Lesson #276 : Winnipeg and Minnesota

Autobiographical note: I intended to do some research into the origins of the Indo-European languages on account of my ongoing (informal) Turkish lessons, but wound up spending the better part of 12 hours in the emergency room with a friend, so today’s lesson will not be very long.

I randomly read today (from a not-so-reliable source) that both the words Winnipeg and Minnesota mean “murky water.” Winnipeg is Cree and Minnesota is Sioux. I decided to look this up somewhere around hour 7 of the wait, having finished the book I had with me.* I have to admit I got a little distracted while looking this up.

I have always known that the word Canada is from the Huron word kanata meaning “settlement” or “village.” I think we were taught that in grade 2. But it turns out that six of the 13 province/territory names are also aboriginal in origin. These include the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec and the territories of the Yukon and Nunavut. I knew that of Saskatchewan (because, well, just look at it), Ontario (because that’s where I went to school) and Nunavut (again, just look at it). The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada website has a decent, but by no means exhaustive, list of cities and towns with aboriginal names — including Winnipeg — that can be found here. My favourite? Rimouski, if only because it means “land of moose” and my best friend is convinced that everyone in Canada has a moose for a pet.**

Anyway, once I got back from my educational sidetrack, I also verified that Minnesota means “murky water” in Sioux. Etymonline says “cloudy water.” Good enough for me.

*I have had a smart phone for less than a year and I have absolutely no idea how I lived without one before that. In fairness, I was overseas from the time the first smartphones came out until just before I got my smartphone, but still. It’s amazing how easily accessible information is these days and how quickly I have adapted to having access to that information at all times.

**He doesn’t actually believe this because he’s not a complete idiot, but nearly every time I talk to him, especially if he’s been drinking, moose come into the conversation. It has been this way for as long as we’ve known each other.

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