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.)

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I live in the San Francisco Bay Area in the middle of Silicon Valley. I cringe every time I hear someone refer to this area as the Silicone Valley.

True. The San Fernando Valley would probably better qualify for that designation.

Atlanta's got a few. If you pronounce the street "Ponce De Leon" properly, locals will correct you to say it 'Ponce De Lee-on!'

Actually, Ponce's name has an interesting history. King Ferdinand of Spain was not the brightest bulb on the tree, as one may discern:

Michel Sittow 004.jpg

But he also had a handicap, he spoke with a lisp. In order that he not feel offended, members of his court began speaking with a lisp as well, and the practice ultimately spread throughout the language. Ponce's name would have been pronounced, "Ponth de Lay-own," though I doubt that's how Atlantans pronounce it.

Arkansas reserves the right to fine you $25 if they catch you saying "Ar-Kansas" or "Arkan-Sas". It's pronounced "Arkansaw"

Back in Mississippi, the locals leave out one "iss", so it's Missippi.

I have no idea why the sports team the Celtics pronounced it as Seltics. Celtic is pronounced Keltic.

Arkansas reserves the right to fine you $25 if they catch you saying "Ar-Kansas" or "Arkan-Sas". It's pronounced "Arkansaw"

Whereas Kansas insists on calling the "Arkansas river " the "Are-KANzas" river.

They can argue about that all they like.  I just take a certain smug satisfaction in the fact that both parties to the argument are downstream from me.


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