One f***-mouthed footpad!


“Dr. Syntax Stopt by Highwaymen” (this linguist’s favourite illustration of footpads) (image credit: Wikipedia)

Holy ****! Once again, West Coast CPE (Chinese Pidgin English) is all bound up with cussin’!A passing observation, before we go into a quotation of Chinese Pidgin English that’s mostly blankety blanks (so I need your help, reader, in figuring out what the **** was being said!) …

Like Chinook Jargon, this other pidgin, CPE, was used a lot in far-Western US & Canadian court proceedings.

The differences?

CPE being so similar to standard English, it got written down in the official records sometimes.

The following isn’t technically from the court reporter, but instead from a reporter in the courtroom (I love the subtleties of English).

See if you agree with me on restoring the redacted words…

criminals sentenced


Judge Murphy’s Varying Moods While on the Bench.

“You’re a footpad, sir, and richly deserve the very heaviest sentence allowed by tbe law,” said Judge Murphy yesterday when Michael Callery stood up to receive his sentence. Michael stole a gold watch from D. H. Foley, and the evidence showed that the prisoner must have waylaid him when the latter was drunk. Eight years’ imprisonment at San Quentin was the Court’s sentence.

In very different terms did his honor address Richard Cox, the colored man, who
stole S200 in gold coin from Mary E. Cox. It was Cox’s first offense, and he had been sorely tried before he fell. All this the Court admitted, and seemed to sympathize with Richard, yet the sentence was five years’ imprisonment at San Quentin.

The Judge was rather chary of words in sentencing Luey Ah Tzi, alias Ah Kow, who was caught by a policeman in the act of putting a skeleton key in the outside lock of a pawn-shop. “Seven years’ imprisonment at Folsom,” said the Judge, and then he turned aside to attend to other business. Not so with Luey. He glared at the Court, cursed under his breath in choice Chinese, then drew his hand across his throat, intimating his desire to perform a surgical operation on the Court’s jugular vein. When Luey was finally chained up and was about leaving the court-room he looked back, shook his fist at Judge Murphy’s empty seat, again made the pass across his throat and muttered in audible pigeon-English:

Heap ___ ___ ___! clut throat! Heap ___ ___ ___!

— from the San Francisco (CA) Morning Call, March 08, 1891, page 3, column 8

So that’s “Very (blank) (blank) (blank)! Cut throat! Very (blank) (blank) (blank)!”

Is my translation helpful as ****? 🙂

If you made me guess, I’d imagine each triple blank stood for a pidgin-y insult to the judge as a “son of bitch”.

What do you think?