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EmPHAsis on the right sylLABle
June 28, 2013 10:42 AM   Subscribe

How to pronounce Chicago street names. How to pronounce London street names. How to pronounce Austin street names. How to pronounce New Orleans street names (and a whole lot else). How to pronounce "Spuyten Duyvil," "Kosciuszko" and "Goethals." How to pronounce "Van Nuys," "Sepulveda," "San Pedro," and "Los Angeles."

-A vintage Languagehat article offers a different take on "Kosciuszko."
-Previously: odd pronunciations of proper names.
posted by Iridic (120 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Los Angeles."

It does always make me wince to hear persons from certain places say "Loss An-gull-EEZ."
posted by psoas at 10:45 AM on June 28, 2013


Schuylkill is pronounced SKOO-kill. It comes from Netherland Dutch and means Hidden River.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:46 AM on June 28, 2013


Manchaca - Just forget that 'a' at the end. It's man-chack.

Hmmm. I always heard it pronounced "man-shack," as in "Come down to the ManShack for the Thursday Night Dance Party! $1 Well Drinks All Night!"
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:48 AM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


New York City: HOW-ston. That's it, you're good to go.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:49 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pacific Northwest pronunciation guide. Methow Valley has always stymied me.

In Houston you pronounce San Felipe "San Philip-ee."
posted by purpleclover at 10:50 AM on June 28, 2013


Huh, I thought this was going to be about correct LOCAL pronunciations and not technically correct via original language pronunciations.

She then blurted out something that sounded to us like “kash-CHOOV-ska,” said very quickly.

Pretty sure the average New Yorker would not have the slightest clue what you were talking about if you said this.
posted by elizardbits at 10:51 AM on June 28, 2013


I’m sorry. Did you say “Devin”? Devin Hester has nothing to do with Devon. In this case, we’re talking about Devon Avenue, pronounced “Dih-VONNE.”

Hell yeah!
posted by hal_c_on at 10:53 AM on June 28, 2013


When staying in Borough, my fiancée and I decided that it was pronounced "burr-OOH". Or maybe "BURR-uff".
posted by madcaptenor at 10:54 AM on June 28, 2013


I always like to leave a little Frank Black in this discussion.
posted by mykescipark at 10:54 AM on June 28, 2013


What Chicago street names rhyme with vagina?

Paulina, Melvina, and Lunt

aaaaand I'll see myself out now
posted by photovox at 10:55 AM on June 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yeah, well, Worcester.

(Massachusetts represent!)
posted by Curious Artificer at 10:56 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


How to pronounce St. Louis street names: like you are unaware that French is a separate language.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:56 AM on June 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


What? No Massachusetts pronunciation guide? As far as cities and towns go, there's a simple rule for many: if it has more than two syllables, it only has two syllables. Final 'r' is optional.

Worcester: WOUster ('wou' as in 'would')
Haverhill: HAVril
Peabody: PEAbuddy
Leominster: LEMnster
Gloucester: GLOSSter

Some more.
posted by hanoixan at 10:57 AM on June 28, 2013


With weather often hot or cold, or both.
Tell me, if you were sworn on oath,
Would you live on Burton, or would you live on Goethe?

Gotcha! It’s actually pronounced “Gur-ta." Outside of Germans, five-time Jeopardy champions, and bus drivers, not a lot of local folk know that.


I was delighted to find out one day that the automated bus stop announcement guy on the bus pronounces this correctly, so that's how I know. Taking the bus a lot instructed me on a lot of street name pronunciations.

In general though Americans, and in particular Illinoisians, love to butcher foreign-sounding place names.
posted by bleep at 10:57 AM on June 28, 2013


Pico and Sepulveda

Darn it, I can't find that old song that is just a recitation of the names of LA street names going from East to West.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:59 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


All cities are correctly pronounced as their airport code. Los Ángeles, for example, is pronounced "el-ey-eks," New York City is pronounced "jay-eff-kay," Dallas is pronounced "dee-eff-double-you," and Chicago is pronounced "Hell."
posted by yeolcoatl at 11:00 AM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


charlie don't surf, was it this?!
posted by carsonb at 11:00 AM on June 28, 2013


Yeah, well, Worcester.

For a state with such weirdly pronounced names, all the cities seem to have terribly mundane street names like trees and dead presidents.

Take a left on Trees Lane and go about half a mile. Take the right at the light on to Dead Presidents Street.

Gotcha! It’s actually pronounced “Gur-ta."

Ehhhh.... kinda. There's no "r" pronounced there. The umlaut-O (or "oe" as it is often written in languages without the umlaut) is pronounced more like you got punched in the stomach - "uh!"
posted by backseatpilot at 11:00 AM on June 28, 2013


A similar guide for Houston.
posted by jph at 11:00 AM on June 28, 2013


All cities are correctly pronounced as their airport code. Los Ángeles, for example, is pronounced "el-ey-eks," New York City is pronounced "jay-eff-kay" and Chicago is pronounced "Hell."

