Chinook Jargon Phrasebook

Kahta Mamook Kopa Chinook Wawa - How to speak Chinook

Kamloops Wawa Word List:

This is a list of basic Chinook Jargon words as reproduced in Kamloops Wawa, a publication of the Oblate missionary community in British Columbia during the 1890s.  This is not, as far as I can tell, the same list as one in another edition of Kamloops Wawa, as there are some differences in spelling that I remember from the other version.  This list is produced separately here from the rest of the Phrasebook because of the wide divergence in spelling and apparent pronunciation from the other versions of the lexicon, most of which were published in the United States.  There are also some words included here which do not appear in the usual sources (Gibbs, Shaw, etc.).

The original version of this list as it appeared in Kamloops Wawa included renderings of the words given in the Duployan shorthand script developed for the Jargon by Fr. Lejeune; there were apparently at one time over 2000 people fluent in reading the Jargon in this shorthand, and many copies of the Kamloops Wawa are nearly entirely in the shorthand alone.  The texts in yellow are my own additions, consisting of the usual (or alternate) spellings of the Jargon words noted, plus comments about their usual meanings and possible contexts; when necessary I have added links to appropriate pages elsewhere in this site that are pertinent to the word cited.  At the bottom of the word list there is some editorializing concerning the Jargon and the Duployan shorthand that was included in the same issue of the Kamloops Wawa as the word list, and for your convenience in studying the Duployan script glyphs of each word, the table of forms and associated phonemes may be viewed by clicking here (144kb)A later revision of this page will attempt to align the glyphs according to the baseline used in the original, which is too large of a GIF to be viewed here in any legible format; many of the angle-lines shown here are below this baseline.

NB:  concerning pronunciation, the final "-e" and "-ale" on most words should be understood to be a pronounced syllable, rather than a modifier of the preceding vowel as it is in English.  e.g. the word poolale here is usually given in other Jargon lexicons as pollalie.


