[AHL-kee] (historical) or [al-KAI] (modern) — adverb.
Meaning: Eventually; soon; someday; the future; times to come; in a little while
Origin: Chinook alkekh
The word “alki”, appeared as the slogan on the seal of Washington Territory, and is the current state motto of Washington, and is usually translated as meaning “by and by”, “soon”, “hold on”, and other connections to the future. In ordinary use it is somewhat equivalent to the Mexican Spanish mañana, meaning sometime in the near future, or an indeterminate time away, perhaps never. It can be used as a verb auxiliary indicating the indefinite future tense.
The phrase “laly alki” can be used to mean “in a while” or “some time soon” or other point in the immediate near future, as seen in “alki nesika klatawa kopa nika boat” (soon we will go in my boat) or “alki nika klatawa” (I will go soon) or “tenas alki” (in a little while).
The phrase “Iskum dolla, alki pay” (to borrow; to take out a loan) literally means get money, pay later, an apt expression if there ever was one. If you are struggling to learn something, you could confidently reassure someone by saying “nika kumtuks alki” ( I will understand eventually), while an appropriate closing to a letter would be “alki weght” (soon again).
This word is now firmly connected to Alki Point, the beach on the West Seattle peninsula where the city of Seattle began in late 1851. Historical accounts say that entrepreneur Charles Terry wanted to name the tiny settlement New York, and that someone, either a well-wisher or doubter, added Alki to the name, with the connotation of “maybe someday”.
Some time during the twentieth century the pronunciation of the second syllable changed from “kee” to “kai”, perhaps during the prohibition era due to its similarity in sound to the slang term for an alcoholic.