Phoenix is pronounced "fucks".
posted by madcaptenor at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


St. Louis Street names:
Gravois - GRA-voy
Lafayette - LAY-fyet
Carondelet - KRON-du-let
and my own street name:
Goethe - GO-thee. My wife's best friend, whose mother is Austrian and spoke German at home, refuses to say it, and shudders at the mere mention of our street. Not the "Goeth." in the FPP, GO-thee, with a hard th.
posted by notsnot at 11:01 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Worcester: WOUster ('wou' as in 'would')

Wousta, surely.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:05 AM on June 28, 2013


charlie don't surf, was it this?!

No it definitely was not that song. It was more of a 1950s swingy jazz tune. It was literally nothing but the names of the streets you'd cross as you drove down one street. I think I recall it recites the cross-streets as you go down several different streets, maybe one in the Valley too.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:09 AM on June 28, 2013


La Jolla and Bala Cynwyd are the worst.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:11 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, where the main street, Weber, is pronounced "WEE-burr."

Now I am in Toronto, where Roncesvalles Avenue is pronounced RONSE-iss-vales. Jesus wept.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 11:14 AM on June 28, 2013


Whatever, man. Last time this came up languagehat told me that you pronounce a place name however the hell you want to and fuck the local opinion.
posted by jacalata at 11:14 AM on June 28, 2013


I was corrected recently that the pronunciation of Galveston Street next to my house is "gal-VEST-in" and not "gal-veh-STEN". Not sure why.
posted by octothorpe at 11:15 AM on June 28, 2013


Why are you messing with our Shibboliths? They're how we know outsiders!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:15 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, well, Worcester.

...

For a state with such weirdly pronounced names, all the cities seem to have terribly mundane street names like trees and dead presidents.

Except Worcester has Henchman Street, which is one of the best street names ever.
posted by usonian at 11:16 AM on June 28, 2013


You yankees just keep yer dang polack talk out of Mississippi and we'll all be jest fine, got it?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:17 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm never sure how to pronounce Spanish-derived names in San Francisco. Which ones are pronounced correctly and which are bastardized? The general rule seems to be to pronounce them basically correctly (with accomodations for English phonology) except for that "ll" is pronounced as if it were "l". I live in fear of one day moving to the intersection of Cabrillo and Arguello, because my instinct is to pronounce the "ll" as if it were Spanish.

Also, this will blow your mind: Alemany Boulevard is named for Joseph Sadoc Alemany. He was Catalan, and "Alemany" is just the Catalan word for "German". The "ny" is pronounced like the "ñ" in Spanish. But San Franciscans pronounce it something like "al-uh-mane-ee".
posted by madcaptenor at 11:17 AM on June 28, 2013


Well, octothorpe, as someone who grew up in Galveston, Texas, I'm just shocked that you'd pronounce it any other way than our city does... which is neither of the options you provided! We say "GAL-vest'n." o_O

Also, there is a development in West Houston that uses musical terms and composers names for streets. They started with some fairly bland things like "Brahms Lane" or whatever, but when some musicians offered them some wilder suggestions we ended up with a whole list of curious options, which Texans have done with what Texans are wont to do in such situations.

So "Scherzo Ln" has become "Shares-o Lane."

Nearby "Butterfly Lane" was once "Cio-Cio San Ln" - but I think that was maybe just too much for everyone.
posted by jph at 11:17 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Shibboliths

Don't you mean "shibbolEth"? You must not be from around here.

(A shibbolith would be a good name for a distinctive stonework that only locals know about.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:19 AM on June 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


If Americans visiting London want to do just one thing to sound less like visiting Americans I would recommend the thing about not sounding the "h" in names that end in "...ham". As soon as we hear Bucking-ham, Ful-ham or Totten-ham we know where you live. I mean, we do anyway, but that one makes it especially obvious.

"Tottenham" is also good practice for the London glottal stop. It's pronounced "Toh'nm". Nail that one and people will be impressed.
posted by Decani at 11:20 AM on June 28, 2013


I've lived in downtown Harrisburg PA for going on 5 years. People kept talking about a Minnich St in directions. "Keep going past Minnich..." etc.

I found out about two months ago they were referring to Meunch St. Say what?
posted by sio42 at 11:23 AM on June 28, 2013


How to pronounce Toronto street names. Unfortunately it doesn't cover Bloor.

