Take Our Word For It NOE. No. 9
Jul 22, 2003 21:53 PDT
Take Our Word For It NOE No. 9
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We're here! Remember, we won't be here next week but will bring you a
new issue of TOWFI and a NOE the following week (the first full week of
**This Week's NOE**
Reminder: we are now publishing TOWFI bi-weekly, so every other week we
will send you a NOE to tide you over to the next issue of TOWFI. This
is a NOE week. [OK, we think we've reminded you enough about that, so
next time this reminder will be gone.]
We are heading up to Portland, Oregon, for a very brief visit. Mike
will be lecturing there this weekend (though not on English etymology;
however, there will be a bit of Sanskrit etymology involved!). This got
us thinking about the derivation of the name Oregon. The one discussion
that we have seen repeated over and over again goes like this:
There once lived a French mapmaker who prepared a map of the New World
and labeled it in, what else, French. The name Winsconsin was usually
rendered in the French of the time as Ouisconsink, but on this
particular map, the Wisconsin River was labeled with a variant form,
Ouariconsint, and, to make matters worse, it was split into two lines
(due to space constraints) so that it looked like Ouaricon and sint. In
later documents the name Ouaricon is apparently associated with a great
river that was claimed to flow west into the Pacific, and it was
variously spelled Ouiragon, Ourgan, and Ourigon. Jonathan Carver was
the first to spell it Oregon in 1778. When the Columbia River was
discovered, it was thought to be the mythical Oregon river, and so the
name was applied to the land around the river, and later to the state.
Or so most of these stories go. There is even a reference to the
"Ornament" issue of Baron Lahontan's "Nouveaux Voyages" as perhaps being
the source of Ouraicon.
We did find the Wisconsin River referred to as the Ouisconsink in one of
Lahontan's maps, but there was no sign of the misspelled,
two-lined version of the name. However, we did find Carver's use of the
present-day form of the name:
"The four most capital rivers on the Continent of North America, viz.
the St. Lawrence, the Mississippi, the River Bourbon [today, the Nelson
River], and the Oregon or the River of the West, . . . have their
sources in the same neighborhood. The waters of the three former are
within thirty miles of each other; the latter, however is rather further
This was published in an account of his travels in 1778. Some sources
claim that he got the word from another explorer, Robert Rogers, with
whom he collaborated.
The mystery of Oregon's origin is by no means definitively solved, but
we do have a pretty good story, nonetheless! If we ever find that map
with the variant spelling "Ouraicon" and "sint", we'll let you know. By
the way, none of the few other stories we encountered regarding
Oregon's derivation was convincing.
Send us your funny stuff. If your entry is used in TOWFI, you'll get a
$10 gift certificate to Amazon.com. Eventually (we're just behind in
sending them). Thanks to those readers who have donated their $10 gift
certificates back to TOWFI. We will add you all to the donors list
We now have 3 copies of "Derivation" left! Three kind readers have
donated $75 or more to get a copy of the game and help TOWFI at the same
time. If you'd like a copy of the game, let us know by donating through
PayPal or by sending your donation to us at TOWFI, 2530 Berryessa Rd.,
PMB 609, San Jose, CA 95132. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE DONATED! Your
donations plus Mike's new job will help us continue to publish TOWFI.
Winners, please note, due to unforeseen problems, your games have not
been sent yet. We will send them all next week. We apologize for the
delay and thank you for your patience.
We'll be back in two weeks with a new issue of TOWFI and a NOE.
Until next time,
Take Our Word For It!
Melanie and Mike