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BEACH-LA-MAR

THE JARGON OR TRADE SPEECH OF THE _WESTERN PACIFIC

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BY

WILLIAM CHURCHILL

Sometime Consul-General of the United States in Samoa and Tonga, Member of the Polynesian Society, the Hawatian Historical

Society, the American Philological Association

PUBLISHED BY THE CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON

1911

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2HE JARGON OR TRADE SPEECH OF THE WESTERN PACIFIC

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CHAPTER I. PARENTAGE OF THE JARGON.

Jargon is the speech of necessity. It is like its mother in that it knows not the law by which it is rigidly governed.

A jargon is a speech of chips and fragments seized wherever found and used to such end as may be accomplished by brute force of sheer insistence. Because its origin lies in the need of simple men for the communication of a selection of their most simple ideas a jargon is rude, it is vivid, it is picturesque. Not only does it avail to show us to what lowest terms a superior speech may be reduced and yet serve as language, but it affords us a valuable insight into the machinery and method of the language of the more primal type which stands as the party of the second part in every such speech.

For each jargon has grown into being as the speech of the marches, the language of the borderland.

By this we do not mean the bilingual zone which exists along political boundary lines where empires of two speech families come together and evade the sentry and the customs officer in a friendly smuggling. Where a jargon arises and attains currency there must be a marked distinction in the cultural and in the intellectual planes of the two languages which march together. This speech osmosis is most active in the case where the relatively inferior man of the superior speech and culture is brought in small numbers into contact with larger masses of folk of the lower development but of more consistent average attainment to the maximum of that development. In other words, we are to note that the savage maintains much the higher average; no member of such a community falls so far short as to be regarded as ignorant by his fellows. Under usual social condi- tions this contrast of two cultures out of which jargon tends most readily to come into being is most commonly attained by the contact of our sailors with the savage or imperfectly civilized communities.

In such cases it is well to bear in mind the classic of the scrivener— it is the party of the first part who doth grant, assign and convey; it is the party of the second part who most doth have and hold. { Our sailor party of the first part is of the unlettered class, he has no ) illu-

sions about the niceties of language, his speech is not nice at all. An 1

2 BEACH-LA-MAR.

inflection, a shade of meaning, a canon of grammar—he is perfectly ready to sacrifice them all if only he may succeed in making himself in some sort comprehended. Placed in the same situation the phil- ologist, the amateur of the preciosity of speech, would be dead in the misunderstanding in about the time that it would take the sailor to establish a thriving business on the beach in which iron nails serve each as price for a log of sandalwood worth its weight in silver. Under this stimulation—and beads are good trade, too—the savage is avid to acquire the sailor’s speech and to teach his own. Thus jargon best, most commonly, begins. *

Of the jargons, artificial yet valuable languages, we list the follow- ing as among the most conspicuous examples.

First in order of time, and ona Latin base, was the Lingua Franca of the Venetians and Genovese in the Levant, when those Italian ports served empires of commerce. By an odd portage among the crews of the adventurous fleets of Prince Henry the Navigator, the Portuguese (Portingales in the speech of their English rivals) carried this jargon to the Malay seas, where it underwent new growth in the admixture of Indonesian elements and lives in ready currency.

Next arose the trade language of the treaty ports of China, the still existing Pidgin. Here the base is English. The conditions under which it came into being are beautifully typical. The English were not of that order of mind which might set itself to the task of acquir- ing the highly cultivated language of the Middle Kingdom; nor on the terms of their scantily tolerated residence at a few mean points, whose infamy was notorious matter of local knowledge, did they have the time to engage upon such study. Scorning the inferior foreign culture which was so lacking in the dignity of courtesy, the Chinese were disposed to acquire only so much of the new language as might serve them in business, and a sympathy which can see beneath the unruffled calm of Chinese benignity will have no diffi- culty in discerning the pleasures of disdain with which consciously they mutilated the English speech and when they charily added a word or two of their own were sedulous to draw it from the polluted speech of the most ignoble classes.