I'm glad my friend moved off Roncesvalles because I was never comfortable pronouncing that one.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:23 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The New Orleans pronunciations above are via MetaFilter's own chuq.
posted by ColdChef at 11:23 AM on June 28, 2013


Peabody: PEAbuddy

It's almost like "Peab'dy." The middle syllable is in there, but just barely. I've never been able to get it right. Other Massachusetts pronunciations I found odd but have never had trouble saying (e.g. "Quinzy" and "Bill-ricka"), but I feel like I need speech therapy to get "Peabody" right.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:24 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh good lord. I grew up in Southern Ohio which had hillbilly pronunciations of a LOT of foreign names (MAD-rid anyone?) and now I live in the Front Range, which has (among other outrages) LEWIS-ville.

ugh.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:24 AM on June 28, 2013


Oh, and "Towcester" is pronounced "Toaster". I always enjoy that one.
posted by Decani at 11:24 AM on June 28, 2013


The pronunciation of the Pittsburgh suburb of North Versailles still throws me. It's "ver-SALES" and if you try to say something like "VER-sigh" no one will know what you're talking about.

I have a co-worker from Montreal looked like he was in physical pain trying to pronounce it the local way.
posted by octothorpe at 11:30 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


lonefrontranger, I had a similar experience, growing up in Dayton. My favorites have to be Bellefontaine (pronounced "bell-fountain") and Versailles (pronounced "ver-sales"), because you can so clearly imagine the 19th century settlers saying "Fuck it, whatever."
posted by incomple at 11:34 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a street here called "Schuyler" that some people pronounce as "shool-yer" but I'm pretty sure it's pronounced "skyler". Maybe I'm wrong though.
posted by gucci mane at 11:35 AM on June 28, 2013


"Yeah, well, Worcester."

"Oh, and "Towcester" is pronounced "Toaster". I always enjoy that one."

So, in my neighborhood (Lohs FAY-leez/Los Fee-liz), we live near two streets that are consistently dump sites for busted furniture due to flukes of zoning (stairways mean there's no houses, so people dump). We call 'em, "Bureauville" and "Drawertown," but since my girlfriend used to live in Cambridge and we always giggled about Wooster etc., we pronounce 'em "Burvil" and "Drawtun," and pretend they're rival towns.
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do admit to once driving around far longer than I should have, looking for Shane Park in Detroit. And God help out of towners with Livernois and Hamtramck.
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 AM on June 28, 2013


Atlanta's Ponce de Leon Ave is pronounced Pontz Duh LEEon.
posted by workerant at 11:39 AM on June 28, 2013


Livernois

I'm a little disappointed it's not more French-sounding, like in Lafayette Blues. But I guess Detroit isn't Day-TWAH, either, so points for consistency.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 11:46 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure the average New Yorker would not have the slightest clue what you were talking about if you said this.

I just call it "The Polish Bridge" and never once has anyone been confused. I've been pronouncing Goethals like there's a phantom R in there, though, so glad to be corrected on that.

Oh, and Tottenham Hotspur is the most British collection of syllables that will ever exist.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:48 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Tottenham" is also good practice for the London glottal stop. It's pronounced "Toh'nm". Nail that one and people will be impressed.

Yessss. Repeated viewings of My Fair Lady finally paid off.
posted by book 'em dano at 11:50 AM on June 28, 2013


A friend of mine who is a native of upstate NY remains amused at my initial attempt to pronounce "Skaneateles." (Hint: not "Skaneetles.")

In the Rochester area, the local shibboleth appears to be "Chili," with both "i" sounds long.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:51 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember taking the bus in Chicago right around the time they switched from the drivers announcing the stops to an automated voice system. Suddenly "Go-ee-thee" was "Gur-ta;" I'm pretty sure a few people missed their stop that first week.
posted by kewb at 11:58 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The pronunciation of the Pittsburgh suburb of North Versailles still throws me. It's "ver-SALES" and if you try to say something like "VER-sigh" no one will know what you're talking about.

In Illinois, we have Cairo (CAY-roe), Athens (AY-thuns), and New Berlin (noo BURR-lin).
posted by kewb at 12:00 PM on June 28, 2013


Skinny-ata-lis!

There are a lot of really great examples of this stuff in upstate NY. Some of them are just daunting when you look at them for the first time. But once you've heard them, you can usually kind of get there eventually. Like Oneonta (oni-on-tuh), and Chautauqua (sha-taw-kwah). Schenectady (skuh-neck-tuh-dee).
posted by jph at 12:02 PM on June 28, 2013


Fortunately there is a Pronunciation Manual on YouTube to help with the trickier ones.
Schenectady
Tenochtitlan
Betelgeuse

Also offers help on other words and terms that might be difficult:
Haute Couture
Penis
posted by Authorized User at 12:03 PM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the Rochester area, the local shibboleth appears to be "Chili," with both "i" sounds
long.


