It’s time to sit back and relax about the ‘Salish Sea’

I guess we can quit talking about the Salish Sea as if this body of water has a new, exotic name.

After all, many folks have been using this name for years. In my effort to be formal and proper, I’ve rarely used it. But things have changed since “Salish Sea” became an official, formally approved name at the end of last year.

Now, in the latest development, the American Name Society declared “Salish Sea” the “Name of the Year” last weekend. That should end the discussion for good.

I interviewed the man who conducted the competition and wrote the following for today’s Kitsap Sun:

The name “Salish Sea” has been chosen over “Twitter” as the American Name Society’s “Name of the Year.”

The Salish Sea is defined as the inland waterway in Washington and British Columbia that includes Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia.

“I think it is significant because it is a brand new name,” said Cleveland Evans, who conducted the competition for the American Name Society, an academic organization. “It fits ecological interests, being invented by a biologist. And it has a Native American connection, chosen from a name for a broad ethnic group…”

The Canadian connection didn’t hurt either, Evans said, because his organization has a significant number of Canadian members.

The name “Salish Sea” was conceived a decade ago by Bert Webber, a professor at Western Washington University in Bellingham. Webber, a biologist, wanted to stress the ecological connections between the branching waterway that crosses the international border. He took “Salish” from Coast Salish, an ethnographic designation for many Northwest native people.

“Salish Sea” became an official name in 2009, when it was adopted by the Washington State Board on Geographic Names, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names and the Geographic Names Board of Canada.

Please read the story for information about the names that “Salish Sea” beat out to become the “Name of the Year” and why “Barack Hussein Obama” was chosen as the “Name of the Year” last year.

While the American Name Society gets to choose the “Name of the Year,” its sister organization, the American Dialect Society chooses the “Word of the Year.”

The dialect folks chose the word “tweet,” as the favored “Word of the Year” and “google” as the “Word of the Decade.”

In reading through the ADS announcement about the winners of the word contest (PDF 205 k), I found that the word declared “Most Likely to Succeed” was “twenty-ten,” the chosen pronunciation for the year 2010.

Speaking of 2010, I have noticed something very strange in how people are speaking. It’s not so unusual to choose “twenty-ten” as the pronunciation for this year. After all, we have to call it something. But after nine years of saying “two-thousand-one,” “two-thousand-two,” etc., up to the end of last year, why are a growing number of people suddenly saying “twenty-oh-nine”? Figure that one out.

4 thoughts on “It’s time to sit back and relax about the ‘Salish Sea’

  1. 1) Excluding the organization itself, the purpose and benefit of the ‘American Name Society’ and their ‘Awards’ to the taxpayer is – what?

    2) How much does it cost the taxpayer to support this organization?

    How can ordinary taxpayers find the list of tax supported organizations and their purported purpose?
    Sharon O’Hara

  2. I googled (with the small g, the “Word of the Decade”) to find that: The American Name Society, founded in 1951, is a learned society founded “to promote onomastics, the study of names and naming practices, both in the United States and abroad [and] to investigate cultural insights, settlement history, and linguistic characteristics revealed in names.”

    Like most Societies, it did not cost the taxpayer a “red cent” (an Indian head penny), but Sharon should google the Washington State Board on Geographic Names, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names and the Geographic Names Board of Canada to find answer to her questions.

    Read more:

  3. It is not Puget Sound. Puget Sound does not include the Strait of Juan de Fuca or the Strait of Georgia (also called Georgia Straits). If you write reports and have to describe all three of those waterbodies in one sentence, it gets tiresome….hence, the Salish Sea. So, if nothing else, for descriptive purposes, it is helpful. Saves ink, saves paper.

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