Pooch (1877) (??)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Sep 2 03:00:31 UTC 2003

 From MoA (Michigan):

James Fowler Rusling, _The Great West and Pacific Coast_ (1877): pp. 268-9:
describing Chinese in Portland, Oregon:

<<Here at Portland, John Chinaman turned up again, and seemed to be
behaving thoroughly well. .... In walking about the town, we occasionally
came upon their signs, over the door of some humble dwelling, as for
example, "Ling & Ching, Laundry;" "Hop Kee, washing and ironing;" "Ching
Wing, shoemaker;" " Chow Pooch, doctor;" etc.>>

The Chinese names are perhaps fanciful syllables, but all of them except
"Pooch" are possible Chinese names (Cantonese), I think. "Pooch" however is
not a reasonable way to write any syllable in any major Chinese dialect AFAIK.

I speculate that "Chow Pooch" is a deliberate joke, with "Chow" = "chow" =
"chow chow", either in the sense "[Chinese] food"/"eat" or naming a breed
of dogs (both senses were known by 1877), and with "pooch" = "dog": either
the joke is innocent with "Chow Pooch" = "chow dog" or it is a sly
reference to the Chinese use of dogs as food animals with "Chow Pooch" =
"eat dog".

But I can't be absolutely sure!

-- Doug Wilson

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