Chicago/Mythical River (long)

carljweber carljweber at MSN.COM
Sun Mar 3 02:01:30 UTC 2002

Re: Chicago/Mythical River

Hi David,

Cybalist <cybalist at>  is the home of the linguists of PIE and
IE, including Sanskrit. Hunt around for help with pronunciation. (See end

I post my etymology on "Chicago," etc., to the American Dialect Society
list. I currently am arguing my ideas against my staunchest critic,
McCafferty, who defends the standard etymologies of Vogel and Swenson. The
etymology that I told you last month when I said, "I've got it," had its
merits, but, and better yet, it's lead to an idea that is fantastic. My most
far out shot is that when LaSalle, with a dozen maps of the century spread
out before him or his mind's eye, and he was deciding on what to call the
route from the lake to the Illinois River  -- he named it by cartographic
naming convention -- and certainly would think about the big word he was
going to put on the map. He knew in the back of his mind the word would be a
memorial that would over future centuries show continuity with past

"Checagou" here was a highly strategic geographical nexus in his plan to
connect Canada, which has frozen winter ports, to the year around deep-water
ports of the Gulf of Mexico - the name was not going to be a word as
pusillanimous as Vogel/Swenson/McCafferty's "skunk/onoin."
McCafferty has to twist and squirm twice to make "Checagou" an Indian word
to his (and Swenson's) liking. I say Chicago's not an onion - LaSalle's word
was only a homonym for "onion." McCafferty thinks that an inscription (near
the Chicago region on Franquelin's 1684 La Louisiane map) relates to a
meaning "Chicago Peninsula." There is no peninsula to be found around here,
except Navy Pier and the peninsular landform out to the Shed Aquarium. Last
year McCafferty told me that the meaning of "Chicago" had some geographical
significance, but he couldn't reveal what it was because - it was secret. If
he told me it would  "steal the thunder" from his official announcement of
the "real" meaning he would be making in a book. Now, I find out, the
"thunder" was "Chicago Peninsula." You know the little linguist's gibberish
formulas they write out? This one I would REALLY like to see.

By the way David, I found another map (1730s) of the "Chicagoua" River
emptying into the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile Bay. I think I'm the only one who
can offer something of an explanation for this nomenclature. I'm going to
bring it up again with somebody in Alabama - this time the De Soto
Commission,  that I just heard about. Their historical societies have not
heard about this "Chicagoua" into Mobile Bay. They told me their earliest
record was the Alibamous River in the 1730s.

McCafferty (Swenson/Vogel) says it's not permissible to talk about this. He'
s told me both (1) such rivers do not exist, and if they do, (2) it's
another word of no relevance to the conversation. One of his methods is
stating, "discussion closed." I think he's overstepping his shoes when he
determines what is and is not the provenance of a particular word history.

Get this, a major find --  a word in the regional Indian language,
"Ch8ca8a," that the Indians, I claim, borrowed from the French. I found it
myself in "cape8a irach8ca8a and "piman ch8ca8a" in the SAME dictionary
McCafferty and Swenson get their "skunk/onion" dictionary documentation
from. Vogel's unfamiliarity in 1958 with an important source document, and
then, and especially, how he tries to later (1963) squirm out of his
ignorance -- when he learns of the other source (i.e., Margry) - is,
unacceptable to serious scholarship. Both Swenson and McCafferty overlook
this serious foible of Vogel.

As I said, David, "Ch8ca8a" was, from 1680 onward, a French loanword into
Miami/Illinois, and it was given the significance, "il passe dans l'eau
marche" (French, 1720). When the French is translated to English, the
meaning has everything you want in a reasoned and reasonable etymology for
the fifty mile corridor. My "Ch8ca8a" has the fits-like-a-glove
significance: "water," "route," "traversing on foot" -- and even more
persuasive, the Indian "capa8a" suggests "disembarking" for the land carry.
I discovered it partly on my own, and then the "cape8a" was confirmed for me
by an eminent Algonquianist, David Pentland. At this point, Mr. Pentland,
and other authorities I communicated with, and library reference
authorities, are NOT at all convinced "Checagou" is, as McCafferty and
Swenson think, from the Miami/Illinois language. In this dictionary of which
I speak favored by the skunk/onion theory, and which I also use to find my
alternative word, the McCafferty/Swenson/Vogel word is written "chicac8o
(abusive)," for "skunk/onion." The skunk/onions theory says this is the word
that named the area. Perhaps if they had not settled on the "skunk/onions"
word so early, they would have identified the word that my long research
with a magnifying glass and happy determination discovered. Perhaps, David.

I pointed out that next to the Vogel/Swenson/McCafferty "onions" word in the
1720 dictionary, is written the word "abusive." I maintain it probably
should be taken as, today, in a dictionary, we might see next to a word,
"slang," or "vulgar," or "offensive." McCafferty says, as I can construct
what he is arguing, that the associations of disgust with the REPULSIVE
smell of the skunk (ProtoAlgonquian: "urine" + "small animal" + etc) is only
considered to be repulsive to those who are Eurocentric. He gave me an
example from his friend Costa, of some Indians calling themselves something
like "shit faced," as I recall, but don't quote me, and the adjectival sense
is more literal then as in "shitface drunk." What McCafferty and Costa seem
to be saying is that some things we consider repulsive and disgusting in an
undeconstructed universe are not "really" so -- such as (1) the  "pop" in
"pop goes the weasel, and (2) feces, especially human feces, and more
especially, other people's human feces spread on their faces. These
"conditioned disgusts" are Eurocentricisms. Plea!!