Thomas J. Wise -- really?? CHIE LIE? That's wonderful.
posted by scratch at 12:03 PM on June 28, 2013


That's wonderful horrifying.
posted by axiom at 12:04 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've intentionally sent out-of-towners to "ca-HOO-en-Ja" avenue here in L.A., as opposed to "ca-HWENG-ga."
(Cahuenga)

As for pronouncing "San Pedro," always defer to d. Boone. (PEE-dro)
posted by ShutterBun at 12:13 PM on June 28, 2013


Colne
Happisburgh
Eau
Blackley
Kesteven
Eyam

Oh England. They look so easy to say, but they belie themselves and set such a trap. Moreso when some of them have two different accepted pronunciations, depending on where you are and who you are. Also a special mention to Kirkcudbright in Scotland, showing such finesse by having each of its three syllables as a stumbling block to the unaware.
posted by Jehan at 12:18 PM on June 28, 2013


I'm never sure how to pronounce Spanish-derived names in San Francisco. Which ones are pronounced correctly and which are bastardized? The general rule seems to be to pronounce them basically correctly (with accomodations for English phonology) except for that "ll" is pronounced as if it were "l".

Huh. Growing up four hours south of SF, we pronounced the double Ls properly (Carillo being CarEE-o, Castillo being CastEE-o), unless you were a tourist, or an old white person who had lived there long enough to know better, but you're too damned stubborn to accept Spanish pronunciations (I love you Grampa, but it's true).

Out here in Nuevo Mexico, we have Madrid, but it's pronounced MAYdrid, 'cause it's different than Spain.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:21 PM on June 28, 2013


Yeah, the hardest for me is foreign names for which you know the "real" pronunciation but aren't sure how it's said locally! When I first moved near Ponce de Leon in Atlanta, I sounded like I was a character in an intro Spanish textbook every time I asked for directions.
posted by threeants at 12:23 PM on June 28, 2013


More L.A.

Cahuenga - cah-WANGa
La Cienega - La cee-EN-egga
Los Feliz - Los FEE-liz (unless you are actually Spanish speaking in which case it is Los Feh-LEEZ)
Tujunga - Tuh-HUNG-a
posted by Sophie1 at 12:24 PM on June 28, 2013


I've heard a story about "Ukraine". The local name is Україна, which is pronounced "oo-kry-in-a" (that's the best I can do without IPA). If you speak Austrian, you would write that as "ukraine" and end up with the same pronunciation. We borrowed the spelling into English, but forgot to borrow the pronunciation, and ended up with "you-crane", our own special name for that country/area.

Also, Massachusetts has a weird, un-official dichotomy between British and Indian names, where British names get shortened but Indian names don't. The state's name would be pronounced "mashets" if we gave it the full British treatment.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:27 PM on June 28, 2013


Appa-LATCH-uh (if you are from Appa-LAY-she-a, no, you aren't.)
posted by maggieb at 12:30 PM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I've intentionally sent out-of-towners to "ca-HOO-en-Ja" avenue here in L.A., as opposed to "ca-HWENG-ga."
(Cahuenga)
"

The "h" is pronounced like the soft w of "Huarache."
posted by klangklangston at 12:30 PM on June 28, 2013


Before I moved to Portland (OR), I was forewarned by a friend that "the river is pronounced Will-AM-ette, dammit!" But nobody prepared me for the fact that Yamhill St. is NOT pronounced "YAM'll". One person actually laughed out loud at me. I still have trouble calling it "yam-hill"; it feels as awkward as saying, for example, "chol-MON-de-lay" instead of "CHUM'ly".

Also, in western NC, a majority of those polled (my friends, by me) said that the New Leicester Highway is pronounced "LEE-ces-ter".
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:32 PM on June 28, 2013


our own special name for that country/area.

Eh, lots of country names are different in different languages. We say Germany instead of Deutschland, Austria instead of Oesterreich, Italy instead of Italia, and so on.
posted by stopgap at 12:32 PM on June 28, 2013


Out here in Nuevo Mexico, we have Madrid, but it's pronounced MAYdrid, 'cause it's different than Spain.

I've only heard it pronounced MAD-rid. Rather than Ma-DRID in Spain.

The empahsis on certain syllables here in New Mexico trip me up. I can't say Cochiti without some one laughing at me and I can't hear the difference.
posted by backwords at 12:41 PM on June 28, 2013


The Portland one to know is Couch Street. It's not pronounced like a sofa, unless you're from Scotland.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 12:43 PM on June 28, 2013



I remember taking the bus in Chicago right around the time they switched from the drivers announcing the stops to an automated voice system. Suddenly "Go-ee-thee" was "Gur-ta;" I'm pretty sure a few people missed their stop that first week.

That's certainly a travesty. I haven't been home to Chicago in a long time. I hope they have not similarly mispronounced Mozart (Mows-art) street.
posted by charlesminus at 12:48 PM on June 28, 2013


knuckle tattoos: The Portland one to know is Couch Street. It's not pronounced like a sofa, unless you're from Scotland.

Yeah, that one startled me the first time I heard the automated announcer say it on the bus. I thought, "Really? They say 'cooch' right out loud on public transit? I'm gonna like it here!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:55 PM on June 28, 2013


I used to live in Webster, MA, home of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. Yes, I can say it. You kind of have to, if you live there. Interestingly, my nemesis while I lived there, once the subject of an AskMe, shared her name with a certain Polish bridge.

