1897: Yust for fun: Scandihoovian dialect humor

Dialect comedy was ultra-popular in the 1800s, and Scandinavian dialect comedy became a big trend in the post-frontier Pacific Northwest.

Here’s a mock-Scandinavian immigrant character, “Kettle Kettleson”, being used to poke fun at a populist movement in early Washington state.

Because this site is all about language contact in the PNW, I feel I have a license to showcase some of this ridiculous stuff once in a while 🙂 Today’s bit is a perfect parallel to goofy filler pieces I’ve shown you in Chinook Jargon and Chinese Pidgin English.

If you’re too young to recall Yogi Yorgesson singing “Yingle Bells“, or if you’re one of my actual Scandinavian readers — good luck understanding what follows.

One hint: “boodle panger” means “lots of money”.


Kettle Kettleson on Passes.

Kettle Kettleson contributes the following proposed law to the Olympian, which he will introduce to the legislature :

Sexshun 1. Dar ban hereby kreated a bord, kalled bord of relrod passes.

Sexshun 2. De bord skal konsist on five mambers, en hae skal hold hees offices yust so long es hae kan do de beesnis, if hae don’t di.

Sexshun 3. Efry mamber skal hav tusen dolar salry efry yar, vich skal be paid by relrod kompany en kash, gude panger, efry week.

Sexshun 4. Efry poplest falar ho got offices een state of Vashington skal hol relrod pass; en efry poplest member on legislatoor skal hol two passes.

Sexshun 5. Ven falar loose pass hae skal rade yust the sam, provided hae kan proov hae ban gude poplist; en provided furder, ef hae got two jeers viskers, et skal be primy fashy exclusiv evdens det hae ban poplest ed gude stan oop.

Sexshun 6 Ef relrod refoos to let falar rade on pass, or viskers, hae skal go en yail bay Valla Valla et hard labor for tra yar, en de relrod skal be konfwiskated.

Sexshun 7. De bord skal isso passes right avay, en de first yob of de state printer skal be to prent de passes[.] Provided det de state prenter may hire al de help hae vants so hae kan do de bizness qvik.

Sexshun 8 Des ack skal take effect yust so soon es et pass one house, en skal not be subjek to weto bay de govnor.

Sexshun 9. Des ack skal be approved bay de mamber ho entrodoos de bill.

Sexshun 10 Dese law skal be en effeck yust so long es de poplest got mayorety en legislator; eny tame ven rapublikans get mayorety de law ban repealed right avay.

Vareas, en offul submergencies exists vareby planty poplest falar have to putet oop gude panger to kom bay kapetol on relrud, now derfor dese ack skal take effeck from and sense de last elexshun een Nowember, en ery falar’s money skal be paid back rate avay qvick on demand bay de relred kompony, or go to yail.


Ay yust tal yu ho et ban sens ay kom bay kapetol. Ay gets offul muts desgusted de va tangs ban goin on. Et ban des va: Ay get no relrod pass, so eav to bring mae jellow nag to drave home vid, ven legislator adyourns. Et kosta mae plenty panger var ay leev bay burden hus, en ay mak kontrak vid lanlord ay skal pa hem yust so qvick ay get mi stet vorrent salary.

Vel, ay ban vurken bote. two veeks on legeslatoor en ay don’t get a dem sent. De don’t ban any mona een de stet trasry so de vorrent kan be kesht’ e[n] de lanlord sa ay ban trod out naxt veek ef ay don’t mak a rais.

Ay vurk vun tam sex munt en saw mell, en vate for pa vile de yingles be in shipt, en fon de mona kom bak a resever falar get een for boss en ol do mona ventet hal vest en kroket.

Et ban youst de sam nu; ay tank rasever boss ban pointed on stet trasry, en mae vorruts don’t ban vert mor es Yeff Davis postag stamp. So ay tank ay vel look runde leeta for boodle panger; ay got to turn honest dolar som va, or ay ban trode ote borden [h]us bay lanlord. Ay tal Maester Sqvire letst veek ef hae don’t loosen oop en tra days, hes boom ban busted hier es kite. Fore lecshun hae ban toeken bote hwixteen to vun en now ay ban de vun, en ay lake to get som of de hwixteen, Ven tam kom to wote for junited stets senter, ay wote first tam for Tumbler Overson, en two tra tams far Deeg Potaterson, en naxt da for Lilak Halson, en oder falars, en yust ven ay get efry tang redy ay yump to Sqvire, en get bote tusen dolor boodle panger, har kom krasy kus en entrodoos retolushun det efry falar ho ban kandidate for senter got to svares hae don’t tray to enflooens enybody to wote for hem.

Yehovela kreesmas, des maket mae offul mad ol over. A[y] vould youst so qvick tray to haul sawlog vid two yackas hitset oop vid nest of jellow yackets en pare pole skunk kats, es to tray to do biznes vid sooch a fool lot of falar ho blong en dese legeslatoor.

Som dese meddle erode poplest don’t got so mutch sens es Ingun Yulia, en tank de kan stend off de lanlord vid renishetive en enfernalrendum, Gude bi.         KETTLE KETTLESON.

— from the Shelton (WA) Mason County Journal of February 5, 1897, page 1, column 6

What do you think?