Your Chinook Wawa Word of the Day: Hiyu


[hi-YU’] or [hy-IU’] — adjective, noun.

Meaning:  Much; many; lots of; plenty; enough (to go around), abundance.

Origin: Nuu-chah-nulth, iyahish; Toquaht, aiya

Used with reference to quantity and numbers rather than size or degree, the term hiyu is used to describe “many”, “several” or “lots of” something,

If one went to a convention or party, one would expect a “hiyu tillikum” (crowd, lots of people, a big party), and likely experience “hiyu wawa” (much talk; clamor). Even if one was “hiyu chee” (entirely new) they would reasonably expect there to be  “hyiu muckamuck” (plenty of food), or at least “kopet hiyu” (enough) for all of the “hiyu tillikums kopa house” (audience; many people in house).

Hiyu can also be modified with other worlds to show lesser degree, such as “tenas hyiu” (some; a few) or “wake hyiu” (not many; not much). Also, though the word “town” was used in Chinook Wawa, it was not uncommon to hear of anything from a village to a city described as “hiyu house”.

While less common nowadays, hiyu is still heard in some places to refer to a big party or gathering of people, as in Lillooet’s one-time annual “The Big Hiyu” (also known as “The July”), a week-long joint celebration of Dominion Day and the Glorious Fourth in the Fraser Canyon town of Lillooet, featuring horse races, gambling, a rodeo and other festivities. Of a similar nature, Hi-Yu is a non-profit organization established in 1934 by West Seattle’s service clubs to produce a summer festival to promote the West Seattle Community, which celebrates the month of July with the HiYu Summer Festival.

It is worth noting that some historical accounts list the word “hyo” as meaning “ten” in the early Jargon used at Nootka Sound. Some Jargon scholars believe that the words “hyas” and “hiyu” share the same origin and only one or the other may have been known or used in certain areas or periods.

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