1905: John McLoughlin’s old definition of “cultus” is a mystery for us
If we can assume the following quotation from the Hudsons Bay Company’s Dr. John McLoughlin (1784-1857) is genuine, where did the newspaper get it from?
The Doctor glaring at somebody cultus (image credit: National Park Service)
I haven’t succeeded at finding it in any other source.
And it’s unclear where the quotation ends, because the newspaper forgot closing quotation marks.
It’s an unusual treat if we get to hear the Doctor discussing Chinuk Wawa!
THE POWER OF LANGUAGE OF BY
GONE DAYS. — Oh what a difference the
same word may mean in divers
tongues! For instance, take the word
“Cultus.” It means, according to our
best dictionaries, “A state of relig-
ious, etherical or esthetic develop-
ment,” and “A system of religious
belief and worship;” either of which
convoys as idea of something sacred.
Now take it in the classic Chinook,
according to Dr. McLaughlin, a Hud-
son Bay Company’s factor, fifty years
ago. Cultus defined by him, as an
adjective, meant “Low, depraved
mean, worthless, bad, treacherous,
double-dealing, infamous, scoundrelly,
thieving, dirty, debased, lazy, thought
less, shiftless, or anything else that
is superlatively bad, and which the
usually expressive English vocabulary
fails to cover in all its amplitude. To
call a human being cultus was to place
upon him the brand of Cain. Just
point the slow unmoving finger of
scorn at any poor human being, and
utter with heavy-villain emphasis,
hyas cultus, and he is (or was in the
olden days) done for, both for time
— from the Olympia (WA) Washington Standard of January 27, 1905, page 2, column 2