Of about the same period, but on the other shore of the Pacific, we next note the Chinook, the jargon of the fur trade, of the sailors upon the sea and the no less adventurous voyageurs du bois. Here the conditions were somewhat different; the fur-trader usually estab- lished himself in approximately permanent relations with some nomadic community of Indians and accompanied them in their wan- derings over somewhat well delimited territory. For this reason the great mass of this jargon is derived from several Indian languages— each, however, subjected to the typical and necessary mutilation. The external element is fairly divisible between an English and a

PARENTAGE OF THE JARGON. 3

French source, for if the Astoria trappers were users of English the rangers of the Hudson’s Bay Company were preponderantly French or Breeds. As showing that the importance of jargon study was early recognized, we may note in passing that among the earliest of the publications of the Smithsonian Institution in its youth was the Gibbs dictionary of Chinook.

Our next example in chronological order is the Beach-la-mar jargon of the southern and western Pacific islands with a certain extension to the nearest littoral of Australia. It is this which is to engage our attention in this study and may therefore be postponed in this summary schedule.

In the Guianas the Negro English, a magma of an already jar- goned mass from various African sources, now mingled with English and other European material, has been in such use that it has advanced toward respectability: the Scriptures have been printed in the language.

Within thirty years a wonderful expansion has taken place in a jargon on the west coast of Africa, the Krooboy. The base of this is English, but fragments have been caught up from many sources, African and European, along a thousand leagues of Gold Coast, Ivory Coast, Palm Coast. The spread of this new and rapidly grow- ing jargon is due to the fact that merchant vessels find it econom1- cally advantageous to supplement their crews with drafts of Kroomen for the heavy work of handling cargo on unwholesome beaches.

It would not be pertinent to the present topic to essay the making of a complete list of these languages, lustyin spite of the bend sinister. We might readily add the Gombo and the Cajun of Louisiana, the batard French of Haiti, the Papimiento and other mixed tongues of the West Indies, much of the Spanish of Mexico and of the Latin republics. The few which have been presented with a brief note in the foregoing paragraphs have been introduced solely for the purpose of showing that jargons have a respectable history and that in the present time the actuating causes are still potent to create new jargons when the conditions are meet. |

Our present study shall be directed upon the Beach-la-mar, a jargon of wide extent but of scanty record; for it has come to its growth in a plane far below that in which interest in speech for itself becomes active. Thus it has lacked its historian, its records are scattered through a few books of travel in the South Sea whensoever the crudities of its diction have seemed to the recorder sufficiently droll to add a comic touch to descriptive pages. Even of record of such sort we find but a brief collection, as will be shown in the notes and bibliography following the vocabulary of this treatise.

There seems no limit to the life of the spoken word; anything which pretends to be speech lives on and on and may appear long

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4. BEACH-LA-MAR.

after and faraway. While this sketch of the Beach-la-mar was taking shape the jargon phraseology was reproduced on the witness stand in the New York Supreme Court. The witness had solemnly averred that King Johnson of a Solomon island “has been going to col- lege for forty years and he can read and write as well as any one aboard ship.” The statement lacks verisimilitude, but no such default attaches to the further testimony of the witness that this savage monarch addressed him in the following terms: ‘‘ Long fellow man he come ashore, he tell me plenty yarn.”’

The name of this jargon gives us some clew to its place and time and manner of origin. Beach-la-mar is the common sailor mispro- nunciation of béche-de-mer, a name applied to the edible trepang, which, as a delicacy to palates sufficiently acute to enjoy the niceties of its faint flavor, fetches a high price in the Chinese markets. At the time of the beginning of the commercial exploitation of the islands of the South Pacific the reefs and lagoon shallows in these archipelagoes, more particularly from Fiji along the chains of islands of the Western Pacific, abounded in these holothurians. Now, although the demand remains as great as ever, these reefs are unpro- ductive; they have been fished bare in the absence of a reasonable system of protection of this sluggish game. It is only in Fiji, with its recent British government, that any attempt has been made to restore the depleted waters and under proper supervision to provide a source of revenue for the islanders.

