Sakakawea - Charbonneau

Koontz John E John.Koontz at
Tue Nov 9 17:17:11 UTC 2004

On Mon, 8 Nov 2004, Alan H. Hartley wrote:
> Pomp Clarks nickname for Jean Baptiste, the son of Toussaint
> Charbonneau and Sacagawea, born February 11, 1805, at Fort Mandan.
> It has been suggested that the name reflects the Shoshone word bambi
> (sometimes written pampi) head. This hypothesis is weakened, however,
> by the fact that though modern Shoshone has -mb- in bambi, the dialect
> encountered by Lewis and Clark had only -b- (written -p-): Clarks
> record of the Shoshone name for Beaverhead Rock, for instance, has pap,
> not pamp, and he writes Year-pah for yampa. (Given that he writes pap
> for the head of a beaver, it seems unlikely that Clark would in another
> situation write Pomp for head as a personal name.)

This seems reasonable.  I'll see if I can refer this to a specialist.

> It seems more likely that Clarks paternal feelings for Jean Baptiste
> found expression in a paternalistic naming tradition of the Eastern
> elite. Pompey, the name of a famous Roman general, was used as a pet
> name in the Virginian English of the period: George Washington refers in
> his diary to the little Spaniel dog Pompey (1768) and to a dark bay
> horse with the same name (1787). Pompey, Pompy and Pomp were common
> names for slaves and ex-slaves (usually blacks, but in one case at
> least, an Indian) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, from
> Georgia to New Hampshire.

Thanks, I've also wondered about this pattern as a source, but couldn't
document it well enough to venture it!

> Clark writes in a letter to Charbonneau, in which he also refers to Jean
> Baptiste as 
my boy Pomp
my little danceing boy Baptiest

Referring ahead to Tony's comment, I wonder if pamp(i) might not be
possible variation of Bap(tiste), at least for an English speaker,
assuming that the nasality was more or less optional.  I don't believe
nasal vowels are phonemic in Shoshone et al. but of course the logic of
the system and its implementation are two different things.

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