Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Say what?

  • Edina   (“ee-DINE-ah”)
  • Wayzata   (“why-ZET-uh”)
  • Nicollet (“nick-oh-LET”)
  • Wabasha   (“WAH-bah-shaw”)
  • Chickasha   (“CHICK-a-shay”)
  • Bowie   (“BOO-ee”)
  • Montague   (“MON-tayg”)
  • Mexia   (“muh-HAY-uh”)
  • Bexar   (“BAY’r”)
  • Waiuku   (“why-OO-[k]”)
  • Papatoetoe   (“papa-TOH-ee” … that’s just one toey)
  • Whangerei   (“[wh]FANG-uh-RAY”    uh, sort of... I can't actually pronounce Whangerei)

    These are all places I have lived near (or in).

    I am of the belief that people intentionally pronounce their local place names in a totally ridiculous manner so as to highlight and pick off the people around them who aren’t local.  Sort of a tag-and-shoot kind of thing.

    Just sayin’.

    Are you from someplace unpronounceable?  Let us in on it.  It’ll help us blend in.


    1. I may recognize some of those...
      Bexar, Mexia, and Bowie are all old buddies. My favorite I ran across in backwater Tennessee - Milan, which as you know, is pronounced MILE-um, with an extreme Southern accent on the MILE, rendering it MAH-lum. Mitch's people are from near there.

    2. We used to live in Etowah ( or Eddiwaw as some of the locals called it) and there was a Mecca Pike nearby, pronouonced Meccy to most folks around here. There's also Chestua (Chetueee). Vonore isn't far away. Those from here call it Vahnore, but folks from afar call it Vuhnore. Go figure. What I like is when we go up north and see Worchester, pronounced WOOOOster, and Wilkes Barre, pronounced Wilkes Barrey. Also Poughkeepsie, pronounced POOkeepsie. I could go on and on, but I'll stop.
      Oh yeah there's Maryville, pronounced Murvul around here!!!

    3. I thought Papatoetoe had two toe-s, but then I live at the other end of the country so what do I know. News presenters tend to be very formal in their pronunciation. Whangarei looks right. Maori placenames are generally pretty easy once you know that "wh" is "f". Many non-kiwis get a lot of amusement from Whakatane. The others on your list are just weird. However, for the most bizarre sounding placenames I think you have to go to Australia.

      Me, I'm from (and still in) Dunedin. Dun-EE-din.

    4. I got nothin' although I also lived near the first four on your list. But you already know that.

      There seem to be a fair number of places in Mexico that belong on your list...

      Oaxaca ("wah HA ca")

      and I guess I'm too lazy (and running late) to check the spellings on the others.

    5. Hi. I come from the country that gives you picturesque names such as Thunder Bay, Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Red Deer, Yellowknife, Whitehorse,(where I have lived, btw) Old Crow. All which are clearly pronounceable. However we also have Osoyoos (o soy use), Tsawwassen (ta was sen), Chilliwack, Kamloops, Ucluelet (u clue let), Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Petawawa, and our nation's capital Ottawa . The ones I didn't go into detail with are pronounced just the way they are spelled. There are many more. I think Canada could be in the running for the most bizarre sounding place names. I live in Kelowna (kel own a).

    6. I currently live in Atlanta, nothing funny about that... but one of the main streets is Ponce de Leon... don't get all Spanish on us though. You say it pons duh LE-on. Other fun Georgia town are Cairo (KAY-ro) and Albany (al-BAN-ee).

    7. Makawao - The "a's" sound like the word papa in the beginning with WOW the dominant syllable on the end. Don't say mah kah wah. You'll for sure be found out as a visitor or newbie to the island!

    8. Ah yes, the funny town names. I haven't lived in any towns with cool names *pooh*, but I've definitely lived near (or visited kin) in some. :-)

      Nowata-it's by Tulsa, and I'm pretty sure I remember it being pronounced as No-wat-uh.

      Runnymede-pronounced Run-Y-mead.

      Milan-prounounced MY-lan(d) (no "d" sound, but it's said as though you are saying "land")

      Shoenchen- Shin-Shin (like the body part said twice) apparently it's German?

      Emmeram-- Emma-Ram

      Elyria-- E-lyr-ia (You'd be surprised at some of the fun pronunciations of this one.)

      I'm sure there's more, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

    9. D'oh! Elle C beat me to it. Can you say "Saskatoon, Saskatchewan" five times fast? Well, at least it's phonetic.

      Though I don't think anywhere beats New Zealand place names. Seriously whack.