The manner of the first commercial exploitation of the islands we shall find germane to the consideration of the genesis of the mixed speech which grew out therefrom. The great voyages of European explorers, bent upon the discovery of the secrets of the Pacific, reached their period of greatest activity in the middle and in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Voyages there had been before that. Gaetano found the eight islands of the Hawaiian group and left no record save a few names dotted on his chart of the way of the Manila galleon upon the sea. Quiros and Mendajia sailed for the gold of Ophir in the Solomon Islands; they even colonized in the northern bay of Espiritu Santo the half-mythical city of a New Jerusalem at the mouth of a River Jordan; but their work lacked permanence in itself and made no appeal to other adventurers. In like manner the exploration of the Pacific did not cease with Cook and Vancouver. In the early years of the nineteenth century no less lustre was shed by the voyages of the unfortunate La Pérouse and of Dumont d’Urville. That century was more than a generation old when Wilkes cleared up the secrets which had escaped the zeal of the long line of his glorious predecessors.

Upon the track of these many voyages of scientific geography flocked fleets of commercial geographers, merchant seamen intent

PARENTAGE OF THE JARGON. 5

upon a lading and a market. First of these came the whalers, three years the normal term of their voyages from the southern ice cap to the gelid barriers of the north and searching all the warm parallels of the equatorial seas between these frozen extremes, their prey the right whale and the cachalot. How they crowded these waters after exploration had opened the hidden secrets may be seen in one of the dashing exploits of not the least of those captains courageous who made the American navy great when it was a fleet of wood and snowy canvas and stout hearts: Commodore David Porter cut himself loose from orders, drove the Essex around Cape Horn, harried the Pacific until he had driven off all the Dundee whalemen. Before his work was done he was flag officer of a squadron of prizes armed to fight with him so deep in its draft upon his wardroom country that David Glasgow Farragut was in command of a fighting ship while yet he was a midshipmite.* How long the whaling industry con- tinued at a profit in these remote seas may be estimated from the fact that, in his exhaustive studies of log books from the Pacific, Matthew Fontaine Maury found the data from which to compile a chart of the whales known to frequent those waters, and, even before they had sailed from Fairhaven, from Nantucket or the Vineyard, thus to direct the eager hunters to the most profitable feeding- grounds. This was as late as the years just preceding the war in which the call of his native State drew this great Virginian from the science of oceanography, which he had discovered, and wasted him in the clash of arms.

To any one familiar with the sea under conditions of voyaging where the hand is prompt to throw the spoke to meet the flicker of the after leach of some sail far aloft, it will be readily comprehensible that in the whaling fleet we are to find little of the beginnings of our Beach-la-mar. Other ships take the sea bound ‘‘from and toward,”’ to cite the prepositions duly entered on the pages of every log book. It is port which they are seeking, the sea is but the way. But port

*We may not omit a brief note of a forgotten chapter of our national history. Our widely scattered possessions in the Pacific, colonies or dependencies or whatever name may be assumed to make constitutional the fruit of war, Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam, the Philippines, and Samoa, belong to us by title deeds little advanced into their second decade. Only a few days short of a century ago Commodore Porter, neglected when not pursued by the active spite of the Commissioners of the Navy, foresaw the Pacific needs of those United States which had only in outposts here and there reached the Missis- sippi. In the course of these operations of the Essex he annexed the Marquesas by solemn act of national sovereignty. This deed of wise prescience was neglected, not even disowned. On the site of Fort Madison at his newly founded capital city of Washington- ville in the Bay of Taiohae in Nukahiva I have delved in vain for the bottled and buried copy of the proclamation of annexation. The filed copy has vanished from the government archives; we may draw the conclusion that it fluttered into the waste paper basket from the hands of that Secretary of State whose name is forever attached to the Monroe Doctrine as—after Washington’s ‘“‘avoid all entangling alliances’’—the first formula of our foreignpolicy. This history is most obscure. The result of a very close study of the records is presented by Commander E. L. Beach, U.S. N., in The Pioneer of America’s Pacific Empire: David Porter,’ in‘‘ United States Naval Institute Proceedings XXXIV.”

6 BEACH-LA-MAR.

must ever irk the whaleman; he must keep the sea as long as he may; the haven where other ships would be is to him but the place in which to refit with wood and water to equip him for another campaign against the gigantic mammals of fathomless ocean. His contact with the shoreward folk must besobrief asto leave little permanent record. Thus it is in the Beach-la-mar; only a few expressions or words do I find it at all necessary to accredit to whalers’ influence, and those in no more than a secondary position.

