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category: Language Arts & Disciplines
published: July 2009
publisher: UBC Press

Making Wawa

The Genesis of Chinook Jargon

by George Lang

tagged: native american languages, historical & comparative

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 A previously unpublished glossary of Wawa circa 1825 is included as an appendix to this volume.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

George Lang

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).

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