"scotty cooley"

David Robertson ddr11 at COLUMBIA.EDU
Sun Feb 27 00:07:16 UTC 2005

Naika tlus siks, naika tiki wawa kopa msaika,

The other day I came across a manuscript dated 1894 by a resident of
Popkum, BC, which contains mostly Upriver Halq'emeylem hymns of the
Protestant flavour.  Thus "Jesus Lover of My Soul" &c.  But as I leafed
through, I found not only an Up.Halq. vocabulary section but suddenly a
couple of pages of Chinook Jargon apparently elicited from an authoritative
speaker.  The spellings used, and some of the content, strongly suggest
this view.

One CJ term in this manuscript is "scotty cooley" for "wander".
Now, "cooley"~/kuli/~/kuri/ is a standard word throughout CJ, meaning "to
run; to travel".  And we've previously discussed Hibben's dictionary on
this list, which was created in Victoria, BC, and which contains a
term "scotty" for "crazy".  (Thus a synonym for "pelton / piltEn".)  In our
previous discussions (for which, search our archive at
listserv.linguistlist.org/archives/chinook.html), I think we got no further
than a theory that Scottish people were stereotyped as nuts in the 19th c.

When I discussed this "scotty cooley" in my CJ class this week, one of the
students had an immediate jolt of recognition: There's a word like /skati/
for "crazy" or "foolish" in at least some of the Halkomelem dialects, like
Musqueam...have I seen this in Suttles' reference grammar?  Interestingly
there are few /k/ sounds in these dialects, except in borrowed words, so
the question of the precise origin of /skati/ remains open.  A cognate form
in Saanich Salish exists, though it's different enough in form to have not
been the source of "scotty".

Maybe we can combine these two clues, the "Halkomelem" etymology and the
word's possible restriction to the Vancouver Island & lower mainland area
of BC (I glanced at Samuel Johnson's dissertation only momentarily but I
didn't notice many sources other than Hibben).  I wonder if this "scotty
cooley" were a regionalism within CJ.  Quite interesting, considering we
find "cultus cooley" as a synonym referenced by Lillard & Glavin, as well
as in local histories of the Okanagan country that I refer to in one of my

Wel, kopit ukuk naika wawa kopa msaika.  Klahawiam.  Naika nim:

--Dave R.

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