Whaling, it should be explained, now that the industry is all but extinct, was conducted in a fashion different from merchant seafaring; it paid the whalemen on a basis of sharing in the catch. The unit was the lay. Each sailor, according to his rating on the ship’s articles, was entitled to a lay representing a fixed large or small share in the avails of the catch. Accordingly it was the best economy to send the vessel out from her home port with only so many men as would serve to work her around the stormy capes past which were the whaling-grounds. Arrived in the Pacific it was the custom to recruit boat’s crews from the islanders, engaged for a wage ridiculously small and without reward from the catch. From these islanders, thus thrown for months into intimacy with the sailors, Polynesian words were acquired to facilitate intercourse, and the islanders themselves picked up some slight familiarity with broken English interrupted by such Polynesian words as the sailors had thought it easy or amusing to acquire. Discharged somewhere at the end of the whaling voyage these men, now become competent seamen and somewhat proficient interpreters, engaged for new voyages, either through their enjoyment of the life or in the hope that at some haphazard time they might reach their homes. It is to their influence that we may best ascribe the presence of Polynesian words readily recognizable as such in the Beach-la-mar, a speech designed to facilitate communication with Melanesian peoples to whom the Samoan and the Hawaiian are as foreign and incomprehensible as is the English. For we should note that there never was a permanent jargon based upon English and Polynesian.* ‘Thus in the vocabulary we note such words as katkaz and kanaka, in which the whalemen’s influence has been carried far.

*Frederici, however, takes another view, but he advances no argument in support of his statement (page 93).

Von Neu-Seeland im Siidwesten und Hawaii im Nordosten scheint tiberhaupt das Siidsee-Pidgin-Englisch seine Laufe tiber die Inseln begonnen zu haben. * * In der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts scheint eine Art Pidgin-Englisch die Verkehrssprache zwischen Weissen und Eingebornen auf allen damals besuchten Inseln der Stidhalfte des Grossen Ozeans gewesen zu sein. Wahrend dann aber dieser Jargon in Ostpolynesien durch Franzoésisch, auf den Cook-Inseln und Neu-Seeland durch ein leidlich reines Englisch und im tibrigen allgemein durch die von den Weissen erlernten Eingebornen- Dialekte der polynesischen Inseln zuriickgedrangt wurde, gewann in ganz Melanesien, mit ausnahme von West-Neuguinea, das Pidgin-Englisch durch den Arbeiterhandel ganz gewaltig an Ausdehnung und Intensitat.

PARENTAGE OF THE JARGON. 7

Luck, as in all hunting, entered into whaling. If a ship were too long empty her skipper would seek to pick up a dollar as honestly as seemed convenient. Forsaking the whale for the season it had seemed to forsake him, the whaler would hunt a lading of sandalwood, for which he could obtain a fabulous profit in Canton. In the China ports he might even load for home with a cargo that promised a good return on the voyage. In time sandalwood attracted many adven- turous seamen as a trade to prosecute, an industry offering the richest rewards. The tree was found growing in untouched forests on many islands, and none was too remote to escape the trader. This led to a shore sojourn, a closer association with aboriginal races; it was in this new condition that the jargon was found to be a necessity of communication. The sandalwood is now extinct, not a sapling escaped this ransacking, not a tree was held sacred for the per- petuation of its kind. But the speech which grew out of its exploita- tion endures and has been found adaptable to the needs of newer commerce.

After the sandalwood trade came the béche-de-mer fishery. This involved much closer association with the islanders. The master of a vessel engaging upon that trade landed, here and there where the reefs were promising, one or more of his men to conduct the fishery and to smoke the animals so that they might be marketable. Whether one man was landed or a companion shared his loneliness, these adventurers had to establish communication with the savage folk among whom long months were to be passed before the ship would return for their takings.

With these outposts of civilization shedding a murky ray upon the simple night of savagery and drawing dark stains upon it should be associated the beachcomber. .

Whatever his lapses from rigidity of morals, whatever his slips in deportment, the béche-de-mer fisher, when the reefs remained produc- tive, the copra trader which he has become under modern conditions (for conditions do change even in the South Sea), these solitaries at least professed industry even though it were harshly vicarious. They had work to do; there was at least the semblance of the expec- tation that they might earn their return to better conditions. The beachcomber was in far other case. He was runagate, deserter; a score of such dingy men have told me ‘‘the ship lay off this shore and I just jumped her.”’

