A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME?

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People tend to get really upset if you mispronounce their names and are quick to set you straight (“No, it’s Carolyn, not Caroline.”)—even if you both know your acquaintance is to be very brief as one of you, say, writes out a receipt.

Well, we are just as persnickety about place names. A curse on you if you stumble over the name of someone’s hometown or home State. Never mind what Americans do to the names of some foreign locations. Anger in France is not a homonym or synonym for rage. It is “An’jay.” The Germans call one of their largest cities Munchen, not Munich. And in London Leicester Square is Lester Square, not Ly’cester.

Even on our own turf we are likely to run into issues. Perhaps those politicos seeking national office should have one of their aides deal with language when they are campaigning out in the boonies. Local pronunciations can be somewhat mystifying—but woe betide the pol who screws it up.

Some examples:

People in Illinois don’t pronounce that s on the end. Best you leave it off, too.

Folks in the “show me” State don’t say “Missouree” (sounding like misery). They call it “Missouruh.”

Out west you’d better flatten that first a in Nevada like the a in the word had. God help you if you say “Nevahdah”—even though that is the pronunciation most often used when discussing the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Oregon is NOT Ora gonne’ as in “gone and left us.” It is Ore’gun. Also in Oregon, that beautiful, fertile valley and its river is the Wil lam ette (middle syllable sounding like lamb), not the Will a mette (though, admittedly, that is a prettier way of saying it). Likewise Washington State’s apple producing Yakima Valley is the Yak i mah, not the Yakeema as at least one not-so-knowledgeable network reporter put it recently.

God knows how or why we have Kansas which seems easy enough, but Arkansas is Arkansaw. How’d that happen?

Are those eastern mountains the Appalaychans or the Appalatchans? Or something else?

Don’t you just love language and dialects?

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