George Morley, amateur detective

Readers of the anthropological literature, including dictionaries of Indigenous languages, may be familiar with scholars’ use of delicately italicized Latin: it’s to express the racier bits to their in-group readers.

Exempli gratia:

Coyote ran down to the river and extended his membrum virile, in order to intercept the basket…

— page 223 of Leo J. Frachtenberg (ed.), “Shasta and Athapascan Myths from Oregon, Collected by Livingston Farrand”, Journal of American Folk-lore XXVIII(CIX):207-242 (July-September 1915)

Et mutatis mutandis:

kʾºatƛʾ futuere. — / kʾºatƛʾ-an ‘id.; tr.’

— page 77 of Aert Kuipers, “The Squamish Language: Grammar, Texts, Dictionary / Part 2” (The Hague: Mouton, 1969)

Well, Chinuk Wawa rejoiced in a parallel conventional use among literate English-speakers of the later frontier period in the Pacific Northwest. If you could both read and lived in the PNW, at one time you were assumed to comprehend news articles.

Observe in the following — a fine-grained distinction to think of is, which Chinook Jargon words get italicized?

George Morley Chinook speaker

With my footnotes:

A Detective Fallen.

     The only guest at the Cadi’s [1] reception this morning was Geo. Morley, a man with a history. The famous Sunbury murder is still fresh in the minds of the readers of THE WORLD, and Morley is the man who earned the Government reward for hunting down the murderers. Morley, when sober, is as sharp as a steel trap, but when drunk he is a drivelling idiot. He was in the latter condition when he went down to the rancherie on Monday night and kicked on [sic] the door of Frank Cape Mudge’s shack. He had a bottle of whisky and asked Frank’s klootch [2] to have a drink. She at first requested him to chaco to Hades [3], but afterwards just took a tenas pahtlam [4]. Had she continued to resist temptation it would have been better for amateur detective Morley, but as she accepted the libation he was called on this morning to pay the penalty imposed by the Act for supplying Indians with firewater – $50 and costs, and, not having the chickamin [5], he will put in a month working for the city. Morley, it may be said, is one of the best Chinook and Indian dialect talkers on the coast. 

[1] cadi: ‘judge’, from Arabic 🙂

[2] klootch [not italicized]: ‘woman, wife’ — an English borrowing from Jargon

[3] chaco to Hades: ‘go to hell’

[4] tenas pahtlam: ‘little drunk [sic]; little swig’

[5] chickamin: ‘cash’

In case you’re heading off track and thinking this article quoted anyone’s actual Chinuk Wawa utterances, nope, I lean towards thinking these words are purely the work of the newspaper editor. They add the narrative coloration appropriate for a character like Morley.

The possibility exists that Morley told the judge that these words were used between himself and the woman, but we can’t assume so with confidence.

So the most authority these words can have for us is as a locus classicus Chinooki 😉 

Much appreciation to Sam for sharing this historic BC newspaper article!