Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bill Bellevile, Author

If you haven’t read about how Ibi was named, go back to November posts, and read “Good News/Bad News and the Naming of Ibi,” dated November 24th. When I found the word in Bill Belleville’s book, “River of Lakes”, which I reviewed on November 28th, I felt naming the Superior Expedition “Ibi” was the perfect way to tie the boat to its natural element. The next question was how to pronounce it. Was it a short ‘I’ as in indian, or a long ‘I’ as in ibis? I added, “I reasoned, perhaps incorrectly, that since the ibis is a water bird and native to the same area, ibi may be the root of the bird’s name, making it a long “I”.” I couldn’t find any help with an internet search, so I decided to go to the source and question the author. I tried to e.mail Mr. Belleville in care of the University of Georgia Press, the publisher. Much to my surprise, I received a response from him within a day.
In this age when most such requests would find their way immediately to the circle file, I really appreciated that he’d take the time to send both a gracious answer, and to further include additional background information. He wrote:

Thanks for the interesting note, and the nice comments on "River of Lakes".
Good question. I use the long "i" when pronouncing ibi. If you want to be more precise, you might track down linguist Julian Granberry's guide to the Timucua language and grammar. Granberry based his study on the testimony given by Timucua to the Spanish priest Fr. Pareja. The Spanish were interested in the Timucua language in order to be able to document their beliefs, and thus, to be able to more efficiently convert them.
Then again, we're getting the English translation of a Spanish translation of a language that didn't have a written form. (Even the word "Timucua" was crudely translated, and quite inaccurate as to its description of the actual name of the aboriginal nation the Spanish first met here.)
I guess when all is said and done the joy of a paddling trip like you're planning is in the discovery---of new words, new ideas, new people and places. I wish you all the best in your adventures in "Ibi".
Take care

In trying to see how to contact Mr. Belleville, I found his site. If you are interested in nature and ecology, as I guess most paddlers are, checking his site would be doing yourself a favor.

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