Fire and Hemlock revisited

Nat Case ncase at
Thu Jan 25 12:48:12 EST 2001

>>  year
>>>about the Sioux Indians, pronounced Sigh-yucks.
>>Soo!  However, I used to think Sioux (Soox) and Soo were two different

They can be. I don't know for sure what the Soo Line (a major rail 
line until pretty recently in the north-central part of the US) was 
named after, but it may be after Sault Sainte Marie, the name of both 
the straits between Lakes Superior and Huron, and the cities that lie 
on either side of the straits. The Soo Locks there are part of the 
dam/canal system allowing large ships to travel from Duluth to 
Montreal (and allowing zebra mussels to make the return trip)...

>And why is Houston pronounced Ewe-ston when it's a city in Texas, 
>but House-ton when it's a street in New York?

"Hughes-ton" Texas is named for Sam Houston, who was born near 
Lexington, Virginia (out at the southern end of the Shenandoah 
valley) and raised in eastern Tennessee near Knoxville. Out in the 
woods there, who knows what kind of pronunciation shifts could have 
happened? Sounds like a English or maybe Welsh name.

And why and how did Ralph go from "Rafe" to "Ralf" (or did it perhaps 
go the other way in England after "Ralf" moved to America)? With the 
New York short "a", Rafe is so much more attractive a spelling... 
Ralph had become a sort of "joke name," at least in my childhood 
circles. Not least because it's used as a word for vomiting. I can't 
hear "Georgie just Rafed his lunch..."


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