What’s in a name?

Posted by Ken Campbell November 1, 2009 0 Comment 701 views

Native tribes used to call it Whulge. George Vancouver scribed the name of his lieutenant, Peter Puget, on maps that he was making as he traveled through the area. Now the waters that dominate western Washington and British Columbia have a new name, a new official designation: the Salish Sea.

The move is being done in an effort to show that the international boundary is not the natural break that we might assume it to be. It’s a solid line on the map, but for water, the border is fiction. The currents flow freely from Canada to the US and back, carrying with them the fish, the whales and the pollution from one side of the line to the other. Referring to the entire area as the Salish Sea is an effort by some to bring about a realization that the area is all one entity, rather than a collection of different and separate environments. Although the current names – Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia – will be retained, the new term will be used to demonstrate the interconnectedness that each part of the area has with the others.

It makes sense and I suppose I support it. Anything that blurs the border between Washington and British Columbia is probably a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. I can’t help but wonder, however, why the powers that be didn’t just go back to the original term instead of adopting a new one. “Salish Sea” sounds sexier than “Whulge,” I guess; it’s got to be a marketing decision.

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