Sakakawea - Charbonneau

Koontz John E John.Koontz at
Mon Nov 8 21:44:02 UTC 2004

On Mon, 8 Nov 2004, "Alfred W. Tüting" wrote:
> But would you judge from this that this site's statement on the "chain
> of translation" is erroneous as well? ("It worked something like this: A
> native speaker would ask Sakakawea a question in Hidatsa, she in turn
> would then REPEAT (!) the question to her husband Troussant Charbonneau.
> Charbonneau, in turn, would ask a French speaker (perhaps fur trader
> Rene Jessaume) the same question in French, who would then translate it
> to English for Lewis and Clark.") To me, this repetition doesn't make
> much sense (except for the fact that Ch.'s knowledge of the Hidatsa
> language was not good enough to wholly understand other speakers than
> his wife - who might have rephrased the sentences for him).

I think the mistake in the web page's presentation of the chain is that
Sacagawea is represented as translating from Hidatsa to Hidatsa, whereas
it should be from Shoshone to Hidatsa.  We don't really have any basis for
speculating which of Sacagawea or Charbonneau could speak better Hidatsa.
Actually, I'd be willing to suppose that Sacagawea could speak at least
some French.

> P.S. Will anybody explain the meaning of the Native word pomp??

Lewis & Clark depict it as short for Pompey, I think, i.e., the English
version of Latin Pompeius.  I don't know the details, but I think the
Journals indicate that the name was supplied by one of the two captains.
On the other hand, Jean Charney told me it resembles Comanche pampi
'head'.  The Shoshone would be about the same.  I think that's would be a
voiceless i in final position.  She wondered if it might possibly be a
Shoshone name, or part of it.  This would be entirely hypothetical, of
course, and she didn't have a great deal of confidence in the hypothesis.

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