I currently live in a town famous for murderous NFL players. It is easy to pronounce and has no strange street names. But it does have a Draper Ave, right across from the Applebee's. It is a handsome street, so suave, and so drunk.
posted by Biblio at 12:57 PM on June 28, 2013


> When staying in Borough, my fiancée and I decided that it was pronounced "burr-OOH". Or maybe "BURR-uff".
> posted by madcaptenor at 6:54 PM on June 28 [+] [!]


Londoner for ten years here, and I can't imagine what you heard to get "burr-OOH". Without knowing the phonetic dodahs for writing out sounds, the closest I can get is BU-ruh. But who am I to feel superior? I still have brain farts and forget how to pronounce Grosvenor Square, High Holborn and Greenwich.

(My secret is that when I was in the US for a couple of weeks, I grew to love the grid system of streets and mix of numbers and names. Americans visiting London must be driven insane by the wriggly streets and unpronounceable names. I wish I could say to a friend "Meet me at the corner of 14th and Market". Often in London it's more like "See you at Marble Arch tube. Entrance 6? No, I think it's 5, the one next to the Arch itself...or is it the Oxford St entrance over the road? Sod it, just meet me at the pub.")
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 12:57 PM on June 28, 2013


Londoner for ten years here, and I can't imagine what you heard to get "burr-OOH".

It was a joke. We decided that since everything in London was pronounced in confusing ways, we'd make it even worse for ourselves.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:00 PM on June 28, 2013


Do any San Franciscans here want to enlighten me on "Gough"? Is it Go? Goo? Gow? Goff?
posted by wanderingmind at 1:40 PM on June 28, 2013


Kinnickinnic
posted by drezdn at 1:45 PM on June 28, 2013


Buffalo has the Scajaquada, which is pronounced just how it looks. Though it's a delight to watch newcomers figure that out.

ska-jack-wuh-da
posted by troika at 1:49 PM on June 28, 2013


Los Feliz - Los FEE-liz (unless you are actually Spanish speaking in which case it is Los Feh-LEEZ)

Actual Spanish speaker: "¿Por qué no se llama felices?"

posted by psoas at 1:54 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


wanderingmind: Goff.
posted by trip and a half at 1:57 PM on June 28, 2013


In Halifax, one of the main drags is Gottingen Street. There are a good half-dozen local pronunciations, and not one is even close to the source German. GOD-i-jin is the most common. (That's still not enough to make anyone think the way Mainers pronounce Calais might be okay, though.)

Toronto: Spadina.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:00 PM on June 28, 2013


Havre, Montana-- HAV er, as in 'you can have 'er'
Helena--HELL-len-ah (NOT hel-LEEN-a)

actually other Montana towns are rather strange, although I can't think of any more.

Puyallup, WA--"PEW-lup"
Sequim, WA--"Skwim"



'Round these parts (I DEE ho or I da ho) if you pronounce Kuna as QUE na you're not from around here. It should be coo NA, and they'll snicker at you otherwise.

Moss-COW is how folks say Moscow, in N. Idaho.

St. Anthony--suhnatanee.
Dubois--dew BOYZ
Kooskia--KOO-skee
Kootenai-- KOOT'n-ee
Michaud--mish-ODD
Owyhee oh-WYE-hee
Kamiah--KAM-ee-eye
Perinne--Perne
Ririe--RYE-ree
Shoshone--sho-SHO-nee or sho-SHONE?? You hear both in the same town.
Takabe--TACK-a-bee
Weippe WEE-ipe
Weiser WEE-zer
Weippe--WEE-ipe--rhymes with "skype

And then there's the everlasting question: Boise--BOYCE-ee or boys-ee?

Which just goes to show...something.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:03 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Java Street (Greenpoint, Brooklyn) -- JAVV-uh
(with a "flat a" as in "have"; at least according to the nice old ladies at Church of the Ascension).
posted by gubo at 2:05 PM on June 28, 2013


I sometimes feel like my wife and I are among the few people in the state of Florida who don't pronounce it "FLAW-riddə" (think Brooklyn accent) or "FLORdə" (think Southern US accent).

BTW, we pronounce it "FLOR-ih-də".
posted by grubi at 2:14 PM on June 28, 2013


Schuylkill is pronounced SKOO-kill.

Or even Skookle (kind of rhymes with google).

It's a little weird knowing how to pronounce Welsh, and then seeing all the Welsh place names outside Philly (Merion, Brynmawr, etc.), some of which are pretty much the same, and others of which are mangled.

And it's EDD-in-bruh. Not Eden-burg. And MAN-ches-tuh, not MAAN-chester. I could go on ...
posted by carter at 2:22 PM on June 28, 2013


I could use one of these for New Zealand!
posted by aabbbiee at 2:28 PM on June 28, 2013


And it's EDD-in-bruh. Not Eden-burg.

Pittsburgh was named by a Scot. It's possible that it was intended to be pronounced Pitts-bruh.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:29 PM on June 28, 2013


It's possible that it was intended to be pronounced Pitts-bruh.

