The great Panjandrum, the Hyu Tyee, the wonderful Pooh-Bah

Disclaimer: the following was published 50 years before Donald Trump was even born.

It is a political jab, though — against a Canadian politician named John Houston, about whom I know little.

Coming from the mining-era Kootenays of southeastern British Columbia, it shows a typical influence from, but weak understanding of, Chinook Jargon.

“Hyu Tyee” literally means “many chiefs”! Here we’re seeing how, in their status as loan-words into regional English, Chinuk Wawa’s hayu ‘many; much’ and hayas(h) ‘big’ were often confused with each other.

(This may relate to the history of “high muckymuck”…to be researched some more…)

the hyu tyee

The situation reminds us of the fable of the mud turtle who lived all his days in a swamp, where he was at once the admiration and the oracle of the various toads and other slimy denizens of the same oozy place. It is true that he occasionally presumed on his prestige by gobbling up one or the other of these worshippers, but he remained still to those who were left the great Panjandrum, the Hyu Tyee, the wonderful Pooh-bah of their world.

— from the Nelson (BC) Miner of September 21, 1895, page 3, column 2

(Note to self: get my readers to pick a standardized spelling of “high muckety-muck” [etc.], so I can index all my references to it on this site. Look for the FB poll.)

What do you think?

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