How can we, churched and policed, how can we comprehend the impulses? Here the ship, the weariness of coarse foods, the hard task, the constraint of duty, the first mate; over the rail a cable’s length or two or three of soft shimmer of water, warm and buoyant; beyond the slope ever green; at the shore the soft susurrus of the fronds of the swaying palms, the distant forest canopies laced with

8 BEACH-LA-MAR.

white ribbons of cascades that look forever cool and reposeful. In the slow, scented drift of the night air comes the mingled perfume of heavy odors, the rhythmic clapping of hands as the sensuous charm of the dance intermixes in posturings and swayings, the cheer of happy laughter, the swell of the music of song. Small wonder that tide and beach attract; another sailor has “‘just jumped his ship’; one more beachcomber settles down to the comfort of savage life where duty is a thing unkown.

Such and of such sort have been the men who were the active agency in creating the Beach-la-mar. Being men they must talk, even among alien folk. It is not that they had anything much worth the saying; of men much better placed that may not always be postulated. This record of the language which they have created will show the paucity of their essential ideas and their scanty import- ance. If we are to seek to comprehend the jargon the time will not have been wasted in the presentation of these brief sketches of the manner of men out of whose needs its creation arose and the condi- tions under which that need became manifest.

It will be apparent that so far we have accounted for no more than sporadic foci of evolution of some mongrel dialects, each narrowly restricted in essential conditions to one or at most to two white men, and the few communities of islanders with which they were in inti- mate contact. Being sedentary in their employment, the white men, as the principal actuating cause, were not in a position to become agents in disseminating their particular mongrel speech beyond the narrow limits of their influence, and, in the habitual hostility of the savage communities, this influence could never extend beyond the island upon which they were domiciled and seldom (save only in the case of the very smallest) attained to the whole of that island.

But the island world of the Pacific was yet anew to be exploited. The sandalwood had become extinct, the béche-de-mer had been fished out. There remained a third natural product which had value in lands beyond, the manhood of the islands. The labor trade arose, slave hunting perfumed by euphemisms. Blackbirding was the term cynically affected by its practitioners; at the behest of its benefi- ciaries, recruiting of Polynesian labor was the designation in acts of Colonial parliaments and Queen’s orders in council which named an infamy into respectability on paper and ordered its methods. It was the blackbirding which assumed the mongrel tongues wherever found, bore them to the remotest parts of the Pacific, established them in the Queensland plantations on the Australian coast, and fused them all into a common speech and thereby created the Beach-la-mar.

Melanesia is a tangle of severally incomprehensible languages. In my studies of the philology of that major division of the Pacific I have made use of more than a hundred distinct tongues, yet there are

PARENTAGE OF THE JARGON. 9

large areas for which no data are as yet accessible. I should not be surprised if future research should disclose 250 languages in that island area. Day may utter speech unto day, but not island to island in Melanesia. Even so tiny an islet as Three Hills—it is but six miles long—has two distinet and severally incomprehensible lan- guages; one finds its affiliations with the remote Polynesian family, the other avoids all coordination with any known speech. There was no common tongue for the islands which lie between New Caledonia and New Guinea, interpreters there were none. The Melanesian Mission has been forced to set aside the language of Mota in the New Hebrides, to train its indigenous deacons and priests in that language in order that when well instructed in the faith and theology they may serve as messengers in their home villages. Yet the law, the weapon forged by those sage parliaments and orders in council for the pur- pose of varnishing the semblance of humanity upon slave hunting, prescribed that the slaver must explain to the intended slave the full meaning of his engagement and that the slave’s answers must satisfy the Government labor agent that he comprehended what he was about to do when he gave up his home and idleness to go to an unknown country to toil in the canebrakes. The consideration for thus going into exile was some ridiculously disproportionate matter of trumpery—a hatchet of soft iron, a handful of beads—and it was colorably into hand paid, but as a matter of custom it always went into the wrong hands, it was given to those who remained ashore. No act of any parliament, no regulation emanating from the High Commissioner of the Western Pacific could avail to gloss over such transactions to the savage; he is far too elemental to consider fact less fact when treacledin words. A theoretical captain of a registered recruiting vessel, and there was never such an one in the labor trade, may have been courteous enough and sufficiently law-regardful to inquire of the expected slave if it were his pleasure to enter into an engagement to till the cane in a far land. The slave’s chief who wished to sell him asked bluntly “You wantum buy boy?”