Being the American Anglophile/Scotophile that I am, I have to pronounce it like that now.

Which means I *really* went to high school in Lynchbruh, Ten'see.
posted by grubi at 2:31 PM on June 28, 2013


Now I am in Toronto, where Roncesvalles Avenue is pronounced RONSE-iss-vales. Jesus wept.

Roncesvalles is a Polish neighbourhood; Roncesvalles is not a Polish name. If it were Wojciech Avenue, we'd probably be saying it right. And for what it's worth, the Basque village Roncesvalles Avenue's named after can be pronounced a bunch of different ways depending on one's allegiance.

How to pronounce Toronto street names. Unfortunately it doesn't cover Bloor.


It's like Coor's, not like floor or door. Here's a picture of the man. Honour him!
posted by Sys Rq at 2:33 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


And MAN-ches-tuh, not MAAN-chester.

Isn't that just a matter of accent, though? They must say it wrong in the West Country, right? It's like how Australians are all like "It's pronounced 'Cans,'" and I'm like, no, actually, there's an R in Cairns and I pronounce those, but thanks anyway.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:37 PM on June 28, 2013


Here's a question I need an answer to: how do you pronounce the name of Edinburgh Castle? (Not the one in Scotland, the one in San Francisco.) This is important because The Girl and I met there.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:38 PM on June 28, 2013


I love "Schermerhorn" in Brooklyn, because there isn't really a consensus, even among locals. "Skimmer-horn" is definitely the most favored, but "Skermer-horn" is pretty popular too, and "Shermer-horn" isn't unknown.
posted by neroli at 2:49 PM on June 28, 2013


And MAN-ches-tuh, not MAAN-chester.

Yikes got that wrong. That should be: It's MAN-ches-tuh, not Man-CHEST-er (accent on the first, and not on the second syllable).

I think I'll quit now ...
posted by carter at 2:50 PM on June 28, 2013


Ha. Years ago I had this very argument with a friend, re: SF's Edinburgh Castle. I await the verdict!
posted by iamkimiam at 2:50 PM on June 28, 2013


Here's yet another take on Kosciuszko, who actually has two bridges named for him in the state of New York, as well as various other things, including a mountain in Australia, itself the subject of a song.

Relatedly: how locations with Dutch-derived names in New York's Capital District would be pronounced in Dutch, which is often different from how they are pronounced by locals.
posted by beryllium at 3:31 PM on June 28, 2013


There's a reason most of L.A.'s most 'predominantly Hispanic' areas have the most Anglo names, but I don't want to talk about it.

Anyway, I was long ago told that the pronunciation of Van Nuys came from a very appreciative Jew ("Vannice!") who though Venice wasn't so much.

And the most awkward thing about moving from L.A. to San Luis Obispo was converting from Figueroa (FIH-ger-o-a) to Higuera (HIE-ger-a, no o).

And why hasn't any Angelino (pronounced like Brangelina, which is why we don't call ourselves that anymore) hasn't linked this musical rundown of place names.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:09 PM on June 28, 2013


(ctrl-F Rodeo Dr)
Phrase not found

posted by kagredon at 4:12 PM on June 28, 2013


Havre, Montana-- HAV er, as in 'you can have 'er'

Yes! That's where Amtrak wanted to send me when I was buying a ticket over the phone voice-automated reservation system when I told it I wanted to go to Haverhill (MA) pronounced Hay-vrill. I ended up having to enunciate Hav. Her. Hill.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:35 PM on June 28, 2013


In Illinois, we have Cairo (CAY-roe), Athens (AY-thuns), and New Berlin (noo BURR-lin).

Don't forget that town next to LaSalle named after the country in South America -- PAY-rew.
posted by harkin banks at 4:54 PM on June 28, 2013


> Whatever, man. Last time this came up languagehat told me that you pronounce a place name however the hell you want to and fuck the local opinion.
posted by jacalata


Wow, jacalata is someone who really knows how to hold a grudge. I invite any interested parties to read the earlier thread and decide for themselves which of us was being stubbornly wrong and aggressively mischaracterizing the other's position (as in the above quote).
posted by languagehat at 5:15 PM on June 28, 2013


jeez, I knew people in real life got het up about this, so I'm not sure why i didn't expect it to become SRSBZNS on MeFi, but I'm still a bit surprised.
posted by kagredon at 5:17 PM on June 28, 2013


wanderingmind: "Do any San Franciscans here want to enlighten me on "Gough"? Is it Go? Goo? Gow? Goff?"

Don't listen to trip and a half, he's just making fun of you. You pronounce Gough like:

GoooOOOoooOOooooOoOoO-URGH-RGH-RGH.

The first part is tricky because you have to alternate your stressing; imagine that you are a ghost and you are trying to haunt the shit out of someone. The ending is a lot simpler, just pretend you are choking on a boiled sweet and trying to get it out before it is too late.
posted by danny the boy at 5:53 PM on June 28, 2013


harkin banks: "Don't forget that town next to LaSalle named after the country in South America -- PAY-rew."

