As Chinook's origins lay in trade and communications between tribes of radically differing linguistic roots, and the jargon developed in the course of trade between native peoples and non-natives, it is only natural that words for trade and commerce were important and common parts of the vocabulary, as were words used in the course of travel. Most words here for buying and selling products and modes of travel; for effective bargaining, of course, numbers would be needed, as would common greetings and courtesies. and the usual interrogatives and interjections. Sample phrases for doing business or asking directions will be found towards the bottom of this page.
Kunsih, kunjih, kunjuk, kunjie - how many (also when)
Kwunnun - a count, numbers
Mamook kwunnun - to count
Mamook kunsih - to count ("to make how many")
See also Numbers.
Hiyu, hiu, hyiu - many, lots, a multitude, enough (to go around),
Gibbs notes that Jewitt gives hyo as meaning "ten" at Nootka Sound. Tenas hiyu - some, a few. Wake hiyu - not many, not much.
Huy-huy, hui-hui - exchange, bargain, trade, do business
Mamook huyhuy - to strike a deal
Mamook - do, work
See Mamook Compounds.
Kumptus, kumtux - to know, to understand, to sympathize
See Kumtux Compounds.
Tumtum - to feel, to believe, to think, to know
Also means "heart", and may also be used for sympathy. See Tumtum Compounds.
Mahkook - buy, sell, trade (usually "buy"; means "do business")
Hyas mahkook - expensive, a high price
Mahish, mahah - sell, let go, to leave
Iskum - hold, possess, take, receive
Tikegh, tikke, ticky - to want, to desire, to love, to wish, to like, to need
Potlatch - give, to share (as a verb)
Also "a gift", but also the great gift-feasts that were central to native society and economics, especially on the Coast.
Kapswalla - steal
Kliminawhit - lie, liar. Klimmin ("smooth") by itself can also mean "lie", but properly it is an adjective.
Moola, moolah - mill (from Fr. 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 Stick moola - a lumber-mill. Chickamin moola - a mine mill. Pehpah mill - paper or pulp mill.
Chuck - water, river, stream
Saltchuck - salt water, the ocean. Solleks chuck - rough sea ("angry sea"). Chuck chako - the tide/river rises. Chuck kalapi - the tide/river falls. Saghalie chuck - high tide. Keekwillie chuck - low tide.
Halo chuck - dry, dried out, desert, also thirsty
Dely, dly - dry
Liver - river
Skookumchuck - "big water", "powerful water", i.e. rapids, maybe
There are three placenames in British Columbia using this word. Skookumchuck Narrows at the outlet of Sechelt Inlet is the site of a large tidal rapid, nearly a salt-water waterfall at high-tide. Skookumchuck Hot Springs is south of Pemberton and due east of Whistler, although this native community and large ghost town may be derived from the town's hot spring, rather than from the nearby river. Skookumchuck Rapids, or Skookumchuck, is located at a large rapids in the Rocky Mountain Trench section of the Columbia River near Invermere. Its name was first recorded by fur company explorer David Thompson (who got to Astoria two or three weeks after Lewis and Clark).
Hyak - fast, swift
Klahwa - slow, slowly
Klah - free and clear, in sight
Klip - deep
Klip chuck - deep water. Klip sun - sunset.
Laplash - wide, broad
This word is from the French la planche, for a plank or floor-boards, and also for a floor, a concept that is easily translatable into "broad" or "spread out".
Hahlakl - wide open
Delate - straight, direct
Enati - across
Enati chuck - across the river, across the water.
Mime, mimie - downstream
Mahtlinnie - offshore
As a command - "keep off" (i.e. in boating). If on land, the meaning is "towards the water".
Mahtwillie - inshore, shoreward
As a command - "keep in". On land, means "towards the woods" or "the interior".
Nauits - off shore, on the stream
Gibbs comments that Anderson says this was not properly a jargon word. It is of Chehalis origin.
Katsuk - middle, in the middle of
Nose - a promontory, a point of land
Also means "nose", as on the face.
Delate - straight, direct
Lope - rope
Kow- tie, fasten
Sail - sail, cloth, flag
Wind - wind, breeze, etc
Also breath, breathe, life. NB Halo wind - dead, out of breath. See Time and the Elements.
Siah - far
Jewitt gives this as meaning the sky in Nootka, which perhaps conveys its true context - "beyond the sky" or (as in English) "the wild blue yonder". Comparative distance is expressed by intonation or repetition - siah-siah. NB Wake siah - near, not far.
Koosah, kosah - sky (only on the Lower Columbia)
Tsil-tsil, chil-chil, dil-dil - stars
Latleh - train
Mamook latleh - make a lot of noise, i.e. "make like a train". The word tren or tlen was also used.
Wayhut, Ooakut - road, way, path
Tsik-tsik wayhut, chickchick wayhut - wagon-road. Also pronounced weehut, hwehkut, etc.
