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Open to anyone in the world and people of any age, you can take free online Chinook Jargon classes for college credit at Lane Community College.

For those not familiar, Chinook Jargon (also known as Chinuk Wawa, or Chinook Wawa) was the lingua francais of the Cascadia bioregion for several hundred years. It was used as a common trade language between the dozens of nations within the region, and was incorporated by early English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese immigrants, pioneers and traders who made the area their home. At its height, it had more than 100,000 speakers in the late 19th century, and spread from the lower Columbia River, first to other areas in modern Oregon and Washington, then British Columbia and as far as Alaska, taking on characteristics of a creole language. It is partly descended from the Chinook language, upon which much of its vocabulary is based.

After almost dyeing out in the late 1900’s, an active language revival by the The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s in Oregon, and other native speakers has been created to ensure that our children and community restore a part of the tribe’s heritage that was almost lost, our common language. Lane CC is struggling to keep running these Chinook Jargon classes over the years so if you or anyone you know can sign up for them, please do!

Registration doesn’t require proof of ID, proof of high school graduation or an American address. There’s up to 3 semesters taught, this semester you can sign up for class 1 (101) or 2 (201).

Class 1: – Chinuk Wawa 101

From Oct 1st to Dec 10th, meets weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 04:00 to 05:50 PM (Seattle timezone).

There is a 10 USD registration handling fee that you can pay with a credit/debit card. When you go to register for an account, you can’t use any non-English characters in your address, password or password hint otherwise it’ll bug out without giving you an error warning. When you go to pay, the page might time out and say it couldn’t complete your payment, in which case just try again.

Many words from Chinook Jargon remain in common use in the Western United States and British Columbia. The total number of Jargon words in published lexicons numbered only in the hundreds, and so it was easy to learn.  It has its own grammatical system, but a very simple one that, like its word list, was easy to learn. Jargon contains even some Hawaiian, and similarly the Jargon as spoken by a Chinese person or a Norwegian or a Scot will have been influenced by those individuals’ native-speaker terms and accents. The Chinook Jargon naturally became the first language in multi-racial households and in multi-ethnic work environments such as canneries and lumberyards and ranches where it remained the language of the workplace well into the middle of the 20th century. During the Gold Rush, Chinook Jargon was used in British Columbia by gold prospectors and Royal Engineers. As industry developed, Chinook Jargon was often used by cannery workers and hop pickers of diverse ethnic background. Loggers, fishermen and ranchers incorporated it in their jargon.

If the class is full, just put it on your waitlist and within a few days (24 hours in my case) they’ll open up new student slots and you’ll be able to pay and register.

Register Here

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