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Spoon Detail
Spoon Detail SHSND# 11444

On examining the reprint of the original Lewis and Clark journals we find that Lewis makes four different attempts to spell this name, and Clark tried to do the same also four different ways. They were evidently aiming at the name we give, and now have in common use among our Grosventre people. But they were not linguists and not accurate students of the language, and had no alphabet suited to the language, but tried to represent the sounds by the use of the English alphabet. Consequently they used c for the k sound, and the hard g also for k, and added h and r without stint to help out. We append herewith these spellings from the journals, and also the spellings of the name of the interpreter Charbonneau, the husband of the Bird Woman. In is an interesting study in orthography, or rather heterography. It must be said for them, however, that the English alphabet is a poor gun to hit an exact representation of sound.

The j sound is not in the Grosventre language. The hard g is nearly the same as k to some ears, but is not the correct pronunciation of the Grosventre.

Elliot Cou, the ornithologist and historian, in his edition of Larpenteur’s Journal, entitled “Forty Years a Fur Trader on the Missouiri,” p. 141, note, gives the spelling of the name Bird Woman as I have given it, and there also we find that in 1898 the first suggestion is made that the heroine be honored with a statue.