Disaster to Coffee Johnson

Nooksack news.Quoting in full:
disaster to coffee johnson.PNG

Disaster to Coffee Johnson.

Deming Prospector.

Yesterday Coffee Johnson lost or mislaid his dinner pail. You’d a though[t] he was “kilt intoirely.” “Hiyu hell! muck-a-muck klatawha! Halo mamook!” and several more of the same sort rent the air, until Coffee was placed in full and undisputed possession of his overperfumed lard bucket, which he proceeded to empty like a lake steamer discharging a cargo at Buffalo.

— from the Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer of November 28, 1899, page 4, column 5

“Kilt intoirely” (killed entirely) was a popular catchphrase that stereotyped Irish speech, in an era when both Indians and immigrants were freely mocked in the press. About the earliest occurrence I find in American literature is in an 1883 short fiction titled “The O’Brady’s Celebration: A Fourth-of-July Story” by Elizabeth Bigelow.

Coffee (is that a Chinuk Wawa name?) Johnson was a well-known local Nooksack Indian character. He’s remembered in the community to this day.

There’s every reason to infer that < hell > is a Chinook Jargon word, just one that’s been undocumented till now. This language was characterized by being used in totally informal settings…and we’ve found plenty other words that were considered cusses in English and avoided in writing, but well-preserved in the amber of the Jargon. (“Tits“, “shit“, “piss“…) It’s probably significant that only in quoting an Indigenous person is “hell” printed in full, rather than bleeped into “h—“…

Looking at Mr. Johnson’s Jargon in some more detail — note that the editor doesn’t expend superfluous effort translating it for savvy local readers:

Hiyu hell! muck-a-muck klatawha! Halo mamook!
háyú hél! mə́kʰmək łátwa! hílu mámuk!
much hell! food go! nothing do!
‘Hell and blazes! [My] food’s gone! Nothing doing!’

What do you think?
Kahta mika tumtum?

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