I've been thinking of having another go at my old Vinland project (you might recall it as Swords of the Iroquois). Today I found myself coming up with a name for the St. Lawrence river in the language of the pre-Iroquoian people displaced by the Laurentines--a dead language of a people who didn't exactly leave written records.
Today I suddenly had the brainwave to check Wikipedia, and surprisingly it did list names for the river in native languages (direct quote: "Tuscarora: Kahnawáʼkye; Mohawk: Kaniatarowanenneh, meaning 'big waterway'"), so the next step was to translate that into something Algonquian. I decided to start with the Micmac language, based on physical proximity. Thanks to this site, I was able to translate "big" and "river" into Micmac, which gave me "mesgi'g" (mess-kick) and "sipu" (see-boo).
So tell me, does that name seem...familiar somehow? Like, say, the name of another "big river" in North America, maybe one a U.S. state takes it's name from? The next step was going to be hunting down some other native language translation</a> sites in order to compare the Micmac with other Algonquian languages, but that hardly seems necessary now. On the bright side, this means I'm not horribly mangling the grammar (though it may be that I should be using "mesgilg" instead of "mesgi'g") and that the logic behind the name is sound. Suitably mangling it to account for five centuries of an alternate universe's linguistic drift and transliteration by non-native speakers ought to render it suitably different from "Mississippi" to not confuse my readers.
So what do you think of these names for an alternate-universe St. Lawrence river? In this transliteration, j=y, y=ih, i=ee, and u=oo.