Monday, March 27, 2006

The birth of a pet peeve

I just finished watching the Sopranos with the lovely Mrs. Jib, and I witnessed something that I know is going to be a pet peeve for me for a long time to come. Towards the end of the show, there was a saying posted in Tony's room. I barely heard the saying, but my wife pointed out to me that the note said that it was an Ojibwe saying. The characters on the show pronounced it O-jib-wee. Ojibwe is a word that most Americans have zero familiarity with, as the more common American term is Chippewa. So for most of the country, they will now be known as the O-jib-wee thanks to this episode of the Sopranos.

For the record, if you find yourself in Northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, or Canada and you ever have to grapple with the pronunciation of Ojibwe, Ojibwa, or Ojibway, remember one thing. The smartest thing you can do with unfamiliar Native American names and words is to make them as phoenetic as you can. The fact is, Chippewa, Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Ojibway (and various other spellings) are all the same word, just written down by people of different languages. The Ojibwe variation was used by French fur traders and missionaries, whereas Chippewa was how the English and American ear heard the same word. Ojibwe is actually pronounced O-jib-weh or O-jib-way, but if you soften the 'o' and the 'j' while clipping the 'way', it starts to sound an awful lot like Chippewa.

Phoenetic side note: There is nothing tricky about the name of this blog. It is how it looks: Jiblog. Take my nickname, Jib, make it a compound word by adding blog, and drop a 'b' so it flows off the tounge nicely. And Jib is not pronounced Jeeb. I take no offense to any confusion and/or mispronunciations. Mispronunciations are a way of life for me. I just think that now is as good a time as any to put that fact on the record.

If you are interested, the Ojibwe saying was, "Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while a great wind carries me across the sky." Thanks to KateSpot for copying that down.

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