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What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

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What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby ERIC » Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:26 pm

William Tweed: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

william tweed • Our natural world
February 27, 2010
http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/articl ... /lifestyle



Here's a trick question. How many mountain ranges can you see east of Visalia on a clear late-winter morning? If you said one and only one, you win. Our eastern skyline is dominated by the Sierra Nevada.

I bring this up because lots of folks seem to think that they can see more than one range. How do I know? I here them say that they can see the "Sierras.

The Fresno County community of Clovis actually has a sign over its main street that proclaims that Clovis is the "Gateway to the Sierras."

The great mountain range that dominates Tulare County has a Spanish name. The title dates back to April 1776, when a Spanish soldier named Pedro Font pushed inland from newly discovered San Francisco Bay and saw a range of high mountains far to the east.

Describing what he saw, he mapped the feature as una gran sierra nevada -†literally "a big snowy mountain range." The name stuck. We still use it more than two centuries later.

Notice that Font, on that first day of European awareness of California's biggest mountains, got something very basic right. He grasped on that long ago day that California's Sierra Nevada was a single, continuous entity. This is why he called it the Sierra Nevada. If he had thought of it a complex of mountain ranges, he could have used the plural form: las sierras nevadas. But he didn't.

The Spanish language habit of calling a mountain ridge a sierra dates back a very long time. The word originally meant "serrated," and thus also came to mean "saw blade." Southern Spain has a serrated mountain range called [read more...]
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby Sierragator » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:14 pm

That is absolutely correct. I must be getting cranky in my old age as it bothers me more than it used to when people talk and write about "the sierras". There is "The Sierra", and it is huge, beautiful, and my favorite place to be.
Therefore we are all, in some sense, mountaineers, and going to the mountains is going home."
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby balzaccom » Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:04 pm

Here's a page from our website called "Favorite nits to pick:"

THE SIERRA. NEVADA.

OK—the mountain range is called the Sierra Nevada. Sierra, in Spanish, means “mountain range.” (Actually it has two meanings--the other one is a saw--as in the Sawtooth Range.)

So the range is the Sierra, not the Sierras. There are not many mountain ranges, there is one. And yes, we speak English here, not Spanish. That’s why we live in a state called California, in cities called Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and use words like patio, cargo, canyon, siesta, adobe, macho, aficionado, …and don’t even get me started on food. Ay! Caramba!

It’s the Sierra. Nevada.
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby balzaccom » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:00 am

And here's a link to the website itself:

http://www.backpackthesierra.com/

You'll find this note in the Stories/Fun section
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby Sierragator » Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:33 am

Several years ago I was in the Piute museum in Bishop. I asked one of the staff there what the Piutes called the Sierra. She said their word for it is "Tu Ba Ah", which means pine nut. Makes sense since they have been harvesting pine nuts in the Sierra for centuries.
Therefore we are all, in some sense, mountaineers, and going to the mountains is going home."
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:57 am

I guess the thing that irks me the most isn't so much the false and redundant plural "Sierras" as the redundant "Sierra Nevada Mountains". The latter is in a large family of redundant mountain names that are mistakenly used in some English translations: For example, "Sierra Nevada Mountains" is similar to "Mt. Fujiyama" (the "Mt" is the "yama", so it should translate "Mt. Fuji") or "Mount Taishan" ("Mt" is in the "shan" so it should be "Mt. Tai").
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby rlown » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:02 pm

giantbrookie wrote:I guess the thing that irks me the most isn't so much the false and redundant plural "Sierras" as the redundant "Sierra Nevada Mountains". The latter is in a large family of redundant mountain names that are mistakenly used in some English translations: For example, "Sierra Nevada Mountains" is similar to "Mt. Fujiyama" (the "Mt" is the "yama", so it should translate "Mt. Fuji") or "Mount Taishan" ("Mt" is in the "shan" so it should be "Mt. Tai").


Any chance that the seemingly individual plutons that formed the range would encourage subrange definition? Just thinking that several parts of the Sierra are vastly different. I'm no geologist, and i don't get hung up if someone pluralizes the name. I know to what they refer.

