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In 1790, Uteer Chafe (1758-1806) settled in America together with his Ergynnic Ÿrtōlle 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 Ÿzolufo-Orešy, 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. The verbatim text on the paper is printed in black;

  2. The elements constituting this Spocamerican are printed in blue: English words in principle, but when it is clearly a question of Spocanian words they are underlined. Sometimes a word may possibly be English as well as Spocanian, for instance shot in line 4;

  3. Of the blue line, a word for word translation is given in red.

 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  pytšutū 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  pytšutū 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/šote
    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/šote 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 pytšutūs fooder
    first man is    bear's   fooder

10. Ee  pitchee my    poor
    ef  pytšutū melde poir[e]
    the bear    is    living/alive


  1. Three men sit in a cabin
  2. They wait until a bear is coming
  3. Suddenly one of them shouts: I see a bear
  4. The first man takes his gun and says that he shoots
  5. The second man takes his gun but says nothing
  6. The third man says nothing but falls dead
  7. The third man is the prey
  8. The second man is the hunter
  9. The first man is the food for the bear
  10. The bear is still alive

How do we interprete this story?

© De Twee Hanen v.o.f. • Kimswerd • The Netherlands

DA 00 • SPARC 13 sep 2000