“Sounook”, a modest proposal

A recent “op-ed” letter to a BC paper suggests replacing the term “Chinook wind”…

prince george citizen

(Image credit: Prince George Citizen)

…with a new coinage, “Sounook”.

I humbly doubt it will catch on.

Just giving a linguist’s reasons:

Clipping “Sou” from the word “south” is unnatural to English speakers.

  • It barely shortens the word, leaving us still with a “heavy” final syllable. Not much effort saved.
  • In most of Canadian English, it also mutates the diphthong from [əw] to [aw].
  • And the resulting “open” syllable causes an added cognitive burden of remembering that the reference is to the closed-syllable word “south”.

Plus, I infer that the letter-writer intends “Sounook” to be [sawnύk], stressing the final syllable — but in my experience, this kind of abbreviation (“Soho” and “Nobo” are other examples), stress goes on the first element.

There’s also the difficulty of using English spelling to specify the short [υ] vowel in “Chinook” as opposed to the long [u] in “kook”. In the initial stages at least, you’d have to rely on people already knowing the word “Chinook”.

And why replace “Chinook” with an equally long, more complicated, more confusing word?

The letter writer is clearly referring to warm southern winds from the coast — which already have an accepted, historically significant name, “Chinook”.

That’s my two cents.

Kata maika tumtum?
What do you think?
Kosay ti pens?