Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 23:53:14 -0600
From: "Donald M. Lance" engdl[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU
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)?