About the editor

I am going to write a bit about myself here mainly because I think that since this paper etc. is published in an Indigenous language (or as Dave Robertson put it, a “co-aboriginal language”), it is important to be upfront about who I am and my motivations for doing what I do. You may also just be curious. Please feel free to ignore this post though.

So here are some answers to what I imagine may be pertinent questions about myself, my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that might influence how I approach this language:

1. What’s your name?

Alex

2. Where are you from? Are you Indigenous?

I am a descendent of euro settlers, and was born and grew up in British Columbia (BC), mostly in Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Shuswap territories.

3. Did you grow up speaking Chinook? Are you fluent in Chinook?

I did not grow up speaking Chinook. I only knew of it growing up through things like loanwords in locally spoken English and place names.

I would say that I am highly proficient in Chinook- in speaking, listening, reading and writing in all typical writing systems (including Chinuk Pipa).

That said, I am much more familiar with the Northern Dialect of Chinook Wawa as spoken here in BC, rather the Southern sort that is spoken in Grand Ronde (GR) etc.. I have some exposure to Southern Dialect, but really not a whole lot and do not know much of their vocabulary (especially neologisms).

I do make mistakes as any speaker of a second language inevitably will. This isn’t a place where everyone has to be perfect- we’re all learning here. There’s a reason this site is called “kaltash wawa” 🙂

4. Why do you call this language by a bunch of different names?

Chinook = Chinook Jargon = Chinuk Wawa = Chinook Wawa = Jargon = Wawa = CW = CJ

It makes absolutely no difference to me what you call this language as long as we understand each other.

I prefer to use “Chinook” since that’s the most common way both historically and presently to refer to this language both in English and in Chinook. Compared to simply “Chinook”, you will very rarely if ever find “Chinuk Wawa” as the name for this language in historical BC texts.

5. How did you learn Chinook?

Largely from Dr. David Robertson, the BC Chinook Wawa folks, listening to every recording of BC Chinook Jargon speakers I could find, academic papers and research, and by reading a huge amount of text with a very critical eye (including I think 1000s of pages of Chinuk Pipa- pretty much everything that is online).

6. Do you know other languages? Are you a linguist?

I speak English natively and have studied and know to varying degrees of proficiency French, Latin, and Ancient Greek.

I am not a linguist, but I have an interest in linguistics. I think a better description of what I am, academically at least, is a philologist. I hold a bachelor’s in classics and history and a master’s degree in history. I study languages to get at the literature, rather than a linguist who might study literature to get at the language, if you catch my drift.

What I do at the Kaltash Wawa isn’t really academic though.

So, I have a soft spot in my heart for languages, especially when their written texts can unlock histories I would like to learn or stories I would like to read.

7. Are you or the Kaltash Wawa associated with the Cascadia movement or another political group?

No.

The Kaltash Wawa is not associated with any political movement, outside group, or set of beliefs. I welcome people who Identify with the Cascadia movement or other movements to come learn with us if they would like to though.

Personally, I am not overly political and would not like to label myself, which I recognize is a privileged position to be in. I am a strong believer in Indigenous rights and title though, but I’m sure I can be as ignorant as the next settler. I try my best to be an ally.

8. Why did you learn Chinook Jargon and why did you make this site?

I learned Chinook Jargon mostly because:

1) I have an interest in languages and literature.

2) I have an Interest in history, especially the history of British Columbia and those regions of BC where Chinuk Pipa was used.

3) There is an important corpus of texts I wanted to read that is written in Chinook Jargon / Chinuk Pipa. Currently to be able to read the majority of that corpus you must know the language and the writing system. Even if you could read it all in translation, I believe that reading a text in the original language is preferable for many reasons and also that to truly understand a language you have to be a speaker (at least to some extent).

4) I grew up with Chinook words around me and wanted to get the full story behind these words.

I made the Kaltash Wawa to:

1) Increase awareness of and encourage people to learn this language in a fun, creative, collaborative, and (hopefully) respectful way.

2) Increase awareness of and encourage people to learn this language as it has been spoken in BC. The Northern Dialect of this language does not get the same attention as the Southern one especially by learners. If not to encourage people to speak in this dialect I at least want people to know about it.

3) Encourage people to learn this language well. There is a whole lot of misinformation and bad Chinook Jargon swirling around out there in the ether and I wanted to do my bit to point people in the right direction.

4) Encourage people to learn Chinuk Pipa (CP). Even though there are possibly thousands of people learning this language, this important writing system was being almost entirely neglected. Not only does the vast majority of the material written in this language only exist in Chinuk Pipa, it is where you will find pretty much the only (100+ year-old) historic Chinook Jargon actually written by Indigenous people. CP has been sorely neglected by learners and scholars, honestly to my amazement and confusion when I first approached this language, and I would like to do my small part to help fix that. To me, being a learner of this language in BC especially and not learning Chinuk Pipa is like learning Chinese and ignoring everything ever written in Chinese characters 😐

9. Are you doing this for personal gain or money?

lol no.

I will never get back my investment of time and money I’ve made into this language. This is a passion project that I am losing money on and will continue to lose on. I expect nothing back and give all what I produce out for free. I have an option to donate if you would like to help me cover the costs incurred by hosting this site and other expenses related to Kaltash Wawa, but I expect nothing from you.

I think that’s enough blabbing. If you have another specific question drop it in the comments and maybe I can answer.


Please keep in mind that my thoughts and opinions are always changing about some of these topics. If you come to this much later after originally publishing, it may no longer be accurate. I am also not the only one contributing to the Kaltash Wawa and am not necessarily a representative of those who work and learn with me.

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