Just playing with ya, GB.. :D
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:10 pm

rlown wrote:Any chance that the seemingly individual plutons that formed the range would encourage subrange definition? Just thinking that several parts of the Sierra are vastly different. I'm no geologist, and i don't get hung up if someone pluralizes the name. I know to what they refer.
Just playing with ya, GB.. :D


Actually, the geologic definition of the Sierra is more confused than the popular one. For example, the geologic definition of the range that applies today would be that which is bounded on the east by what we call the Frontal Fault system (think eastern escarpment). This is tricky because these faults have progressively encroached westward for the last 20 m.y. or so (ie the fault-bounded block was once much wider). Even so, many geologists today tend to mix geologic and eco-system/geographic definitions. For example, the ranges east of Quincy, known as the Diamond Mtns. are commonly lumped into the Sierra, as is the Carson Range. This, however, is horribly inconsistent, because from a geologic/tectonic standpoint, it is the equivalent to including the White-Inyo Mtns. in the Sierra (yes, I've put this rant into print in the scientific literature). Yet, one will find these mixed definitions regularly in the published academic literature. It gets worse when one goes further back in time. For example, the granitic rocks we know of as the "Sierra Nevada batholith" spill well east of the modern boundaries of the range (as defined above) and their eastern boundary diverges notable from the axis of the range from just south of Tahoe northward. It gets worse still as one looks to the metamorphic rocks that predate the batholith (ca. 150- 85 m.y. old). These rocks consist of multiple belts of metamorphic rock, that include multiple ocean basins that were swallowed up, some of which may have been thousands of km across. The mere basic definitions of these older belts, let alone their interpretation, are sharply debated,as no two geologists who have ever published on this subject ever agree on even basics (yes, this means geologists still need to do a lot more research on some really interesting rocks). Accordingly, if we took a geologic definition of the Sierra Nevada, it may get far more complicated than the popular one of the big mountain range that runs from just south of Lassen to the Tehachapis.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby dave54 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:01 pm

and the chronicle had an illustration in an article last week that showed the "Northern Sierras" extending all the way to the Oregon state line. :retard:
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby Hetchy » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:24 pm

This is more interesting stuff than it might seem at first. I remember Birdman making a point that we had entered the Cascades when the trail passed Lassen.
My own world was rocked in 2008 when I ventured beyond Dorothy lake Pass in Norhtern Yosemite. Everything was white and pinkish Granite yet as went through the pass the surrounding rock turned dark as if by magic. I actually had to take off my sunglasses to be sure what i was seeing was real!
Last year i got to push my own experience further and was totally amazed at the variety of rock and how it alternated from section to section. I had always thought it would be that same "Yosemite" Grey and White.
Sonora Pass area was altogether another thing. It completely blew be away. I really felt as if i had entered another world.
As a side note I had learned from this forum to call the Sierra by that name.. plural excluded. To my chagrin folks corrected me every where I went. I finally just gave up and trying to explain but kept calling them the Sierra Nevada.
OHHH! Castle Crags is an interesting place.. There are definitely more than just one crag yet they all "sprout" from a single base. On the way down the PCT into Castella/Dunsmuir area they appear in the distance as a giant Molar (Tooth) of a canine.
Anyhow, I never won any converts but I continue to call them the Sierra. :D

Image
Castle Crags
Image


Towards Sonora Pass area


Image

Dorothy Lake Northern Yosemite :D

Image

Then there is the McKenzie Pass area in Oregon.. Yes I was quite beside myself here. :eek:
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby jimqpublic » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:01 pm

After seeing Tulainyo Lake on maps for 30 years I just realized its origin a few days ago. It's almost on the border of Tulare and Inyo counties...
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Re: What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Sierra Nevada

Postby Snow Nymph » Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:06 pm

Bringing this to the top again. I'm seeing a lot of "SIERRAS" in posts, not just here.

Copied from http://www.owensvalleyhistory.com/stori ... ierras.pdf

The SPANISH word sierra means "range of mountains," and is usually found in combination with other words, such as Sierra Blanca (White Range), Sierra Madre (Mother Range, or Central Range), and Nevada (Snowy Range). Occasionally las sierras is used to designate a group of mountain ranges or ridges. In the Spanish narratives of exploration una sierra nevada is frequently found written without capital initials, referring simply to a snow-covered range of mountains. It was in this that our own Sierra Nevada was first designated. Early in the nineteenth century it was sometimes called the California Range by American explorers, but gradually the Spanish phrase prevailed, and after a while it became a specific name and took its place on all maps. The Sierra Nevada is distinctly a unit, both geographically and topographically, and is well described as "una sierra nevada." Strictly speaking, therefore, we should never say "Sierras," or "High Sierras," or "Sierra Nevadas" in referring to it. Nevertheless, these forms are so frequently found in the very
best works of literature and science that it would perhaps be pedantic to deny their admissibility. It becomes, therefore, a matter of preference, and for our part we rather like to keep in mind the unity of our great range by calling it simply "The Sierra" or "The Sierra Nevada."
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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