Salish Language Translation
Dictionary published and available at NKwusm
Nkwusm Director Tachini Pete recently had the Salish Language
Translation Dictionary published. (B.L. Azure photo)
ARLEE - NKwusm Salish
Language Immersion School Director Tachini Pete recently had a major
component of his life’s work published. For nearly 20 years know Pete
has been working on a Salish language dictionary. It was recently
published and the Salish Language Translation Dictionary is now
available for purchase.
Pete started to seriously learn the Salish
language in 1993. Through the years he had collected a lot of Salish
language materials, including notes from various language classes and
at social and cultural gatherings.
“I always took a lot of notes in classes and at
any gathering where Salish was spoken. I wrote everything down,” Pete
said. “I put everything I collected in a binder. Then people started to
ask me for copies of my notes about Salish. It was suggested that I put
everything I had together in book form. I started to do that before I
knew what form the book would be.”
Nkwusm teachers keep a close eye on the students preparing to dry meat.
(B.L. Azure photo)
Pete’s first attempt at putting all his Salish
notes together began with a booklet.
“I started to put together a booklet that listed
the English word in alphabetical order followed by the Salish
translation. That was the easiest way, English first in alpha order
then Salish,” Pete said. “I was attending Salish Kootenai College then
and spent several months working long 16 hour days working on the
booklet and going to school. I eventually got to the point where I had
about a 50-page booklet.”
Magic McDougall of Hot Springs stopped by Nkwusm Salish Language
Immersion School last week to thrill the little ones with his
magicness. (B.L. Azure photo)
The booklet was published but more was needed both
in scope and length, Pete said.
“It was then, around the end of 1998 that I
started to work seriously to formalize a process of putting all the
information I gathered together,” he said, adding that the booklet
continued to grow and eventually took on the form of the Salish
Language Translation Dictionary. It was a beefed up version of his
first attempt that not only contained the English-Salish language
translation but also the dictionary explanation of the precise meaning
of the various Salish words where nuances can turn the meaning of words
on a dime.
“From ë98 I have spent thousands and thousands of
hours of my own time working on this, compiling everything I could
about Salish,” he said.
Salish language teacher Pat Pierre says a phrase in English then his
students write what he said in Salish. Then the whole class repeats it
after the writer properly transcribes it on the board. (B.L. Azure
Now after 12 years of concerted effort by Pete,
the Salish Language Translation Dictionary was recently published in
hardback form. But that is not the end of the effort. Pete said the
dictionary remains a work in progress.
“There were several points during that time where
I thought I should quit adding to it and just publish it,” Pete said.
“The last five years have been a time of internal conflict around
whether I should publish and release this or continue to refine it. It
was the pressure from people requesting copies of this that finally
pushed me to get it published and release it to the public.”
Pete will continue to gather information on the
Salish language for updated editions as well as correct any mistakes
that may be contained in the dictionary.
Prior to the noon lunch Salish language teacher Stephen Small Salmon
led the Nkwusm students in a prayer of thankfulness for the bounty of
the season. (B.L. Azure photo)
“There are mistakes in here. I can guarantee there
are mistakes. There will be some translation-people who won’t agree
with my translations or some of the spellings but that is the nature of
the language,” Pete said. “I want to point out that in no way is this
dictionary the penultimate authority on the Salish language. It is my
own take on what I have learned through the years, my take on
interpretations of the Salish language. It is available to people so
they will have a tool to use to further their own learning of the
Salish language. I know it will beneficial as a learning tool.”
One of the foremost things contained in the
dictionary is the syntax and conjugation of the Salish language.
“This provides people with the patterns of
Salish,” Pete said. “Most of the words in it are in the various forms
of conjugation (tense, mood, person and number). There is nothing
similar out there.”
The Salish Language Translation Dictionary is
available for purchase at $45.
Smoke follows beauty. Once the pre-dry meat is cut then it is put on a
grill over smoldering wood and sometimes smoke gets in the eyes as well
as the dry meat. (B.L. Azure photo)
“In no way will I profit from this monetarily. All
proceeds will be donated to NKwusm,” Pete said.
“But I will profit from this effort in other ways. The riches come from
the times I spent with the elders researching this dictionary. That is
For more information, contact Tachini Pete at Nkwusm
Salish Language Immersion School in Arlee or call 726-5050.
The dictionary is dedicated to former Nkwusm
Salish language teacher the late Sophie “Supi” Mays and Pete’s
children, Tachini, Jr., Kayenta, Stsalqw and Staan.