only one 'sh' in chicago
I was reading in a newspaper today why Chicagoan's pronounce Chicago with a 'sh'
sound at the beginning (as in she) and not a 'ch'
(as in cheese). It might not mean much to you but after 6 months of living here and being corrected everytime you say where you live can become rather irritating. Of course I soon caught on with the 'correct' pronunciation but never understood why.
Well I read today that there are two schools of thought to the reasoning. One is that the present-day pronunciation of 'Chicago' derives from the variation of a Native American term by early French-speaking settlers, but what is more likely is that the distinctive 'shh' goes back to Chicago's Indian origins.
Native American Indians have a lot of history in the northern midwest with place names such as Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Waukesha and Kankokee still existing today. In fact the state of Illinois is named after the indigenous Illiniwek people, a group of Algonquian tribes that thrived in the area. The word Illiniwek means 'tribe of superior men.'Tim Samuelson
, a cultural historian for the City of Chicago said that the Native American's pronunciation of the city was 'Shig-gau-go,' which translates in Algonquian
to 'the skunk' or 'garlic fields.' The actual name 'Shi-cago' probably came before the city itself although it doesn't entirely explain why Chicagoans pronounce it the way they do today.