Aiak - Fast   hyak, hayak   Aias - Big   hyas   also means mighty, important, etc.
Aioo - Plenty   hiyu   also means several, many, a group, a gathering   Alta - Now   the present
Alke  - By & by   alki   the future; used to form the future tense   Ankate - Long ago   ahnkuttie   the past; used to form the past tense
Oihat - Road   wayhut, ooahut, ooakut  also means path, highway, route, etc.   Oihoi - Trade   hui-hui, huy-huy   to bargain, to strike a deal
Olali - Berries   olallie   Olo - Hungry   also means thirsty; in combination with other words can mean to need or to want, i.e. olo moosum - to be sleepy, to need sleep
Ooputs - The Back   opoots   also means the behind, the buttocks   Ookuk - This   okook, okoke   also means this one, these, that one, those
Ow - Brother   specifically the younger brother, someone younger than the speaker   Wawa - Speak   also means speech, language, to say, to talk, to tell, words, also used to refer to the Jargon itself
Wah - Pour   wagh   the final 'h' sound should be pronounced, as indicated by the shorthand glyph   Weht - Again   weght   also means yet, even, still, also, etc. As with wah, the prononciation of the 'h' in this word is indicated in the glyph
Wek - Not    wake, wik   with halo, a generic negative; also used to mean nothing, etc.   Yawa - There   yahwa
Yaka - He   she, it  also the accusative or genitive/possessive of any of these pronouns (i.e. him, his)   Yakwa - Here   yukwa
Ehe - Laugh  hee-hee, heehee   can also mean fun, games, laughter, games, etc. and in the combination mamook hee-hee means to play   Ehpooi - Shut   ikpooie   also means closed, locked
Iht - One   ikt, ixt   can also mean alone, only, etc.  In the form ikt.....ikt means one or the other or either...or   Ipsoot - To hide   also means hidden, concealed, a secret, etc.
Itlooil - Flesh   itlwillie   can also mean meat, muscle tissue, etc.   Ikta? - What?
Iktas - Goods   can also mean possessions, clothes, etc.   Ilaiten - Slave   elite   another word, mitschimass, was also used for the condition of enslavement
Elo - Not   halo   with wake, a generic negative, also used to mean nothing, etc.   Elehe - Earth   illahee, illahe, illahie   also means soil, land, country, terrain, field, farm etc.
Ilep - First   elip   also means before, in front of, the elder brother, etc.   Issik - Paddle   isick
Eskom - Take   iskum   also means to have, to hold, to possess, etc.; can mean to believe, as in iskum tumtum - to have thought, to have a feeling   Enatai - Across   enati
Utle - Glad   youtl   Haha - Awful   I have not seen this in other lexicons; it may only be a regional usage
Halak - Open   hahlakl  i.e. wide open; can also mean unlocked, exposed, etc.   Hum - Smell   humm   a bad odour, not "to smell"
Heloima - Other   huloima   also means another, different, strange, the other one, a foreigner, etc.   Paia - Fire   piah   also means hot, cooked, ripe
Pasisi - Blankets    paseese   can also mean cloth in general   Patl - Full   pahtl
Patlach - Give   potlatch   this word also means a gift, and was used to describe the institution of the gift-feast.  NB cultus potlatch - "just a gift", i.e. a way of downplaying the gift or act of giving as in humility   Poo - Shot   i.e. a shot (of gunfire), or the shot-pellet or a bullet
Poolakle - Night   polaklie   also means darkness, evening, shadow, etc.   Poolale - Powder    pollalie
Poos - If   does not occur in other lexicons; may be a borrowing from the French puis   Pi - And    pe  also means but, and in other areas if
Pel - Red    pil   Pelpel - Blood   pil-pil, pilpil
Pelten - Insane    pelton   can also mean a fool, deranged, foolish etc.  I do not think this was associated with violent insanity, but rather with harmless befuddlement or mental incapacitation   Taye - Chief    tyee   can also mean any official or person of rank or status
Taham - Six   taghum, tohum, tahum   Tatilam - Ten    tahtlum
Tamanwaz - Juggler   tamanass, tamahnous, tamanahwis   usually translated as magic, the supernatural, wizard, spirit, evil etc.  The intent here might be to associate the tamanass or Indian doctor (medicine man) with mere prestidigitation, and not concede the existence or validity of magic or non-Christian practices   Tanaz - Little     tenas, tenass  also means small, child, son, the young of any species, etc.
Tolo - Win    also means to gain, to earn, to conquer   Tomtom - Heart   tumtum    also means to think, to feel, to believe, etc.
Tepso - Herb    tupso   also means grass, flowers, any plant, etc.   Tekop - White   tkope
Teke - To like   tikegh, ticky   to want, to desire, to yearn   Tiktik - Telegraph   usually means a watch or a timepiece; I have not seen this translation elsewhere
Tel - Tired    till   Telikom - Men   tillikum, tillicum    can mean people or a person; often used in the context of "friend", and can occur in a plural form with "-s"
Tintin - Bell   also means to ring, or any sound, or music   Tlap - Catch   klap   also means to find, to arrive at a conclusion, to remember something (i.e. to find a thought)
Dret - Indeed   delate   usually means true, straight, etc.  "indeed" is elsewhere rendered as nawitka   Tloos - Good   kloshe, kloos   has a wide variety of other meanings in many compound forms
Tloon - Three   klone   Tlil - Black   klale
Tsee - Sweet    care must be taken to distinguish this word from chee, for new (given here as che)   Tsem - Writing    tzum   can also mean spots, marks, etc. and can be an adjective for spotted or patterned cloth, esp. calico, as in tzum paseese
Tsiktsik - Wagon    chikchik   Tsiltsil - Stars    chilchil
Kah? - Where?   Generic interrogative, can also be conjunctive and prepositional, and can mean what, etc. and the conjunctive form of that, which, etc.   Kapshwala - Steal   kapswalla   can also mean stealthy, illicit, crooked, etc., e.g. klatawa kapswalla - to go cautiously, to travel secretly
Kata - How?    kahta?   also means why   Kakwa - Thus   kahkwa   also used for how, like, as, as if, similar to
Kakshet - Broken    kokshut   also means a blow, a strike, smashed to pieces   Kalakala - Birds
Kaltash - Useless   cultus   also meant ordinary, broken, meaningless, shiftless and was often used to mean bad, ill although it also had quite neutral meanings, i.e. cultus potlatch, a simple gift (i.e. one without conditions)   Kanawe - All    konoway, konaway   the compound kopa konaway was used for the whole way, the whole shebang, everything and then some, etc.
Kanamoxt - together    kunamoxt, kunamokst  also used to mean both, the two, a pair; seems to have its origin as konaway moxt - all two   Kansih? - How many?    kunjih?   kunsih?  was used for any question relating to quantity, including how much? as in a price
Kamooks - Dog   Kopa - at, in    generic preposition; can also mean to, with, by, by means of, etc.
Kopet - Done   Also means to finish, to stop, to complete, and but for, even, still, yet, etc.   Kolan - Ear   kwolann, kwolan   also means to hear, to listen, esp. in combination with mamook
