1889 Oregon CPE: Jesus appears

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(Image credit: lexingtonoregon.com)

Again with the cussing, pidgin-speaking, Chinese immigrants — ?!

I sometimes wonder why Chinuk Wawa speakers aren’t nearly so often represented as cussing…and then I remember that racism against Asians was even more “pure id” than all the other rampant racisms of late-frontier America.

This local story from Oregon brings us a couple of new words for our treasury of West Coast Chinese Pidgin English data.

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Lexington [Morrow County, Oregon] Budget: The last heard of the Chinaman with whom a hand car ran away last week was, “What’s e malla — whoa — no sabbee — gottam hol’ on — on [SIC, for ‘no’] sabbee — jesuclish — whoa — no sabbee — no sabbee.[“]

— from the Albany (OR) State Rights Democrat of February 8, 1889, page 4, column 6

I take the above to mean ‘What the matter — whoa — (I) don’t understand — got to (or ‘god damn’?) hold on — (I) don’t understand — Jesus Christ — whoa — (I) don’t understand — (I) don’t understand.’

The ‘Jesus Christ’ and the potential ‘god damn’ would have been especially shocking and repellent to the White, Christian majority in the late 19th-century West, as hardly any Chinese immigrants had yet converted to Christianity.

What do you think?