Welcome to the Saiwosh website

  • change log
  • links

  • pronunciation and grammar
  • vocabulary
  • sample texts
  • sound file
  • Updated April 11, 2004
    change log

    May those who come after us develop Chinook Jargon still further until it becomes a world language, for it is easily understood and spoken by men of many tongues and has a flexible quality that is really remarkable.


    Chinook Jargon was a trading pidgin, a simplified language devised by Northwest Indians and white pioneers, based on a Native American language, Lower Chinook, mixed with other native tongues as well as French and English words.

    It emerged in the eighteenth century, and it is estimated that in the nineteenth century, at the peak of its usage, it was spoken by about a hundred thousand people between Alaska and northern California. It almost disappeared in the twentieth century, leaving only traces of its former existence.

    For the people who are interested in historic Chinook Jargon, Jeffrey Kopp's website is a must. Outstanding, and many good links. It includes George Shaw's famous dictionary of Chinook Jargon. Another very interesting site is Mike Cleven's, with plenty of very interesting data and good ideas. Jim Holton's website is also worth visiting.

    Saiwosh is a language derived from Chinook Jargon. Not a single Saiwosh word is an a priori construction. Most of the original vocabulary has been retained, and all the additional root-words are derived from the source-languages of Chinook Jargon: Lower Chinook and several Native American languages of the area where Chinook Jargon was spoken, like Klallam, Tlingit, Nisqually, Thomson and others, and also the French and English of the white settlers.

    Most of those loan-words had their pronunciation altered to fit Saiwosh phonetics. Sometimes, their meanings were also modified.

    Rather than a constructed language, Saiwosh is a constructed dialect, and a modest intellectual pursuit. I wondered what Chinook Jargon could have evolved into, if it had become the everyday language of a modern, monolingual community.

    Description of Saiwosh:

    This site is not only about Saiwosh, it is also about me, Frank Legros. If you wish to contact the author, don't hesitate!