Languages | Dialects
In 1790, Uteer Chafe (1758-1806) settled in America together with his Ergynnic rtōlle sect, as the extreme beliefs which this sect held regarding rituals met with a great deal of opposition, certainly in the Roman-Catholic west of Berref, where Uteer Chafe lived (in the town of Lammafin).
They settled in a spot close to the present city of Spokane (Washington). In the next fifty years, more Spocanians emigrated to these woodlands, not because of their religious views, but simply in search of a better life. A curious creolized language developed within the impoverished and practically illiterate Spocanian community in America, incorporating both Spocanian and English elements and called Spocamerican. As the speakers were untutored and lived isolated in the forests, there are very few written sources regarding Spocamerican, and nowadays the language is all but extinct.
Therefore, it is very gratifying that, in 1991, mrs. Geneva zolufo-Orey, head of the Manuscript department of the Royal Academy in Hirdo, happened upon a scrap of paper in her library with 10 lines in Spocamerican. The unsteady handwriting reveals a person for whom writing was certainly not an everyday activity. That, as far as writing goes, his education had been in English, not in Spocanian, can be gathered from his spelling: without exception, all the words are English or else they are anglicized Spocanian, and everything conforms entirely to English orthography. Nothing in the writing betrays any knowledge of Spocanian spelling rules, while also the use of the Latin alphabet indicates that this person learned to write in the United States. Until the beginning of the 20th century, only the Pegrevian alphabet was used in Spocania.
This unique written source of Spocamerican has been examined in more detail by the Irish professor Ian O'Brien, who resided in Spocania for years and is nowadays attached to the University of Hirdo as a visiting lecturer in Celtic languages and Old Spocanian (an interesting combination!). The scrap of paper shows the date 11(?).2.1832 (11? February 1832), but this was probably written (by a librarian) after it had voyaged from America to Hirdo. According to O'Brien, the text was written by a hunter somewhere between 1820 and 1830, on American paper. He has carefully analized the text, resulting in the annotation and translation below.
Also read about the origin of the name of the American city Spokane!
Below, the 10 lines in the illustration are elucidated:
1. In ee smile thur mens sit in a smyl dur men sit in a cabin three men sit 2. Thee wait ee pitchee comen they wait a pytutū coming they wait a bear coming 3. Plurt en ef thee, he rep ee pitchee see be me plirtof one of them he reppe a pytutū see by me suddenly one of them he says a bear see by me 4. First man put sin gun an rep he shot first man put sener gun/gun and reppe he shoot/ote first man put his gun and says he shoot 5. Sec man put sin gun an shot tur rep not second man put sener gun/gun and shoot/ote tūre reppe not/nert second man put his gun and shoot but.not says not[hing] 6. Thur man rep not teer dead ee third man reppe not/nert tur dead ?is third man says not[hing] but dead is 7. Thur man my prefdeaf third man melde prefdef third man is prey 8. Sec man my workif second man melde ierquf second man is hunter 9. First man my pitchees fooder first man melde pytutūs fooder first man is bear's fooder 10. Ee pitchee my poor ef pytutū melde poir[e] the bear is living/alive
How do we interprete this story?
© De Twee Hanen v.o.f. Kimswerd The Netherlands
DA 00 SPARC 13 sep 2000