Folk Awareness of Dialect

Donald M. Lance LanceDM at MISSOURI.EDU
Tue Dec 5 05:38:55 UTC 2000

Mark Odegard wrote:

> I'm aware of Nevada, Mo. The word is not at all native to English. The
> thought it came back, round trip, from California is probably the only
> possible origin.

And in the Bootheel, there's Nyu MADrid, the Americanized pronunciation of the name the
Spanish gave to the location.

> I read somewhere once that Wyoming migrated to the state name from a valley
> in Pennsylvania. I also remember an elegantly bound book of poetry my
> grandparents had, which contained a long poem entitled _Gertrude of Wyoming_
> (the poet I don't completely remember; I think it was a certain Campbell: a
> FAST search says it's Thomas Campbell, apparently a Scot, which moves the
> toponym further east). No, I am not making this up. The title was
> deliciously funny, but the poem was a total bore, and I remember nothing
> whatsoever of it.

Right.  A valley in northeastern PA.  I heard a paper on this topic by Ron Grim of the
Library of Congress in 1998 at the annual conference of the Council of Geographic Names
Authorities in Cody.

Also, I included the name in a paper that I gave at the Canadian Society for the Study of
Names this past May.  Here is the portion of my handout on this name:
12. Early forms of 'Wyoming'
>From the Delaware M'cheuwómink 'upon the great plain', "variously corrupted to Chiwaumum,
Wiawamic, Wayomic, Waiomink, etc., finally reached the more euphonious form of Wyoming."
Referred to a picturesque valley near current Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. (27 variant
forms in Hodge)
1728 Meehayomy  <Pa Council, 1732
1732 Mechayomy  <ibid
1742 Wyomin < Col rec of Pa
1742 Mahanishy  <ibid
1743 Woyumoth  <ibid
1749 Wioming < map
1756 Wyoming < RI colonial records
1782 Wyaming < La Tour, [Carte de]  l'Amérique
1794 Wajomick  <Loskiel, History
My main source was
Frederick Webb Hodge, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. 2 vols. Smithsonian
Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 30, Parts 1 and 2. Washington DC:
Government Printing Office, 1907, 1910.

Ron Grim also presented the Senate debate on the name of the new state in 1875.  The name
Cheyenne (with two possible spellings and pronunciations) and the "Indian word" Wyoming
were proposed.  Though Cheyenne had some connection to the area, the Senate thought
Wyoming had a more pleasant sound and was easier to pronounce.

There is a Wyoming County (& stream & valley) in New York State and a town of Wyoming in
Rhode Island.  Grim said that the poem Mark mentioned was set in nePA and was very popular
at the time this "Indian name" was adopted in other areas of the young U.S.


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