It was the labor trade which made Beach-la-mar a jargon and extended its currency. It gathered material from every source, it fused them all and created a language which yet remains the only means of intercommunication in the Western Pacific.

In this summary of the causes of the Beach-la-mar I have hitherto omitted dates, and that of design. While events in divers parts of the Pacific were moving along these lines the motion was not synchronous in all parts alike. Some of the islanders had a worse reputation for inhospitality manifested in general devilishness than others, just as soot may be smudged on charcoal. Adventurous as the first voyagers in Melanesia were, there was instinct within

10 BEACH-LA-MAR.

them a certain regard for the integrity of their skins, and their characteristics of orthodoxy led them to look with equal disfavor upon the oven for their mortal parts and flames for whatever residue they considered themselves to possess. Thus it came about that their activities were unequally advanced. In general we may assign the sandalwood trade to the thirties of the last century, the trepang fishing to the forties and fifties, the labor trade to the middle sixties and thence onward in ever increasing vigor for about a score of years.

CHAPTER II. THE ART OF BREAKING ENGLISH.

Having shown the means by which the Beach-la-mar came into being and was established over a wide extent, we have next to con- sider the manner in which the two parties to the transaction arrived at an agreement in making the changes, each in his own speech and each in the speech of the other, whereby the resultant mongrel of language might respond to the calls of the need of each owner.

Here we are to find two personal equations. We shall have to bear in mind that each party to the jargon must of necessity make sacri- fices of his own speech down to what he may consider the irreducible and ultimate. We shall equally have to bear in mind that there is a great difference in the attitude of the civilized man and that of the savage, and that, with his assumption of the right to rule the bar- barian through white franchise and with his advantage in the pos- session of the tawdry wares which to the islander seemsuch treasures, the white man must be the directive force in this creation of a speech which shall become common.

Of peculiar incidence upon the speaker of English, we must not neglect to recognize one supreme axiom of international philology: the proper way to make a foreigner understand what you would say is to use broken English. He speaks it himself, therefore give him what he uses.

“Then we give them the shoot gun,’ says Xury, laughing, ‘make them run wey’; such English he spoke by conversing among us slaves.’’ This we owe to Robinson Crusoe.

In Bleeding Heart Yard we shall find the principle developed in richer detail; and the extracts, while long, will prove valuable. Each in his own way, Dickens and Defoe were observers particularly alert in the walk of the common life.

It was up-hill work for a foreigner, lame or sound, to make his way with the Bleeding Hearts. In the first place, they were vaguely persuaded that every foreigner had a knife about him; in the second, they held it to be a sound constitutional national axiom that he ought to go home to his own country. They never thought of inquiring how many of their own country- men would be returned upon their hands from divers parts of the world if the principle were generally recognized; they considered it practically and peculiarly British. In the third place, they had a notion that it was a sort of divine visitation upon a foreigner that he was not an Englishman, and that all kinds of calamities happened te his country because it did things that England did not, and did not do things that England did. * *

1]

12 BEACH-LA-MAR.

Against these obstacles the lame foreigner with the stick had to make head as well as he could. * * * However, the Bleeding Hearts were kind hearts; and when they saw the little fellow cheerily limping about with a good-humored face, doing no harm, drawing no knives, committing no outrageous immoralities, living chiefly on farinaceous and milk diet, and playing with Mrs. Plornish’s children of an evening, they began to think that although he could never hope to be an Englishman, still it would be hard to visit that affliction on his head. They began to accommodate themselves to his level, calling him Mr. Baptist but treating him like a baby, and laughing immoderately at his lively gestures and his childish English—more because he didn’t mind it, and laughed too. They spoke to him in very loud voices as if he were stone deaf. They constructed sentences, by way of teaching him the language in its purity, such as were addressed by the savages to Captain Cook, or by Friday to Robinson Crusoe. Mrs. Plornish was particularly ingenious in this art; and attained so much celebrity for saying “‘Me ope you leg well soon,”’ that it was con- sidered in the yard but a very short remove indeed from speaking Italian. Even Mrs. Plornish herself began to think that she had a natural call toward that language. As he became more popular household objects were brought into requisition for his instruction in a copious vocabulary; and whenever he appeared in the yard ladies would fly out at their doors crying “Mr. Baptist—tea-pot!’’, Mr. Baptist—dust-pan!’’, ““Mr. Baptist—flour- dredger!’’, ““Mr. Baptist—coffee-biggin!’”’ At the same time exhibiting those articles, and penetrating him with a sense of the appalling difficulties of the Anglo-Saxon tongue. * * *

