Language

Football season has kicked off another round of scrutiny over how professional sports teams use Native American mascots. But in eastern Washington, a minor league baseball team has earned the approval of its native namesake.

Avista Stadium in Spokane is full of the familiar sights, sounds and smells of baseball. And then, there are things that might make you do a double take.

Re-branding in two languages

Kamiah, rural, small town
Kara Oehler / Flickr Creative Commons

Idahoans are passionate about how to say the places in which they live. We learned that earlier this month with a post about the 10 places only Idahoans know how to pronounce.

You sent us dozens of suggestions, comments and explanations about Idaho's unique place names. Commentors also disagreed about the correct pronunciation of some words, which is to be expected, says Boise State University Assistant Professor of Linguistics Tim Thornes.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

In an emergency, the last thing you want to hear is, "I can't understand you." The reality is emergency dispatchers in the Northwest generally speak one language, English. But in our increasingly polyglot society, some people in distress inevitably can't communicate in English.

A recent emergency call came in to the Willamette Valley 911 Center in Salem, Oregon where the caller didn't speak the same language as the dispatcher. This call could have happened anywhere in the West. A call in a foreign language is a near-daily occurrence in this region's urban counties.

Welcome to Idaho
Craig Cloutier / Flickr Creative Commons

Here's one way to find out if someone is from Idaho: ask them to pronounce Boise, Coeur d'Alene, or Pend Oreille.

If there’s one thing that trips up folks from outside Idaho, it’s our weird and wonderful place names.  Counties, cities, and rivers in Idaho can be hard to pronounce, if you don’t know them well.

These 10 words can be tough for new Idahoans (special thanks to the Idaho Press Club’s Idaho Pronunciation Guide).

Chief Tahgee, Fort Hall, Kindergarten
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This new kindergarten classroom on eastern Idaho’s Fort Hall Indian Reservation looks and feels much like any other. Tiny tables and chairs fill the room, bright drawings and artwork hang on the walls, and small coats hang on low-to-the-ground hooks. It’s the sound of the classroom that’s truly one-of-a-kind.

About 30 five-and-six-year-olds are learning to speak Shoshone.

“Benna, ne naniha J.J.”

“Ne naniha Miley.”

U.S. Census Bureau

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show the Northwest has fewer people who speak a foreign language at home than the country as a whole.

Census data show 10.4 percent of Idahoans speak a language other than English in their homes, while the national average is 20.8 percent.

Language Map
http://www4.ncsu.edu/~jakatz2/project-dialect.html

Do you know what a sunshower is? Chances are you're not from Idaho if you do. If you say "pop" when referring to a sugary can of carbonation, you're more likely to be from Coeur d'Alene than Boise. And when it comes to what Boiseans call a sale of unwanted stuff, it's kind of a toss-up: "garage sale" and "yard sale" are both acceptable terms.