Shenandoah

I’m accompanying the senior choir of Wesley College at a Feis Ceoil thing on Monday. One of the pieces they’re singing is a Bob Chilcott arrangement of the lovely American folk song, ‘Shenandoah’.

If you know the song, it only has one note for the -doah part of the word. Got me thinking about the word, which I’d presumed to be from a Native American language. If you elide those last two syllables (as the song’s word-setting suggests), though, it takes on a very French sound. As I understand it, the word is commonly pronounced with all the syllables: Shen-an-do-ah. The song hints at an earlier, more French pronunciation: Shen-an-dwah.

Any thoughts / actual facts?! A cursory browse of Wikipedia didn’t provide me with any clues, so I turn to you good people…

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