Who pronounces it like that? I live 45 minutes from there and have relatives there and go there weekly, and I have never heard anyone pronounce it in any way other than like the country.

Don't get me started on Bourbonnais though.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:55 PM on June 28, 2013


Now I am in Toronto, where Roncesvalles Avenue is pronounced RONSE-iss-vales. Jesus wept.

Just say "Roncy" like everyone else does.


Funny story- when I lived in Chicago, I once told a visiting professor from Russia that I was originally from Toronto. He was very confused, thinking that I was from the capital of Albania, and wondering about my accent.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:00 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Sacramento, Goethe Park is pronounced "GAY-tee".

Or it was, until they changed the name to River Bend Park because Charles Goethe was a racist dickbag.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:10 PM on June 28, 2013


Out here in Nuevo Mexico, we have Madrid, but it's pronounced MAYdrid, 'cause it's different than Spain.
I've only heard it pronounced MAD-rid. Rather than Ma-DRID in Spain.

Yeah, I've only heard MAD-rid.

Generally, in central and northern New Mexico, even in Albuquerque where anglophones have long been the majority, pronunciations of place names by anglophones are fairly close to the spanish. (There's some notable exceptions, like Rio Grande, which has always puzzled me.)

Madrid is exceptional, though. To my ears, MAD-rid is an egregious anglicization, really ugly sounding, and for many years when I was young (early eighties), I refused the pronounce it that way.

Later, though, I learned about its history and I changed my mind. Madrid was a company mining town that became completely, or almost completely, abandoned after WWII. It was only resettled by squatters during the 60s, I think there might have been a commune there, and generally these were all people from out-of-state. They pronounced it MAD-rid.

My rule — and I, too, recall arguing with languagehat here about this long, long ago — is that the pronunciation of a placename by its residents is definitive. So I long ago acquiesced to MAD-rid, though I'm not that happy about it.

However, a big issue for me is anglophone cultural imperialism in areas with many resident hispanophones. I'm relatively okay with MAD-rid because it was resettled by other people who made it their own and pronounced it their own way, as opposed to overriding a resident hispanophone pronunciation.

But other anglicizations of spanish place names throughout the southwest bother me, especially in Texas, insofar as they're relatively strong anglicizations even though there's a huge number of resident hispanics who don't use that pronunciation. And sometimes even when they do, because I don't think that was something the native hispanic population did without considerable external cultural pressure.

Sometimes it's not that much of an anglicization, but I can't bring myself to accept it because I just hate the way it sounds. I lived in Austin for eight years but I refused to say GWAD-a-loop. Well, it's also about the cultural issues, too. I despise anglophone Texas's relationship with hispanic culture and some pronunciations just push my buttons, I can't help but hear racism in them.

"The emphasis on certain syllables here in New Mexico trip me up. I can't say Cochiti without some one laughing at me and I can't hear the difference."

Cochiti is an example of a pronunciation that deviates from the spanish more than you might expect for New Mexico, but then it's also a spanish representation of the native name, so that may play a role.

But phonemes aside, if you don't know any spanish or aren't familiar with spanish pronunciation, then stress is going to give you some trouble. I don't really know spanish (just what I've picked up here and there as an anglophone native New Mexican), but I don't really think about stress with spanish words until I hear an anglophone get it wrong.

"Worcester: WOUster ('wou' as in 'would')
Gloucester: GLOSSter"


...and the like. I've never been to New England, not to mention England, but I find it a bit surprising that people aren't aware (and I'm assuming this is even true of some people in MA?) that these reflect the English pronunciations. I recall a conversation with a close friend and I asked him whether he'd noticed this in Shakespeare. He hadn't. Which was weird. But, yeah, that's not some quirky Massachusetts thing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:21 PM on June 28, 2013


There's a street in Pacific Beach they insist on pronouncing "GarNET."
posted by moira at 7:01 PM on June 28, 2013


People get VERY emotional and rather confused about SpaDYEna / SpaDEEna in Toronto, and there's a shitload of competing theories about why and when the name is pronounced one way or another.

1. The original property that gave the name to the street name was pronounced SpaDEEna, but the automated message for Spadina House pronounces the street name SpaDYEna.

2. The TTC's automated public address system called the stop SpaDEEna until recently because they couldn't make the software pronounce it SpaDYEna, no matter what they tried. (I can't remember what the system said the last time I passed that station. Does anyone know?)

3. One common story (which I've repeated myself) is that the the pronunciation varies north versus south of Bloor: Spadina Road in the north is SpaDEEna, Spadina Avenue in the south is SpaDYEna. This may be more of a rationalization of what used to be a class marker than any codified rule, however.

And nobody has ever come up with a good reason for the k in "Etobicoke" being silent. Not even Rob Ford. Especially Rob Ford.
posted by maudlin at 8:10 PM on June 28, 2013


Ah yes, St. Louis place names.

