Ouachita/Washita/Wichita (was Manfreda/Agave virginica)

Steve Marak samarak@gizmoworks.com
Thu, 01 Jul 2010 13:02:31 PDT

I can only comment on the common usage in the Arkansas Ouachitas (where I 
grew up).

There, the "Ouachita" spelling seems preferred, and the name of the lake, 
river, etc. are all spelled that way. But "Washita" turns up also, as in 
"Washita novaculite", which if I recall correctly from my childhood is 
considered one of the highest grades of that substance, at least when used 
for whetstones. 

They are pronounced identically (though I do remember one Little Rock 
newscaster pronouncing Ouachita as ow-a-CHEET-a on the news one night and 
having to apologize the next).

I have never seen "Wichita" used to refer to anything in the Ouachitas, 
nor is it pronounced the same there, but of course that means nothing as 
far as the etymology.

The Ouachitas are a rich area, botanically, with new species being 
discovered by the state botanists every year (though mostly things that 
are interesting only botanically, not horticulturally, except to the very 
most plant-geeky of us). Though not high mountains in the absolute sense, 
there is even some "island" effect - things found here and there, only at 
the highest elevations, as disjunct populations.

The same area where many of those discoveries are being made (roughly from 
Hot Springs west to the Oklahoma state line) is also a favorite spot for 
rockhounds, with quite a variety of minerals to hunt, including diamonds.


On Thu, 1 Jul 2010, Jim McKenney wrote:

> Aaron mentioned "the Ouachita's (of Arkansas)"
> Are Ouachita, Washita and Wichita basically the same word given different
> phonetic transcriptions? 

-- Steve Marak
-- samarak@gizmoworks.com

More information about the pbs mailing list