“So that some of us thinks he’s peeping out toward where his own country is, and some of us thinks he’s looking for somebody he don’t want to see, and some of us don’t know what to think.”

Mr. Baptist seemed to have a general understanding of what she said: or perhaps his quickness caught and applied her slight action of peeping. In any case, he closed his eyes and tossed his head with the air of a man who had his sufficient reasons for what he did, and said in his own tongue it didn’t matter. Altro!

“What's altro?” said Pancks.

“Hem! It’s a sort of general kind of expression, sir,’’ said Mrs. Plornish.

“Ts it?” said Pancks. ‘‘Why then altro to you, old chap. Good after- noon. Altro!’’

Mr. Baptist in his vivacious way repeating the word several times, Mr. Pancks in his duller way gave it him back once. From that time it became a frequent custom with Pancks the gypsy, as he went home jaded at night, to pass round by Bleeding Heart Yard, go quietly up the stairs, look in at Mr. Baptist’s door, and, finding him in his room, to say ‘‘Halloo, old chap! Altro!’’ To which Mr. Baptist would reply with innumerable bright nods and smiles, ‘‘ Altro, signor, altro, altro, altro!’’ After this highly con- densed conversation Mr. Pancks would go his way with an appearance of being lightened and refreshed.

Here we have the fractured English, the comminution so benefi- cial to foreigners. There can be no doubt about the value; we induct our infants into their heritage in the classic dignity of the speech of Shakespeare and Milton by drooling predigested fragments into their dawning intelligences; and then, with jewelish consistency, in after life we demand of them that they parse

THE ART OF BREAKING ENGLISH. 13

Here we find, too, the satisfied, the condescending adoption of the alien vocable. We feel the generous glow of reflecting that, after all, it does us no lasting harm and makes the foreigner feel good, poor devil. See how we enjoy his efforts to acquire the only real speech, our own; he’s only a poor barbarian, but so droll.

Katharine. Je me’n fais la répétition de tous les mots que vous m’avez appris dés a présent.

Alice. Il est trop difficile, madame, comme je pense.

K. Excusez moy, Alice; escoutez: de hand, de fingres, de nails, de arma, de bilbow.

A. De elbow, madame.

K. OSeigneur Dieu! je m’en oublie; de elbow. Comment appelez vous le col? De nick, madame. De nick. Et le menton? De chin. De sin. Le col, de nick; le menton, de sin. Ouy. Sauf vostre honneur, en vérité vous prononcez les mots aussi droict que mis natifs d’Angleterre.

Sy

And Shakespeare’s audience rocked with glee.

Far from the wild life of the Pacific as these illustrations are, they yet exhibit two very active principles in the formation of the Beach- la-mar; we shall find them running all through the vocabulary of the jargon.

I have already commented upon the fact that the white man, who is without particular intention or principle of philology dominating the production of the mongrel speech for hisown greater convenience, is a man of little or no education. The categories of grammar are far above his experience; the few rules and the many exceptions which form the science of our speech have never been feruled into his intelligence—perhaps it was in avoidance of them that he ran away off to sea and became a part of a life of dingy adventure. Nothing could shock him in the using of a noun for a verb, or of a pronoun for an adverb, or of a stout expletive for the better establishing of the force of his remarks. With his own kind he does that sort of thing at all times; he could have no greater consideration for the savage, who by no chance could detect asolecism. If he betrays no respect for the parts of his speech, still less could he be expected to maintain the integrity of the forms of inflection and conjugation.

