Hanis Coos recordings from 1941 at Smithsonian

John Peabody Harrington was an eccentric yet talented linguist whose decades of work recorded numerous indigenous languages – including Hanis, Siuslaw-Lower Umpqua and some Milluk in 1942. Other Oregon languages he worked on in the 1930s and 40s include several dialects of Athabaskan (Klatskanie, Upper Coquille, Galice Creek, Upper Umpqua, Chetco and lower Rogue River), Takelma, Tillamook and Alsea. In 1941, Harrington sent his young assistant Jack Marr ahead to make sound recordings of some native speakers on what was then state-of-the-art recording equipment, aluminum discs. He made some recordings of Louey Fuller in Tillamook, John Albert in Alsea, and Frank Drew in Hanis Coos (and possibly some Siuslaw, but I have yet to go through all of the recordings to determine that. Dad wrote about Jack Marr’s adventures in recording on page 293 of his book (see here). Marr was given a list of word prompts to ask his informants. In his Coos work, he did ask Frank Drew many words. The recordings are all here online at the Smithsonian. The first 8 recordings are all songs. After that they include recordings of short speeches and individual words. Unfortunately the sound quality is generally not good. It can be hard at times to understand both the English prompts and the native words. Hopefully the recordings can be manipulated with software to see if they can be made any clearer. Still, it is interesting to listen to these recordings (as sometimes they are comprehensible). So take a listen if you are curious! The links here are all to the Coos recordings. If you do other searches you will find Galice Creek, Tillamook (under the heading “Siletz”) and Alsea recordings.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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