With the principal purpose of language being to communicate with one another, we at News would like to encourage a shift that moves beyond translating all our words verbatim into English, and begin to use our languages for internal communication within our communities. This article will be the first of a series brought to you by News from Native California and the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival. It is written by Vincent Medina detailing his experiences relearning Chochenyo, the native language of San Francisco’s East Bay. This is the first article published in News from Native California in the Chochenyo language.
Hossi Melle/Hossi Šaaw
‘Uykani, ‘akwe ta-k nonwente ‘ek-noono, ‘ek-holše noono ‘i-raakat Chochenyo.
‘Išekne ‘ek-suyyakmakuš nonwente? ‘Išekne noonoy taahe? ‘Akwe ta-k hinšuštekne. ‘I-roote ta ‘ek-payyan, mak noono ‘uhti. Kaanak tašu kiš nonwentesin neppeya noonoy. Hemme ta nonwente ‘ek-noono tíita Tuuxi. ‘Ukšeerekne-k tuye tíita murut hemme ta tappe.
Huyyu, kaanak tappekne kutuš noonoy: oreš, horše, hišmen.
Kaanak čormonekne ta kii neppeya nonooy. Tiiro čormon, numa. Kaanak tašukne ‘akwe ta nonwente neppeya noonoy. Watišek. Tíita Tuuxi, tíita murut, tappe neppeya holše noonoy. Neppeya noonoy ya-roote ‘ek-waara, ‘ayye kaana kiš nonwente, kaana kiš nonwente ta-k erepu, ta-k ‘ek-rootekne ‘ek-mačinatka, ta-k ‘ek-rootekne ‘ek-ulaš.
‘Akwe ta-k taahekne neppeya noonoy, ‘aa kaanak tašukne. Hossi kaanak henwep ‘uyak.
Hossi melle, hossi šaaw.
Kaana-š-k hiitikne loškowiš ‘i-raakat John Harrington, ‘ayye kaanak taamikne waaka tíita Tuuxi. Huyyu, ya sipte ta hinšuštekne. Mak muwekma, Jose Guzman ‘ayye Angela de los Colos, kiikne Harrington ya-noonoy ‘i-rootekne Alisal, mak Rancheriatka, ‘ayye San Lorenzotka. Mak ruwwakma.
Kaanak taahekne ya-šaaw, ya-holše šaaw, ‘i-roote wax cyclinderikma. Kiš kaana roket alšip, roket horše. Kaanak taahekne neppeya noonoy ‘oyyo ‘ayye ‘oyyo. Kaana kiš Tuhru ne šaaw ‘ayye noonoy.
Irrite aččokma kiš uypikne, ‘ayye hinšušte-k irrite muwekma kiš uypiksin huššištak. Irrite horše muwekma. Kiš kaana roket alšip. Kaanak tappesin. Neesa kaanak henwep ‘ek-noono tíita Tuuxi. Nonwente-k tíita Tuuxi.
‘Akwe ta-k mayyitsum. Makkin mak hayya ta-mak hemme horše ta suyyakmakuš, hemme ya-noono, mak-noono, heemete huššištak.
Makkin mak taahe ya-holše noonoy, ‘ayye makkin mak taahe ya-holše pire, ya-holše warep.
Hossi melle, hossi šaaw, neppeya noonoy ya-roote mak payyantak. Mak-hinšuštekne ‘uyak, mak-hinšušte neesa.
Like A Grandmother/Like A Song
In the past I didn’t speak my language, my beautiful language named Chochenyo.
How did my ancestors speak? How did the words sound? I didn’t know. In my blood, however, the language lived. I knew I wanted to speak these words, with the purpose to speak the language every day. I worked hard every night to learn.
First, I learned small words: bear, good, sun.
I was scared to say these words. So scared, truthfully. I knew I wasn’t saying them right. I kept going. Every day, every night, learning these beautiful words. The words were inside me, and I talked to myself as I bathed, in my car, in my bed.
I never heard these words, but they were familiar. Like I knew them all along.
Like a grandmother, like a song.
I kept going.
I saw the papers of John Harrington, and I looked at them everyday. First, they first confused me. Our people, Jose Guzman and Angela de los Colos, told Harrington their words in Alisal, the Sunol Rancheria, and San Lorenzo. The village of our family.
I heard their songs, their beautiful songs on wax cylinder recordings. I felt very happy, very good. I listened to the words over and over, remembering the songs and the words.
Many friends helped me, and I know many more will help me. Many good people. I am grateful. I will continue to learn. Now I think the language everyday. I speak everyday.
I know I am not alone. We fight to make right for our ancestors, to make sure their language, our language, will live tomorrow.
We hear their words of beauty, we hear their world of beauty.
Like a grandmother, like a song, the words are in our blood. We knew them all along.