Monday, October 7, 2013

Tichigan

Q: I want to understand the meaning behind the lake I live on.  I've heard different meanings. The lake is called Tichigan. In the past this was spelled Tish Shar Gan.

A: Unless somebody contemporary wrote down what the meaning of the name was supposed to be, there's a lot of educated guesswork involved in puzzling out place names. The final version of the name rarely bears enough resemblance to the original to be 100% certain of its origins. In his book Native American Placenames of the United States, the extremely reliable linguist Bill Bright suggested it might have been shortened from "tchigi-kitchi-gama," from the Ojibwe words jiigew-gichigami, which mean "along the great lake." We'd add that it could even have just been corrupted from gichigami, "great lake." Although it's not exactly common for English speakers to change a "g" into a "t" unprovoked, stranger things have happened.


In either case, the final spelling of "Tichigan" was probably influenced by the better-known place name Michigan, which comes from a different Ojibwe synonym for "big lake" or "great lake" (mishigami).

Hope that helps, have a good day!
Native Languages of the Americas


Further reading:
Native American Indian names
Ojibwe language
Michigan tribes

2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much!

    I'm leaning towards "jiigegichigami" due to it's relative proximity to the Great Lake. Tichigan Lake was not much more than a widening of the fox river when it was residence to Native Americans.

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  2. Sorry but Tichigan is NOT a widening of the Fox River! Tichigan is north of the river, and although it joins to the south, the Fox river by no means flows through it!!!!!!!!!!

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