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Language Arts & Disciplines General

Making Wawa

The Genesis of Chinook Jargon

by (author) George Lang

UBC Press
Initial publish date
May 2009
General, Historical & Comparative, Native American Languages
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2009
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  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2008
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2009
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A two-edged sword of reconciliation and betrayal, Chinook Jargon (aka Wawa) arose at the interface of “Indian” and “White” societies in the Pacific Northwest. Wawa’s sources lie first in the language of the Chinookans who lived along the lower Columbia River, but also with the Nootkans of the outer coast of Vancouver Island. With the arrival of the fur trade, the French voyageurs provided additional vocabulary and cultural practices. Over the next decades, ensuing epidemics and the Oregon Trail transformed the Chinookans and their homeland, and Wawa became a diaspora language in which many communities seek some trace of their past. A previously unpublished glossary of Wawa circa 1825 is included as an appendix to this volume.

About the author

Contributor Notes

George Lang was the dean of arts at the University of Ottawa and the president of the Association des facultés et établissements de lettres et de sciences humaines (AFELSH).

Librarian Reviews

Making Wawa: The Genesis of Chinook Jargon

Chinook Jargon was a trade language used along the West Coast from the 1830s until the early 20th century. Sometimes inaccurately referred to simply as “Chinook” (the Chinook First Nations of the lower Columbia River area have their own language), this dialect was used for intercommunication between Aboriginals and traders, officials and settlers. It probably arose as an aspect of the fur trade in post-contact times. This book is unique in the way that it ties together the development and evolution of the Chinook language with colonial history. It has a significant BC historical perspective. The book also includes a chronology, extensive notes and a partially annotated early glossary of Chinook Wawa.

Lang is Dean of Arts at the University of Ottawa.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2009-2010.