Chickchick, tsik-tsik - wagon
Kishkish - drive
Lewhet, lawhet - whip
Klatawa kopa kiuatan or klatawa kopa cayoosh - to ride a horse, to travel by horseback
Lasell, lasill - saddle
Lableed - bridle
Lapishemo - saddle-blanket and trappings of a horse
Leseeblo - spurs
Sitlay, sitliay - stirrups
Lolo - carry, lift
Haul - haul, pull, lift
Lazy - lazy
Till - heavy, tired
Sick - sick
Help - help
Elann, elahan - aid, assistance
Mamook elann - to help
Kloshe, kloosh, klosh, close - good, correct, right
Hyas kloshe - very good. Elip kloshe - best, the best. NB Mamook kloshe - fix it, it's fixed, make it better, doing OK, to make feel good, heal. Kloshe lemah - the right hand ("the good hand")
Olo - hungry, hunger
Dly, dely - dry, thirsty
Also halo chuck or olo chuck - "without water", "need water" and tikke chuck - "want water", "need water". Chako dly - to dry out.
Moosum - sleep
Olo moosum - sleepy. also tikegh moosum - sleepy. Naika hyas moosum - I slept very sound. Hyas naika tikegh moosum - I really need some sleep.
Illahee - land, countryside, the earth
Lamonti - mountain
Klahanie - outside, the out-of-doors
Nanich, nanitch - see, look, watch out, behold
Mitwhit - stand, also wait
Mitlite - stay, remain, sit, have, were at, wait
Kalapie - to return, turn, upset, turn over
Ko - reach, arrive at, get to
Klatawa - go, walk, travel
Cooley - run, hurry
This is usually credited as being from Fr. coulir or courir, but may also be a borrowing of the English word "coolie", itself a borrowing from Hindi.
Chako - come, come here
Cheechako - newcomer, tenderfoot
Sikhs, siks, seeks - friend
Musket - musket, gun
Pish stick- rifle, gun ("fire stick")
Wawa - talk, say, tell, haggle, language
Attributed to Chinookan origin, but identical to the Chinese "wawa" - words, speech. Nesika wawa - "let's talk", but also "our language". Huy-huy wawa - haggle, bargain.
Lalang - language, tongue
Boston wawa, Kingchauch wawa or Boston lalang, Kingchauch lalang - the English language
Pasiooks wawa, or Pasiooks lalang - French
Chinaman wawa, China wawa or Chinaman lalang - the Chinese language
Kanaka wawa, etc. - the Hawaiian language
Dutchman wawa, etc. - German
May also have referred to Swedish and Dutch, both of which were spoken in the Northwest.
Mamook Kingchauch wawa? - "Do you speak English?"
There do not appear to have been Chinook words for Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian, all of which were spoken in the Northwest by colonists. There must have been Haida and Tlingit words for Russian, but I have not found these out yet.
See also People.
Poh - blow, a puff of breath
Lesak, lesac - sack, bag
Lapel - skin, fur, pelt, hide
Skin - skin, hide, pelt
Lapeep, lepeep - a pipe. Also to share a pipe, i.e. Mamook lapeep - have a meeting or chat
Lagome - gum, pitch
Kilitsut - a flint, bottle, glass
Opitsaht - knife, something sharp
Also means "beloved" or sweetheart, perhaps the original meaning; as in a knife-owner naming his instrument "my little sweetheart". Or in the sense that love "cuts to the heart".
Paseese, paseesee - blanket, woolen cloth
Ik-kik - fish hook
Blanket - blanket
Capo - coat
Seahpo - hat
Paint - paint
Salt, sel - salt
Suk, shugah, shukwah, lesuk - sugar
Lawen - oats, grain
Sapolill - flour
Lawen sapolill - oat flour. Lice Sapolill - rice flour, etc. Klimmin sapolill - fine flour.
Sapolallie, sopalallie - a type of berry bush, usually the soapberry (xoosum).
Lice - rice
Coop-coop - the dentalium shell, shell-money
The original loan-word here was from the lower Columbia. This word was used for smaller shells or small collections thereof.
Hykwa, hyakwa - the dentalium shell, shell-money
The original loan-word here was from the Wakashan Nootka-Makah territories. Dentalium shells were collected in strings up to six feet long, and were a major item of barter trade and potlatch as far south as California and as far east as the Blackfoot country beyond the Rockies.
Kamosack, kamosuk, camosun - beads
Tyee kamosack - the highest-quality blue beads, which were much prized in trade.
Pepah, pehpah - paper. Also contracts, documents, writing
Law - law
Court - court (law court)
See also Food & Domestic Life.
Maika mamook moolah? - Do you work at the mill? Literally
"do you do the mill?"
Maika mamook mahish? - Are you selling something? or Are you a salesman?
Potlatch - wake mahish. - It's a gift, I'm not selling it. Also Naika Potlatch - "I give" or Potlatch maika - "give to you".
Potlatch - wake mahkook. - Give it to me, I don't want to buy/pay for it. Also Maika Potlatch or Potlatch naika (as above).
Naika iskum - wake mahish. - I'm keeping it, it's not for sale. Maika iskum (I keep) - wake mahkook (no buy) - Keep it, I'm not buying it.
Tumtum huyhuy? - do you want to bargain? Feel like making a deal?
Mamook huyhuy. - Let's make a deal, let's do business. Mamook mahish - Sold, it's sold ("the sale is made").
Kunjih rice? Kunjih sapolillie? - How much for rice?
How much for flour?