Chinook Jargon developed as a pidgin used in trading
interactions between the people of the Pacific Northwest in
the USA and Canada during the 19th century. It first emerged
along the lower Columbia River, and then spread to other parts
of what are now Oregon and Washington states, and to British
Columbia, Alaska and Yukon Territory.
Much of the vocabulary of Chinook Jargon comes from the
languages of the Chinook people, only one of which, Upper
Chinook (Kiksht), is still spoken, though the last fully fluent
speaker died in 2012. Chinook Jargon also includes words
from English and French, as well as from a variety of local
indigenous languge. It has a small vocabularly, and a simple
grammar, so is easy to learn.
The peak Chinook Jargon usage was between about 1858 and 1900 with
an estimated 100,000 speakers. After this it declined, though continued
to be used in some business sectors into the 20th century, particularly
by members of the Arctic Club in Seattle until about 1939.
Chinuk pipa is a script for Chinook Jargon based on Duployan Shorthand/Stenography,
which was first created in 1860 by Emile Duployé as a way to write French
quickly. It was also adapted for writing English, German, Spanish and Romanian.
Father Jean-Marie Raphaël Le Jeune came to British Columbia as a missionary
in about 1879 and realised that the Latin alphabet was not ideal for writing the
Chinook languages decided to adapt Duployan Shorthand instead. He published a
newspaper, Kamloops Wawa, in Chinook Jargon written in his adapted
version of the shorthand in the 1890s, and hundreds of speakers of Chinook
Jargon learnt to read and write using this script. It was also used to publish
a number of religious and classical works, and to write diaries.
Duployan Shorthand was also adapted by Denis-Romulus Perrault, a stenographer
from Montreal, to write a number of other indigenous languages in Quebec and Newfoundland,
and is still used to write the Okanagan, Lillooet, Shushwap and North Thompson languages
in British Columbia.
Type of writing system: alphabet
Dirction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines