Title: Letter to the Ed[itor]
Publication: The Outcrop, November 2000, p. 6
I enjoyed the briefing on “Shinarump” in the September issue. During my undergrad tenure at the U of U, we were advised that “shinarump” had been derived from a Native American word for “wolf”. The first six letters (shinar) carried this meaning, and the addition of ” … ump” was unaccounted for.
Some of us, having nothing better to do with our time (except work on Dr. Chapman’s never-ending Potential Theory problems), decided that the word came into existence this way:
Upon sighting a wolf, an individual would cry out, “Shinar!” as a distress/alarm call. Now, most of the time, when a wolf spies a member of H. sapiens, what would the wolf have in mind? Right! LUNCH! Thus, the person who yelled, “Shinar!”, most likely while turning and running, was about to be pounced on by the shinar.
I do not know about you, but every time I’ve been pounced upon by a hungry wolf, and knocked to the ground, I usually make some kind of sound equivalent to having the wind knocked out of me–something along the lines of, “Ooooof”! The Native word equivalent to “Oooooof!” must be “uummp!” Therefore, putting the two together gets you:
Person: “Shinar!” Wolf: “Gggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-rouffff!” (pounces upon fleeing individual). Person: ”Arrrr! ——UUUMMMMPPPPP!” (followed by screams)
The only thing we never resolved while at the U was whether it was proper to pronounce the name of the Lower Triassic Conglomerate as shin’-a-roomp, or as shin-air’-oomp. Dr. Stokes used both interchangeably throughout his undergrad and graduate stratigraphy classes.
Mark Hladik, Consulting Geologist, Casper, Wyoming