      Also, the first thing I thought when I saw that list was that you were collecting your word verifications. Speaking of which:

      Colyso: a small town in rural Kalkatroona, population 175. Pronounced "cole-slaw"

    10. I've never forgotten watching Telethon as a kid (television fundraiser) and the American celebrity who had come over to help raise the profile of the charity read out a pledge from 'Te Puke' with a look of horror and bewilderment on her face (pronounced 'tea' puke (pronounced the same as nooky). It still makes me chuckle to think about it.

    11. I grew up near the village of Musquodoboit Harbour (Mus-ka-DOB-it). It's an anglicization of a native Micmac word meaning "foam rolling in", and we really did have a very foamy river.

      Verification = fancend, pronounced Fancy-end. Why thank you, I do have a fancy end. ;)

    12. Now, we definitely say it NI-co-let. It's funny to hear out-of-state newscasters say Wayzata or Shakopee.

    13. Ah, Chickasha. Home of the Fightin' Chicks. Seriously.

      How about Alex? (Pronounced Eleck)

    14. I love NZ's funny names for places. I never got when a "wh" was supposed to be a "f" and when it was a "wh".

      Where I'm from, we don't need funny pronounciations for place names. We have a funny language that almost nobody understands and even if they do, they could never duplicate it if they didn't grow up there... *g* (umm, little places in Southern Germany...)

    15. I used to live on Anglesey in north Wales where the next village to mine was Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. I still haven't a clue how it was pronounced in full, everyone just referred to it as 'Clan-fair-P-G' (with a gutteral throaty noise on the 'cl')

    16. Here's a sound file of how to say it:

    17. Can't think of many good names in W. Australia except for Useless Loop (country town - wouldn't you feel positive if you lived there), Innaloo (suburb that makes kids chortle. Scenario: Q. where do you live? A. In a loo.) ha ha. Um... moving on... The Northern Territory has some good ones though; 'Humpty Doo' is a particular favourite. I came from Cornwall, UK which has lots of traps for the uninitiated. The town 'Mousehole' is said Mowzl (like Chairman Mao with zl at the end). Fowey is Foy etc. For the locals it's just like baiting the hook ... they sit in wait for the tourists to say the name wrong, at which point they can roll their eyes and think 'oh those non locals are such idiots'.

    18. Ohio USA is full of towns with foreign names butchered beyond recognition:
      Lima: LIE-muh
      Milan: MY-luhn
      Toledo: tuh-LEE-do
      Gnadenhutten: juh-NAY-den-hut-ten

      and my personal favorite
      Calmoutiers: CAL-uh-mooch

    19. Yay Chickasha! (Er, the Oklahoma one. Is there another one?)

      Also near me or just crack me up...
      Talala (and at Christmas, Talalala laaa la la la la)
      Eufala (you-fall-uh? Here, let me help-uh you up.)
      Checotah, home of Carrie Underwood (Shuh-coat-uh)
      And Bowlegs. My aunt & uncle lived there for years.

    20. Hey! You were (are? please say are!!) in mpls!!

      I've always heard/said nicolet as NICK-let. Also, 15 years in the city - ALL of them either working on the street or (now) living 2 blocks away from it and I have yet to be able to spell it correctly without resorting to the googles. Obv, I was to lazy to do that this time...

    21. Patty and Joy, I had to try saying "Nicollet" about twenty times... sometimes it came out NICKolet and sometimes it came out nickoLET. After much frustration, I finally came to the conclusion that I say it differently (like so many things) depending on the situation. Most of the time, I probably do say NICKolet. Like for instance, I for SURE say "NICKolet Island" but often as not, I might say, "I'm going over to that store on nickoLET".

      I'm going to say that since I spent my language-forming years about three blocks from there, this must be a localism?

      This isn't as weird as you might think. My whole family actually pronounces our own last name differently depending on various circumstances. Now that's weird.

      And Patty, sadly I am NOT in Mpls anymore. My rotten husband refuses to move up north. It is a daily tragedy for us all, trust me. I really really REALLY miss living in Minnesota.

    22. I grew up in Whangarei - pronounced Wong-a-ray for the first 18 years of my life. It wasn't till I moved down south that I heard it referred to as Fong-a-ray. Different Maori dialects.
      Did come across this video (made for Australians) and thought of you


    You know you want to say something....