Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My weird home state

Ohio must be a weird place for travelers.

First of all, any state with counties named Hocking and Licking have to be a little strange.

But it's also full of cities and towns whose names are taken from various Native American cultures, which are somtimes rendered in more than one way in different places. So Pickaway county has the same origin as a town called Piqua in another part of the state. Cuyahoga has the same root as Cayuga. And Miami in one place is Maumee in another.

There are plenty of tongue twisters in there too: Tuscarawas, Pymatuning, Olentangy, Chillicothe, and my favorite - this one's actually of German origin - Gnadenhutten... inexplicably pronounced "ji NAY dun huh tehn."

But weird pronunciations are pretty common, even for easy looking names. Here's a list of towns and cities named after other more famous places, with their Ohio-ized pronunciations:

Medina = meh DIE nuh
Newark = NERK
Lima = LIE muh
Canton = CANT en
Vienna = vee EH nuh
Bellfontaine = behl FOWN tuhn
Houston = HOUSE tuhn
Louisville = LEW us vihl
Delhi = DELL hi
Berlin = BUR lynn
Milan = MEE lan
Versailles = ver SALES
Lancaster = LANK stir
Cairo = CARE oh
Carthagena = CAR thuh GEE nuh
New Athens = NEW AY thinz

and my favorite:

Russia = ROO she

What does all this have to do with anything?

Well, nothing really.




At 6/23/2009 9:20 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

I think all places have their unique way of saying the place names. I mean how in the heck does one get "woo ster" out of Worchester or "lester" out of Leicester or "haiv rull" out of Haverhill?

Here there's a "callous" (spelled Calais). And I'll never be able to properly pronounce "Madawaska." My poor tongue was ill-taught for pronouncing some of the town names in the part of the country where I now live.

But I hope my neighbors will forgive me. My mother was raised in New Vienna and I was born in Wilmington and for most of my life my grandma lived in Washington Courthouse ... all in Ohio ;).

At 6/24/2009 7:35 AM, Blogger e4 said...

Yeah, it's true. Just about everyplace has it's weirdness.

At 6/24/2009 7:57 AM, Blogger anna banana said...

After spending my formative years in Ashtabula County, when my sister moved to Athens and I moved to Columbus, we puzzled over the local pronunciation of Newark and Lancaster with lots of giggling. We decided they are supposed to be pronounced as close to one syllable as possible, and your phoenetic spelling of them brought this idea home. Thanks :) Sometimes I miss Ohio.

At 6/24/2009 8:43 AM, OpenID helwen said...

Hi Edson,

I used to be on the Riot email list but I couldn't keep up with it and get anything done at home. Still comment now and again at Sharon's though. Thanks for sharing some of the local names and pronunciation -- all part of becoming part of a community, yes? :)

Wendy, I live in MA too. One of my least favorites: Billerica, pronounced "Bill-RICK-uh". "Bil-LAIR-ih-kah", the proper Latin pronunciation, sounds so much nicer, sigh. Oh well. At least I don't live there... And I suppose since we don't live in Italy, Bill-RICK-uh's just fine :D

Heather G

At 6/28/2009 6:33 PM, Blogger Gina said...

LOL, I live just over the border in Indiana-husband works over in OH. The other day a co-worker of mine over in Ohio told us (a couple of us in Indiana) that we were pronouncing one of our counties wrong!! The funnything is we aren't pronouncing it wrong (we grew up near this county), the sound has just been changed by the Hoosier tongue!


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