In this latter item it were grossly unfair to stamp the ignorant sailor as in a class apart, a depth of ignorance found only in blue water and not known on soundings. It so happens that I am ina position where my assistance is sought by many who have doubts on grammatical questions which they would like to have resolved. I shudder at the intimate knowledge which unconsciously is revealed to me of the number of persons who believe ‘‘between you and I”

14 BEACH-LA-MAR.

to be what they are more than likely to denominate good grammar. Only lately my good offices were sought by a correspondent who asked a favorable decision on the phrase ‘‘ whom he may be’”’ as but- tressed by this parsing: “‘he is the subject of the sentence, may be the predicate, and whom is the object of the verb be.’’ This from a person of education, at least she had studied stenography and typewriting and held a job.

I am not charging up these grammatical sins to the sailors by reason of their briny yet fresh air profession; I merely note for the purposes of this treatise that they are sinners in a fashion which has left its mark on the jargon. From the marks thus made we may find an interesting note of the variation which our language may undergo and remain a means of communication; we find the irreducible mini- mum which is felt to underlie all the refinements of vocabulary and syntax. The English element of the jargon is vulgar English because it is contributed through a vulgar channel; it is the English of the ignorant, who have neither knowledge of canons which we regard as essential to comprehensibility nor scruple about violating them. We shall find ourselves far from English undefiled.

We are safe in crediting the beginning of Beach-la-mar to the fore- castle. In its further development under the stimulus of the labor trade we are to recognize the introduction of a new element. The sailors who made up the crews of these legalized slavers were recruited from the slums of the seaports of Australia, particularly the havens of Queensland from Moreton Bay to Cooktown. It would be wide of this inquiry to speculate into causes; the system (long in force) of penal transportation comes into mind at once as a possible explana- tion, but the fact remains that the common speech of the Common- wealth of Australia represents the most brutal maltreatment which has ever been inflicted upon the language that is the mother tongue of the great English nations. Under such influence the poor kanaka remained for his term of labor, a man to whom toil was absolutely unknown; and this term was never less than three years, and so much longer as he might pass unheard of the authorities who were supposed to see that he was promptly returned to his own island. In this labor their overseers communicated with the islanders through the jargon. Among themselves, in the multitude of languages which the chance of capture and of sale might fling together upon any one plantation, the jargon became the only means of intercommunication. It is not a difficult tongue to acquire, three years in the barracks of a plantation were the equivalent of a university course.*

*Denn jeder Mensch im Schutzgebiet weiss, dass der Melanesier sich nach 4- bis 8- wochentlicher Dienstzeit leidlich im Pidgin-Englisch verstandigen kann. Jeder Polizei- Junge und jeder Arbeiter kann am Ende seiner Dienstzeit Pidgin-English sprechen und kann Reis kochen. Da er immer wieder Gelegenheit findet, diese seine Kenntnisse auf- zufrischen, so bewahrt er sie zumeist bis zum Ende seiner Tage. Diese beiden Punkte sind charakteristisch fiir den ausgedienten Melanesier.—Friederici, 99.

THE ART OF BREAKING ENGLISH. 15

Note has been made of the fact that the superior partner, in making his contribution to the capital stock of the jargon, has mani- fested the utmost readiness to degrade and to debase the currency of his English speech. We are to observe this in far greater detail in the subjoined vocabulary and in the consideration of the syntax of Beach-la-mar. Similarly we shall find it of interest to observe what is the attitude of the junior, and ostensibly inferior, partner toward the material which is communicated to him, and more particularly toward that which he contributes from his own store.

I do not know a single language of the Pacific in which it is possible to be ungrammatical; there is certainly not one in which certain persons are understood to speak with due regard for syntax and certain others betray their lack of education by speaking incorrectly. That is a distinction that marks only the races of higher culture; the lower race is of even and complete education.

This comment has reference properly only to matters of grammar. In purity and beauty of diction there may exist marked distinctions. I have listened with rich delight to the classic Samoan which Malietoa Laupepa, the last king of that realm, could employ with singular grace when sure of the comprehension of his auditors; yet to many Samoans his words would prove incomprehensible. Percy Smith, the president of the Polynesian Society, has collected the words of many of the karakia or mystic formulas of Maori might which can never now be more than words, for no man alive can communicate their inner sense. In my own collection of Samoan legend and poetry are many passages for which no explanation can be given; the ancient sages have taken the knowledge with them along the road of the soul to Pulotu whence is no return.