Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 23:53:14 -0600


Subject: Re: Ozark Folk, the Clean Air Act, and Pollution Credits

Taking the question back a step, do we know where the word 'Ozark' itself

originated? It sounds Native American, but that's just a knee jerk guess.

(Apologies if this has already been discussed.)

Native Americans didn't write, of course, so the forms of American names

were "set" by speakers of French, Spanish, English, Russian.

French cartographers used certain abbreviations on maps and various

conventions. There were some early maps with "aux arcs" (= [land] of the

arcansa Indians) written in the general area west of the Mississippi River

where the Akansea (Marquette's spelling) lived / hunted. The French added

-s when designating "the area of X," as in "aux Os" referring to the area

claimed by the Osage. What seems to have happened is that when asked

about the area north and west of the mouth of the Arkansas River (where it

flows into the Mississippi) French explorers would say "aux arcs," which to

English-speakers sounded like what we would spell as Ozark. Early

documents show that Americans referred to the area around the mouth of the

Arkansas as "The Ozark." The French wouldn't have said the -s, and the -r-

gets tangled up in questions of cross-language equivalents (across at least

three languages), so this is a rather complex matter. Eventually, the -s

in the written form led to a (re-)morphologizing process that has given us

"The Ozarks." Clear as mud, Dan Marcus (and others)?