Glynn Moore

News editor and local columnist for The Augusta Chronicle.

It's a wonder we still have a union because the states are hard to say

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We were driving and listening to the radio, and a commentator was mentioning someone who was from Oregon. The first time she said it, she said OreGONN, and the second time, ORRegun.

That made me realize that I have no idea how the people in that state prefer to refer to it out loud.

If you’re from there, drop me a message. I’d love to know in case I ever say Oregon again.

The same would go for Missouri, I would think. Do the natives grow restless if they hear Missouree and not Missoura, or vice versa? I’ve heard both, and so I still don’t know if one is more accepted. I know how it’s spelled, though, so the smart money would be on Missouree.

My wife is from Louisiana, which has as many pronunciations as it does crawfish. LooWEESeana and LEWSeeANA are the ones I hear most, not counting the shortcut-sounding LEWSeeANN, which might be aided by the coffee and tea company.

A lot of states are like that, aren’t they?

If you are from Arkansas, did you ever hear a neighbor say arr-Kansas, sounding like the nearby state of Kansas?

Did you visit relatives in Colorado or Coloradah? For that matter, NeVAHduh or NeVADuh? Illinois, or Illinoy? Hawaii or Hawaya or HaVA-ee?

I’ve heard people talk about Ioway. Some people slur their home state as Missippi, with some of the crooked letters missing. I admit that I’ve probably said Florda more often than I’ve pronounced all the letters in Florida.

As for Connecticut and Massachusetts, I pity the poor immigrant who tries to pronounce those states the way they are spelled.

I supposed we would have to drive all the way to the far northeast corner of the nation to live in a place that has no danger of being said the wrong way: Maine. So far as I know, anyway.

When I was in college, some friends and I went to see the original Jaws. We were bowled over, so we tried to outdo each other with a Jaws theme. I won when I went to a sports shop and had T-shirts made up with JAWGIA printed across them. That was before you started seeing that spelling on menus and the like but long after residents of our state started pronouncing Georgia.

Towns are often the same way. My hometown has three syllables, but natives often shorten it to two. My baby brother, who now lives in New Mexico, laughs every time I tell him about our local community known as Martinez.

“Mar-TEE-nez,” he will correct me.

“No, Martin-EZ,” I will correct him.

“But the right way to say it is Mar-TEE-nez.”

“And the right way to say Paris is Pair-ee,” I say, “but you don’t find many people in this country bothering to pronounce it that way.”

Geography never gets easy, kids.


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