Yesterday, Kirstyn and Thomas, two of our Chinuk WAYK game leaders had an email conversation. I include it below to illustrate the comprehensive, simple genius of the WAYK game for revitalizing language. We encourage people to start just with speaking, and putting off any reading or writing till later, because of the easy magic that eventually happens when you’re “ready” for it. To wit:

Kirstyn wrote:

Evan, Eric and Thomas,
On Saturday, Rebecca and I presented an introduction to Chinuk Wawa to the Young Interpreters Training Program.  These were 18 girls and some adult aids in the first year class.

Thomas, a Chinuk Wawa WAYK game leader responded to her announcement:

ɬaxayam kirstyn, tʰaməs ukuk.  hayu masi pus mash nayka ukuk t’wax-post.
drət ɬush msayka munk-kəmtəks chinuk wawa kʰapa ukuk tənəs-ɬuchmən. ixt pi ixt tilixam chaku-kəmtəks chinuk wawa. nayka təmtəm ɬush pus msayka wawa chinuk kʰapa chutxwa. aɬqi.

Kirstyn replied:

This is challenging since I don’t read yet [emphasis added], but let me see if I can understand… Hello, Kirstyn, Thomas here.  Thank you for including me in your message.  Good that you are teaching chinuk wawa to those little women.  Little by litte people get to know chinuk wawa.  I think it good that you(pl) speak chinuk at Fort Vancouver.  Later.

It looks like you understand perfectly to me, Kirstyn!

Written by Evan Gardner

1 Comment


I understood some of that just from playing along with a few of the Chinuk Wawa videos on the website. Point taken.

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