Lindell = LIN-dull
DeBaliviere = duh-BAHL-uh-ver
Grand Boulevard = Grand Avenue
Spoede = SPAY-dee
Creve Coeur = creev cohr
Bellefontaine = BELL-fountain
Florissant = FLOR-uh-sunt
Prairie du Rocher = Prairie doo RO-sher
Derhake = DUR-hay-kee
New Halls Ferry Road = Halse (like false) Ferry
posted by limeonaire at 8:55 PM on June 28, 2013


After thirty years in Chicago, though I can say de-VON, I still can't quite forgive them for it (glen_COE always rubs me up the wrong way too).

I remember taking the bus in Chicago right around the time they switched from the drivers announcing the stops to an automated voice system. Suddenly "Go-ee-thee" was "Gur-ta;"

Back in the days that I used to ride the 151 (oh, Happy Bus, where are you now?) both pronunciations were usual, depending on the driver, it didm't seem to phase anybody but the tourists.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:19 PM on June 28, 2013


No mentions of South San Francisco yet? For shame, MetaFilter, for shame.

Powell St. = POWL (rhymes with howl)
Taraval St. = TARE-uh-vall (rhymes with shall)
Ulloa St. = you-LOW-uh
Kearny St. = KERN-ee (KARN-ee if you're old school)
Geary Blvd. = GEER-ee
Clement St. = cluh-MENT
Quintara St. = KIN-tar-uh (sometimes KWIN-tar-uh)
Duboce St. = dew-BOSE or duh-BOSE (rhymes with dose)
Kezar = KEY-zar
Presidio = pruh-SID-ee-oh
Yerba Buena = YER-buh BOY-nuh
San Francisco = SAN fran-SIS-co (the second syllable is sometimes fren or frin but it's barely noticeable)
Oakland = OKE-lind or OKE-lend
Berkeley = BERK-lee (never three syllables)
Emeryville = EM-ree-vill (never four syllables)
Chabot = sha-BO
MacArthur Blvd. = muh-CAR-thur
San Pablo (Blvd.) = san PAB-low (rhymes with man cab low)
Hillegas Ave. = HILL-giss
Lafayette = LAH-fee-yet
Albany = No one knows
Piedmont (Ave.) = PEED-mont
International Blvd. is still often called East 14th St.
posted by clorox at 11:37 PM on June 28, 2013


Also: Concord sounds like conquered, not concorde.
posted by clorox at 11:48 PM on June 28, 2013


I work in a place called Iwerne. Pronounced you-un. So even native britishers get tripped up on that one - my first attempt was I-earnie. If it was in London, it'd be 'unnhh' by now.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:56 AM on June 29, 2013


I was watching an American tv show a few weeks ago and someone pronounced Edinburgh 'ed-in-bur-OH.'
posted by toerinishuman at 3:32 AM on June 29, 2013


I was watching an American tv show a few weeks ago and someone pronounced Edinburgh 'ed-in-bur-OH.'
posted by toerinishuman at 11:32 AM on June 29


See also: Glasgow and Moscow with the final syllable pronounced to rhyme with "cow".
posted by Decani at 5:06 AM on June 29, 2013


2. The TTC's automated public address system called the stop SpaDEEna until recently because they couldn't make the software pronounce it SpaDYEna, no matter what they tried. (I can't remember what the system said the last time I passed that station. Does anyone know?)

It does the other one now.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:44 AM on June 29, 2013


Ah yes, St. Louis place names.

Don't forget:

US Interstate 64 = HI-WAY FOUR-tee.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:54 AM on June 29, 2013


No, it's HI-way Farty.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:42 AM on June 29, 2013


Which is near HI-way Farty-Far.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:43 AM on June 29, 2013


No mentions of South San Francisco yet?

None of the pronunciations you listed are surprising to me, as someone who's never been there. Not quite shibboleth territory.
posted by stopgap at 9:09 AM on June 29, 2013


None of the pronunciations you listed are surprising to me, as someone who's never been there.

Some of the pronunciations he listed are surprising to me, as someone who lived there. They're just wrong.

Clement St. = cluh-MENT

Presidio = pruh-SID-ee-oh


I have never heard these pronunciations. Apparently he hangs around solely with people who have a speech impediment who cannot distinguish between "uh" and "eh."
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:10 PM on June 29, 2013


charlie don't surf: Well I'm no linguist, so I may be interpreting some vowel sounds incorrectly and I posted based on memory alone. But, to me, the difference between "cleh-MENT" and "cluh-MENT" is very small, and I think I hear the latter more often. It's also highly likely that I have a lazy tongue that mushes words to make them as simple to pronounce as possible.

stopgap: When I worked in SF I dealt mostly with tourists from all over. I regularly heard seemingly easy to pronounce names butchered horribly.
posted by clorox at 11:29 PM on June 29, 2013


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