hybrid English-French origin, or a native imposition of a French article on an English loan-word; boat was also used.  The type of boat referred to here would be the York boat, the giant canoe-type freight vessel used by the Hudson's Bay and Northwest companies throughout the continent, but this probably would have become a generic term for items such as rowboats, dorys, etc. that came into use on BC's many lakes.  Other meanings would seem to be a dinghy, dory or rowboat, as well as steamboat (normally piah ship).  I think the reason the term is not labato (from le bateau) is that the voyageurs had adopted the English word in reference to their company work-boats, but would have used it with the French definite article; or else laboat is of hybrid French Canadian-English origin.

Poos - if, suppose, because.  Perhaps from Fr. puis or a French Canadian interjection (which I'll ask my friends I've heard using it about) but usually credited to a corruption of English suppose, i.e. spose.

Lakamass - the camas lily and its root, a major food source
This is a French-Chinook hybrid from the addition of the French article to the native noun, indicating a familiarity with the plant among the voyageurs. and the adoption of a Chinookan term into the local company-French argot.

Moose - moose
Actually a Cree word, the plural of which is moosoutch, this is generally considered to be an English loan-word introduced by the voyageurs.  If it were introduced by French-speakers also familiar with Algonkian tongues, however, it should thus perhaps be considered a French loan-word.  The actual French word is elan, or more properly l'elan. which would have become lalann in the Jargon, which it didn't......perhaps explained by the fact that most of the French in the early Northwest were Métis and therefore Algonkian by culture, and somewhat by language.

Lapishemo - the saddle-blanket and trappings of a horse.
Since writing the following sentences, a discussion in the CHINOOK mailing list has determined that this word is actually of Algonkian origi, from Ojibway I think..  I am unsure of the French source-word here, if there is one, although le chameau (camel) may be a part of it.  On further thought, the standard Canadian French contraction of petit is p'ti, sometimes further contracted to ti or pi.  Therefore, the source term here would have been le petit chameau - "little camel" (i.e. the bump formed by a saddle blanket et al.) - and an alternate form may have been letishamo - the p-t transposition being not uncommon in Chinook.  If from French, rather than from le p'tit chameau it is perhaps more likely from something like le harnachement, perhaps le fichement, although I have never come across it; le fichement is a possible word from "comment il est fichu" - how [the horse] is outfitted - but my correspondent has never seen it.

 


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