Regional pronunciations the locals really care about

I lived in Portland, Oregon for about 35 years and one of the eccentricities of the locals is that they can get almost apoplectic about what they view as incorrect pronunciations. 

The first thing you learn about Oregon—probably even before you move there—is that the correct pronunciation of "Oregon" does NOT rhyme with "hexagon." There seems to be a range of good pronunciations, but what they all have in common is that the final syllable is not pronounced like the final syllable of "hexagon." A lot of Oregonians will say it's pronounced or-y-gun, but many Oregonians will just kind of swallow the final vowel in a pronunciation that goes something like OR-uh-gn.

If you move to Portland, the river that runs through it is the Willamette River. Obviously a French word originally, do NOT give it a French pronunciation. No. It's pronounced will-am-it.

Portland street names can be baffling, too. Couch Street is pronouonced "cooch," and Glisan Street is pronounced exactly like the last name of Jackie Gleason. 

In terms of pronunciation, living in Portland, Oregon was a bit like living in an alternative universe.

What makes Oregonians, and Portlanders in particular, so fussy is hard to say. After all, Texans don't correct people when they don't pronounce "Texas" like a Texan. But there are other places where you can be corrected for not a name like the locals. When in New Orleans, Louisiana, you will soon learn to pronounce the combination nawlins, loosiana.

Are there any regional pronunciations that the locals are sensitive about in your area, or in some area you know about? (Let's limit this to English-speaking areas, please.)

Tags: pronunciations, regional

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Torontonians can get uppity about how others pronounce 'Toronto', often not realizing that the pronunciations they hate most probably originated in Toronto.

  • Toh-ron-toh 
  • T'-rah-nuh
  • Ta-rah-na
  • Tuh-ron-toh
  • Tuh-ronnuh
  • Tron-toh

Some Americans suffer a delusion that there is a prominent 'w' in words like 'about'. I don't think Canadians point this oWt to Americans very often (perhaps because we hear it on television so often), but it's kind of a joke how often Americans point it out to us. Sometimes you even get an emphatic slowed down version which sounds like a tape cassette dying in the machine: aaaaaah- bowwwwwwwwwwwww - t'h.


Aboot time to get a beer, ya hoser.

My town, Contoocook, is pronounced Con-TU-cook as opposed to the still-technically-correct Con-TOO-cook.  However, many say Cun-TU-kit.  There is even a very rude joke about a Native American woman making off with her husband's canoe.  The joke incorporates the Contoocook River, which runs through the town.

Another town, Boscawen, should be pronounced BOS-ca-wen but the locals say bos-ca-WINE.  I have no idea why they do this

The area I live in was called Fucktaloosa by the Creek nations, but the locals pronounce it low-cha-poka.

I'm reminded that during the Vietnam war there would be some action near a town with a name something like Phuc To and it was hilarious to see the news readers dance around pronouncing the name.

There is Phuket, in Thailand, pronounced Poo-ket...

Now, I knew a guy who lived there and pronounced it Foo-ket.

According to its tourism page its p-h-ooket, not really an F or a P.  they show it with a tiny little 'h' - oh what am I talking about, let me get a screenshot!

@Doug - that's a spectacular re-pronunciation!  Not even an anagram!  Do they still spell it Fucktaloosa, because if they do, it will make my day :)

I wish!

In Australia, the east coast was settled by convicts, while South Australia (the state) was settle by settlers. This leads to a difference in the way we pronounce things like graph, dance, etc. The eastern states use the more uncivilised pronunciation  gr-aff, d-ance. While South Australia uses a more high-society english pronunciation, gra-ff, da-nce.


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