One place, as I've said, David, he says "Chicago" meant just the few miles
of the Chicago River. This is what he must have always believed until my
work came along. He now says, of the onions, that their habitat, although
confined to a relatively small area of the fifty-mile corridor, nonetheless
named the whole corridor. He explains it as an instance of regional Indian
naming practices. He provided some examples of these naming practices - the
whole being named for the part. I checked them out with zero results. Until
I can see some Yahoo zoom-in shots of what McCafferty is talking about, or
some other documentation - I just can't take on McCafferty's word that this
parts-for- whole convention could be used whereby a few miles of onions
would name the fifty-mile corridor.

Reluctantly, and without acknowledgement, McCafferty seems to accept my
thesis that "LaSalle named Chicago and literally put it on the map." Pretty
bold is my thesis, David - it's never before been proposed; but my
documentation seems to have persuaded McCafferty, who comes right out and
says that LaSalle got it from the Indians. McCafferty is shortsighted,
though. LaSalle made it up and the Indians got it form HIM, I say -- as
"Ch8ca8a." David, don't think there is any great mystery about the letter
"-8-" -- it is this simple, it's the vowel sound of "shoe" or the "w" sound
of "Wabash," plus, very important, which McCafferty left out, the lips are
not round, as they are for those sounds as we make them in English. Because
LaSalle, as I say, conceived of "Checagou" as a European rooted word (not
Amerindian) he would NOT have used "-8-" in his spelling of the word,
because he would not have rounded his lips to say it. McCafferty says he DID
use "-8-". I'm waiting for his reply to my challenge to produce what would
be valuable information to the provenance of this study.

Back in 1680, "Che-," for the Chicago word, was the written standard.
Without acknowledgement, McCafferty accepts this finding of my research.
Thanks McCafferty.

McCafferty says LaSalle, and the people who started using the word through
his influence, were mistakenly writing "Che-" for an incorrectly heard
"Chi-." It was "Chi-," they should have written (i.e., they blundered for
decades in eurocentric error). The other half of the word McCafferty says is
supposed to be "-agoua" and through scribal error (i.e., eurocentric error),
it became "-agou." I think McCafferty has in the last year acknowledged my
work, concluding that for the first twenty years of use, save one exception,
the spelling was "Che-" not "Chi-." Thanks, McCafferty.

Now, instead of leaning heavily on his desk files that show random mistakes
of "-e-" written for "-I-," he must explain twenty years of my word, with
"Che-" as the standard, not the one he and  Swenson claim. He has to explain
how the original form "Checagou" got to "Chicagoua." Before my work, he
could finesse it with the invidious charge of euro incompetence. Now he has
to say for the first twenty years the nearly invariably found form was the
interloper. How would you explain that except, David, I hate to say, two
decades (1680 c.1700) of what must have been grand scale eurocentric
incompetence and error, at home and in the colonies of the New World,
hearing and spelling the word wrong, thinking it was the standard. It would
be nice, don't you think, to see some other evidence - a letter, report,
map, memoir - anything, to develop the charge?

My explanation that the Indian word was "Ch8ca8a," and that the Indians got
it from the French. It fits better in all ways.

1593 Cornelis de Jode.
Check this out, "Chiogigua," as the name of the mythical river that empties
into the North Sea (which was the Northwest Passage of also mythical
legend). It was a mighty Mississippi that flowed to the north. Notice the
also mythical great inland freshwater sea, seemingly navigable to the North
sea, and on the map also is the legendary Kingdom of Saguenay, named after
the river ( that I academically argue was named by the Portuguese, it was
not an Amerindian word recorded by the French). I don't venture to think the
Chicago word is cognate with (Iberian?) "Chiogigua," the mythical" river -
but it can't be ruled out. It's the name of the mythical river draining into
the North Sea. I'm challenging some of the established etymologies about the
St. Laurence. I'm convinced that "Saguenay" is not some Indian word picked
up by the French, but that it originated as Iberian, but I can't make
anything Portuguese or Spanish (Castilian) fit. It has the sense of flow and
drain and is found in a great many water related figures of speech.
Interestingly, to pursue a metaphor of flow and drain, it is found in
Mexican and some South American Spanish as a verb for "to urinate."

I'm trying to find out more about this, how the water morphemes are related.
You can wake up now.


----- Original Message -----
From: kalyan97
To: cybalist at
Sent: Friday, March 01, 2002 8:11 PM
Subject: [tied] bhaga, bon:ga

bhaga = "dispenser" , gracious lord , patron (applied to gods , esp.
to Savitr.) R.gveda; Skt. lexicon adds: Zd. {bagha} = Old Pers.
{baga} ; Gk.Slav. {bogu} [I know this from Serbian friend, "god" is "bog" --
CJW] , %{bogatu} ; Lith. {bagotas},{na-bagas}.]

There is a Santali (Munda) word: bon:ga which also refers to a
divinity,. e.g. sin: bon:ga = sun god.

Could these be cognates? If so, did Munda have borrowed the word from
PIE or IE or Indo-Iranian?


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