Of course, I can forgive people not being able to get my name right away. After all, my last name is unique to a family originally from the coastal town of Hammam-Sousse, Tunisia. But when it comes to names that we, as Americans, should all know how to pronounce correctly, I get very picky. I know I'm not the only one. On January 18, 2008, Michelle Obama's mispronounciation of Nevada elicited some dismayed reactions from her audience. To her credit, Ms. Obama immediately and fervently corrected her pronounciation.
It may sound elitist to criticize the pronounciation of certain words, but it is extremely difficult to take someone seriously when that person pronounces the word nuclear as "noo-kyuh-luhr." Or when "jaguar" is pronounced "jag-wire." "Birff-day," "ex-scape," and nowadays, "eye-rack" for "Iraq" are other examples.
But why bother? You might wonder who cares about the difference between saying "neh-VAAH-duh" (incorrect) or "nuh-VAD-uh" (correct)? Well, for starters, Nevadans do. Learning how to pronounce names as they should be pronounced shows a degree of consideration to others. Not bothering to care about what may seem small to one person is the antithesis to equivocation. In the end, it's about caring and respect.
Here are some places that I've learned how to pronounce correctly:
- Helena, Montana. It's HEL-luh-nuh, not huh-LAY-nuh. I actually called the city to confirm. Coincidentally, it's the way my daughter's name should be pronounced.
- Worcester or Gloucester, Massachusetts: It's "wuss-ster" or "gloss-ster." Think of the "worce-" or "glouce-" as one syllable. Ironically, citizens of those cities can't pronounce "Harvard" correctly.
- Concord, New Hampshire. Pronounced exactly like "conquered."
Any other names or things you wish people would pronounce correctly?