July: The Lumberjack (7ancou7er)

T’ak’t’ak mu’yin tl’a in7in’a’xe7en (Squamish language).

“Why does this language have 7’s in a lot of their words, oh Master of Languages?”

Long, long ago in the Canadian wilderness there lived a poor lumberjack whose successors would one day come to inherit and rule over the kingdom henceforth known as Vancouver. He worked each day from dawn to dusk, sunrise to sunset, feeling every muscle tense as he chopped log after log, tree after tree. Exhausted as he was, dreams gave the lumberjack great strength to continue with his work, for he could feel the wind blowing reward and happiness his way. It was only a matter of time.

Many moons had passed since those early days, and now the lumberjack was married and had a son of his own, called Wolf Claw. One night, as his wife cradled the newborn to sleep in their humble log cabin, softly humming a Squamish lullyby, the lumberjack likewise drifted into a deep slumber, such was the power of their ancestor’s words.

You see, while Squamish “was historically an oral language”, having been passed down from generation to generation by solely the spoken word for as long as anyone could remember, it was slowly adjusting to the ways of the New World, and developing a written form. The lumberjack felt proud to be learning how to read and write at last. Sometimes, strange words crept into his subconscious mind, and he awoke with symbols of the future imprinted in his memory. When Wolf Claw was older, he would pass along this valuable knowledge of signs and symbols.

Late into the night he slept, allowing time and space for his aching muscles to rest. Moon beams slanted across the earthen floor, inching ever so gradually to the other side of the room, following their own journey and path.

Suddenly, the lumberjack stirred in his sleep, shouting aloud. “My dearest, what is it?” His wife cried, shaking him awake. “7ancou7er! I have seen the sign! Wolf Claw need not suffer like us! The Great Wind has spoken! He will be a strong and powerful leader of a new land!”

The two embraced in the moonlight, silently weeping tears of joy so as not to wake the infant. 7ancou7er? Only the future could know what it meant. And only an elementary teacher would realize that the lumberjack had confused a V with the number 7.

*Another possible explanation: “7 glottal stop. It is found in a few words in English like, “mutton” or “button”, or Cockney English “bottle”, or beginning each “uh” in “uh-uh” (the sound meaning “no”), or the sound beginning “earns” in “Mary earns” when pronounced differently from “Mary yearns.”