Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pronunciations: Say it like a native

I grew up in a part of the world where there were town names like Worcester (Woster), Leominster (Lemonster), or Athol (Athall not Athole, as I had heard it pronounced).  When I moved to Texas I was surprised at some of the pronunciations of names... I knew a little Spanish, and thought Lamesa would be LaMaysa, not the local Lameesa.  It made sense in a way, because the Spanish name was Anglicized. I was also appalled at how little effort locals made to learn correct pronunciation of non-Anglo names, my own Polish one (at the time) included.

Growing up in a part of the world where there were many ethnic backgrounds, we did learn to say names, at least, as their owners pronounced them. Which meant someone with a Polish surname could say Italian names reasonably well...

So, I moved to Lubbock (not Luubock but Lubbuck).  And was amazed at the mispronunciations I heard... Ideal for idea, nucular for nuclear, lano for yawno (Llano).  And I learned early on that Bexar County (Bayer County, home of San Antonio) was not pronounced they way it looked... And, I am always amazed that life long Texans do not know this.

There are some famous mispronunciations, one of the most famous for these parts is the way natives pronounce New Orleans.  I will not even try to phoneticize the way natives say it. Or the famous New England accent "Pahk the cah" (park the car) or go to Hahvavd (Harvard.)

Tonight, I was watching The Weather Channel http://www.weather.com/ as Vortex2 www.vortex2.org/home/ was airing their tornado chase.  I had to smile as I listened to the broadcasters back in The Weather Channel studio... Borger (hard g) became Borgier (soft g), Dumas (Duumas) became Dumass. The broadcasters were doing their best to report places about which they had no knowledge, and about which they have never heard before... I appreciate their effort, and the difficulty of knowing the local pronunciation.

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