What Did We Call This Place When?
April 3, 2008 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Native Names Projects by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe GIS Program and the Hawaii Board on Geographic Names are adding audio pronunciation guides to geospatial place-name datasets in several on-line mapping formats.

Both groups have small grants from the Federal Geographic Data Committee. The Hawaii folks have already been adding diacritical marks to USGS maps to guide pronunciation. The Coeur d'Alene staff have posted traditional names and links to audio files on a flash-based map site, the National Map site and (most usefully, I think) via Google Earth (KMZ).
posted by mmahaffie (5 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Coeur d"Alene project is open to input on names outside of traditional Couer d'Alene areas. Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, for example, is at the same spot as what was once known as Tsi wahswèn:to (MP3) which translates as "at the coal forked mouth."
posted by mmahaffie at 6:25 PM on April 3, 2008

Great project and post—many thanks!
posted by languagehat at 6:33 PM on April 3, 2008

Great post! There is also the Coeur d'Alene language Project with many MP3 files. Learn the Coeur d'Alene Word of Week.

Last month I had the opportunity to attend a showing of the film "Why Save a Language?" atht eMuseum of American Cultures in Spokane. The film was followed by a panel discussion with native elders and others speaking about their attempts to preserve and revive fading languages. I was impressed at how much is being done in the area with elders teaching language to native kids 2-3 generations younger. Yet it is very late in the day for some languages. Coeur d'Alene elder Felix Aripa told us that were exactly two fluent Coeur d'Alene speakers, both elderly.

Here is another article on the names project.
posted by LarryC at 7:11 PM on April 3, 2008

Thanks for the added links, LarryC!
posted by mmahaffie at 7:30 PM on April 3, 2008

Here is Aripa in a video explaining how his people called the area around Sprague Lake "Smell smell."

(I am going to be up with this site all night.)
posted by LarryC at 7:52 PM on April 3, 2008

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