Komtax - Know   kumtux, kumtuks   also means to understand, to think, etc.   Kwaten - Belly    kwahtin, yakwahtin  also means the stomach, the torso, the trunk of the body, the entrails, etc.
Kwash - Afraid    kwass   Kwanesem - Always    kwanesum, kwonesum   also means forever, eternity, eternal
Kwenam - Five    kwinnum   Kipooit - to sew   kipwit, kipwot, keepwot  can also mean a needle or an awl
Kikoole - Below   keekwullee, kickwillie   also means underground, beneath, an underground house, etc.   Kilapai - Upset    kilapi, killapie   upset as in turned over, etc.; also means changed, reversed, to go back, etc.
Kimta - Behind     kimtah   also means after, following, next, etc.; can mean later on   Kiskis - to drive   kishkish
Kiutan - Horse   kiuatan   It surprised me to see this in the Kamloops-area word list, as the word cayoosh was common in the Jargon of the BC Interior to mean horse, specifically a mountain-pony   Klahane - Outside   klahanie   the outdoors in general, as well as outside of a building or in the open
Klahoyam - Poor   klahowyum, klahowya   also means miserable, etc.; used as the main greeting in the jargon (perhaps originally ironically)   Klatwa - Go    klatawa, klattawah   also means to move, to travel, etc.
Klaksta - Who   Klaska - They   as with all pronouns, also used for the accusative and genitive/possessive (i.e. them, theirs)
Kliskes - mats    kliskwis, klisskwiss   Klootchmin - Woman    klootchman   also used in compounds to indicate the female of any species; in later times its use in application to humans was restricted to native women
Kloonas - Possibly   klonas   maybe, perhaps   Knim - Canoe    canim
glyph for "kho" Kho - Reach   ko   i.e. to arrive at   Khow - Tie   kow   specifically in the combination mamook kow; kow by itself seems to mean a knot or tied-up
Khell - Hard    kull   means physically hard, as in texture, as well as a term for difficulty   Lolo - Carry    can also mean a burden, a load, to portage
Laket - Four    lakit   Lele - A long time     laly   this seems to more have been an auxiliary for measures of time; in combination with ahnkuttie, the word for the past, it means "a really long time ago" or antiquity, while in combination with words for the future (winapie, alki, etc.) it actually meant "soon", "not long now", rather than "a long time from now"
Chako - Come   used for to become, and for certain passive compounds; has a wide variety of other meanings and contexts in various compounds   Chok - Water    chuck   fluids in general, lakes, water, sea, etc.  "out on the chuck" remains an expression in English of the region for being out on a boat
Che - New    chee   also means recently, newly come, etc.   Chikmin - Metal   chickamin, chikamin   specifically iron; with adjectives for colour can mean gold or silver (i.e. pil and tkope, respectively).  Also means money
Sahale - Above    saghalie, sagalie   also means over, high up, the sky.  In use by missionaries it was coopted to mean heaven, and became confused with the meaning holy or sacred because of its use for God - Saghalie Tyee, i.e. chief above   Saia - Far   siah   in Nookta/Nuu-chah-nulth territory this word meant sky
Saplel - Bread   sapollil   also means flour, wheat, etc.  Bread can also be lepan   Sakalooks - Pants    sakolleks   trousers, etc.
Salix - Angry   solleks   Siahus - Eyes     seeahost, siaghost  also means the face, etc.
Siesem - Tell    this appears to be related to yiem, which was used for the same meaning in Puget Sound and the Lower Columbia, and could also mean a tale or a story   Sitkom - Half   sitkum   also means halfway, part of
Sele - Soul     does not appear in other lexicons; appears to be a borrowing from the German seele; this term may have been introduced by the Oblates because the French loanword equivalent would have been lahm (from l'ame), which is the same as the word for oar   Senmoxt - Seven   sinamoxt
Stiwil - Pray   does not appear in other lexicons; appears to be a borrowing from Secwepemc (Shuswap)   Stalo - River    does not appear in other lexicons, where liver or chuck is generally provided for river; appears to be a borrowing from the Salishan languages of the Fraser-Thompson basin.  The First Nation of the lower canyon and upper delta of the Fraser River goes by the name Sto:lo (the ":" being a sort of glottal stop)
Skookum - Strong   also means big, true, able, genuine, powerful   Snaz - Rain   snass
Maika - Thou   mika    i.e. the second person singular; as with all pronouns, can also be the accusative or genitive/possessive (i.e. thee, thine)   Makmak - Eat     muckamuck   generally means to ingest, including to drink; can also be used for food, dinner or a meal
Mamook - Work     also means to do, to make, etc.; used to form verbs by combination with nouns and adjectives, and to form the passive or imperative in combination with other verbs and adverbs   Makook - Buy   mahkook   can also mean to trade, to shop, to do business, etc., and can also mean to sell, though not as commonly
Mowich - Deer   mowitch   can refer to animals in general   Mash - Throw     mahsh   has a wide variety of meanings and possible contexts
Masachi - Bad     mesachie   has the specific context/connotation of malice or evil, whereas kaltash (cultus) and tamanwaz (tamanass, tamahnous) have other less explicitly malign meanings   Moxt - Two   mokst
Moosum - Sleep   Moosmoos - Beef   also means cattle, cow, etc.  Not to be confused with moose, which was either used as a loanword itself or was given as hyas mowitch (which could also mean elk)
Mitlait - Remain   mitlite  has a wide variety of meanings and possible contexts   Mitooit - Stand    mitwhit   also means upright, standing up, etc.
Memloos - Dead    memaloose, mimaloose   also means death, to kill, to die   Msaika - You   mesika, mesaika   the plural second person; as with all pronouns, can also be the genitive/possessive (i.e. yours)
Naika - I, me    nika   as with all pronouns, can also be the genitive/possessive (i.e. mine)   Nawitka - Yes   nowitka   was commonly used for "indeed!", i.e. an emphatic imperative
Nanich - See    nanitch   also used to mean to look, to watch, sight, vision, etc.  The phrase kloshe nanitch - watch well, i.e. to guard, to look out - was the motto of the Kamloops-based militia regiment the Rocky Mountain Rangers.   Nsaika - We   nesika, nesaika   the plural first person; can also be the accusative and genitive/possessive (i.e. us, ours)
Kapho - Brother    kahpo   the elder brother, a person older than the speaker   Tanke son (tahke son?) - Yesterday   tahlkie, tahlkie sun   the "sun" compound specifies the daytime; tahlkie polaklie would mean yesterday evening or last night
Ulkat - Long    youtlkut   long as in physical dimension, not as in time   Tlemenooit - To tell a lie   kliminawhit   can also mean a liar; from the word klimin or klimmin - smooth, a lie


