Chinook Jargon Phrasebook

Kahta Mamook Kopa Chinook Wawa - How to speak Chinook

Time & The Elements


Kwanesum, kwahnesum - always, forever
Wake kunsih - never
Klonas - perhaps, maybe
Ahnkuttie - the past, old times.
Laly ahnkuttie - antiquity, remote history, a long time ago
Alta - now, the here and now, the present
Alki - soon, the future
Winapie - soon, presently
Laly - long, a long time
By extending the first vowel - La-a-a-ly this word's meaning and context is exaggerated, roughly by the proportion the vowel is lengthened by: La-a-a-a-a-a-aly ahnkuttie - a long, long, long time ago, from time immemorial.  However Laly alki - soon, in a while (except if the la-vowel is lengthened, perhaps).
By-by - in the by and by, soon, presently, whenever
Chee - lately, recently
Elip - first, before, already, more
Kimtah - behind, after
Tomolla - tomorrow
Kopet tomolla or ikt tomolla - day after tomorrow
Tahlklie - yesterday
Polaklie - night, evening (also darkness)
Sun - day, sun
Okook sun, oke sun - today.  Get-up sun - sunrise.  Sitkum sun - noon.  Klip sun - sunset. Tenas sun - early, morning. The Chinook loan-word otelagh (o-otlakh) was also used, but Gibbs says this was not properly a jargon word.
Moon - moon, month
Ikt moon - one month.  Sick moon - a waning moon.
Week - week
Sunday - Sunday
This was the only day of the week that had much social meaning in the frontier era. For modern use, the other English days of the week can legitimately be used, as there were no "weeks" (or days of them) in native culture.  Sunday can also mean any holiday, or any day when a flag is flown (the visit of a dignitary, for example).  The other days of the week were referred to by their number - ikt sun, moxt sun, klone sun, etc. or simply by ikt, moxt, klone, etc. - in the same manner as in Portuguese.
Dil-dil, tsil-tsil, chil-chil - stars (also buttons)
Tiktik - watch, pocketwatch
Tintin - Bell, clock, musical instrument
Mamook tintin - to ring a bell, to play an instrument.  Tintin was used by Indians around Hudson's Bay posts in a fashion similar to the nautical usage, e.g. moxt tintin kopet sitkum sun - two bells after noon.
Waum - warm, warmth, summer
Hyas waum - hot.  Waum illahee - summer. Mamook waum - to heat.  Waum-sick-cole-sick - fever and ague (i.e. influenza).
Cole - cold, winter
Cole illahee - winter.  Ikt cole - one year, moxt cole - two years, etc.  As in most Native American cultures, years were counted in winters.  NB the word Tshiss, tshis was also used for "cold" in the Chinook language area on the Lower Columbia.  NB difference from tshish, chish - to sharpen, sharp, which was onomatopoeic.
Snass - rain
Makah - rain
Also means snow in some areas. Note that the name of the Wakashan tribe on the outer rainy coast of the Olympic Peninsula are known as the Makah.
Snow - snow
Wind - wind
Gibbs notes that winds are known by the country from which they blow, rather than by compass directions (for which there were no words in the jargon).  Hence on the Columbia an easterly is a Walla Walla wind, a westerly is a Tillamooks wind.  This is the origin of the term Chinook wind in Alberta, which blows in from the "Chinook illahee" - the Chinook-speaking country beyond the Rockies.  In the Lower Mainland of BC, a Chinook wind is a warm, wet southwesterly - blowing in from the Chinook country of the Lower Columbia.
Hyas wind - big wind, gale
Tamanass wind, mesachie wind, - storm, hurricane
Chinook, Chinook wind - a steady southwest wind
i.e. blowing from the land of the Chinook tribe. On the coast this is a very mild and very wet airstream, today known as "the Pineapple Express" for its nominal origin in the area of Hawaii and the heavy rains and mild winter weather that are its consequence. The same airstream, upon reaching Alberta, has been leached out by successive mountain ranges and is so dry and warm it is also called the "snow-eater".
Tenass wind - breeze
Smoke - fog, cloud, steam, smoke


Where more than one Chinook word is given, it is advisable to refer to the Chinook-English section for differing contexts and associations.
After - kimtah
After a while - by-by, laly alki, winapie
Alarm, alarm clock, alarm bell - tintin
Already - elip
Always - kwanesum, kwahnesum. For emphasis - laly kwanesum
Antiquity - ahnkuttie, laly ahnkuttie
Before - elip
Behind - kimtah, opoots
Breeze - tenass wind
By and by, in the by and by - by-by
Clock, alarm clock
- tintin, tiktik
Day, daylight - sun. Klone sun(s) - three days
Evening - polaklie. This evening - kopa polaklie
First - elip
Forever - Kwanesum, kwahnesum. For emphasis - Laly kwanesum
Future, the future - alki. The distant future - la-a-a-ly alki (not laly alki).
Gale - hyas wind, mesachie wind
Here and now - alta
History - ahnkuttie, laly ahnkuttie.
In a temporal context only, not as in "the history of".
Hurricane - tamanass wind, mesachie wind
Lately - chee
Later - kimtah, laly kimtah.
Long ago, a long time ago - laly ahnkuttie.
Long time - laly, la-a-a-ly.
Usually used in combination with another term for past or future.
Maybe - klonas
Month - moon
Night, night-time - polaklie
Now - alta. Right now - nawitka alta.
Olden times, the old days - ahnkuttie, laly ahnkuttie
Past, the past - ahnkuttie, laly ahnkuttie
Perhaps - klonas
Present, the present - alki
Presently - by-by, winapie, laly alki
Rain - snass, makah
Recently - chee
Sleet - cole snass, tamanass makah Snow - makah
Soon - by-by, laly alki, winapie. Very soon - tenass by-by.
Storm - tamanass wind, mesachie wind. Also poss. mesachie snass, tamanass makah.
Summer - waum
Sunday - sunday
Sunshine - sun
Time immemorial - la-a-a-a-a-a-ly ahnkuttie
Tomorrow - tomolla
Watch, pocketwatch - tiktik
Week - week
Whenever - by-by, laly by-by.
i.e. "when's he coming? - whenever!"
While, in a while - by-by, winapie, laly alki.
Not in the pronomial sense, in which case pe or pee would most likely have been used.
Wind - wind
Winter - cole
Year - cole
Years were counted in winters, as elsewhere in native North America.
Yesterday - tahlklie

Greetings & Salutations | Common Phrases | Money, Trade, & Travel | Time & the Elements
Food & Domestic Life | Fun & Games | Critters & Livestock | People

The Body | Numbers | Interrogatives, Prepositions, & Interjections

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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