Words borrowed from English

It should be explained here that not all the words in the following list necessarily have the same meanings they customarily do in English - "wind", for example can refer to weather of all kinds depending on what adjective is used with it; it also refers to breath, to breathe, and to be alive iskum wind or mitlite wind.  Also the script characters given, when deciphered, are a demonstration that the pronunciation of these words was different than in English - "old" and "cold" being pronounced "ole" and "cole", and "warm" being pronounced "waum".  Please refer to the shorthand table reproduced here from Kamloops Wawa if you care to decipher any of the following pronunciations yourself.


Ice   Old
Wild   Wine
Wash   Watch
Warm   Wind
house   Help
Papa   Papoose
Bone   Tomorrow
cold   Quarter
Kiss   Rope Examination of the glyph here will show the usual Jargon pronunciation of this loanword - lope. Similar r - l transitions can be found throughout this word list.
Lake   Lazy
Sail   Sell
Sky   Stick Used in the broad general sense of wood; trees, shipmasts, and building lumber alike were all called stick, with or without modifying adjectives.
Day While the word depicted here by thy glyph is indeed an English word, it is not day, but rather the word that was used to mean day - sun.   Snow
Man   Eight The older Jargon numeral was stotekin; the adoption of this English numeral may have been specific to the B.C. Interior.
Hammer   Whip  Note that the pronunciation here is in the British/colonial fashion, with a pronounced 'h' before the 'w'.
Wheat  Note that the pronunciation here is in the British/colonial fashion, with a pronounced 'h' before the 'w'.   Pipe
Basket   Boat
Boot   Bed
Pin   Play
Dollar  The pronunciation written here is the with an initial 't', and there is no final 'r' or 'h'   Tea
Dry   Fight
Fish   Fly
Flowers   Coat
Get up   Kettle
Grease   Light
Life   Law

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Verbs & Concepts | Adjectives & Adverbs | Grammar & Pronunciation
French loan-words | English & other loan-words
Chinook-English reference (by category)
Kamloops Wawa Word List - NEW
Jim Holton's Chinook Jargon Book (draft)
George Lang's Chinook Jargon Website
Dakelh (Carrier) Chinook Jargon Website
Jeff Kopp's Chinook Wawa Website
Duane Pasco's Tenas Wawa On-Line
Chinook Night Before Christmas
Chinook Lord's Prayer & Hymns

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