Lots of us live in communities or on streets where the “correct” pronunciation becomes a public debate and it separates newcomers from old-timers.
A doctoral student from North Carolina State University, Joshua Katz, just released a slew of maps showing the many pronunciation varieties from east to west and north to south.
Thanks to Hudson Valley Magazine that tweeted the entry and got us thinking about the topic.
Here are some local pronunciation debates we found:
Take Po-can-ti-co, a hamlet in Sleepy Hollow. Some people make it come out as Po-can-tico. The burb also boasts that it is the location of the Rockefeller’s Kykuit estate, as in Ki-kut, a Dutch name which confuses even natives.
And then there are questions about Valhalla. Is it three distinct syllables with a clear ‘l’ in the first one or is it slushed together more like ‘Vahala’? And some people make New Rochelle basically one word with barely a pause.
In Putnam County, there is a longtime discussion about Ma-HO-pac or is it Ma-o-pac. It all depends on whether you have been there for generations and refer to the Native American pronunciation or the more modern version. And don’t even try to pronounce the town of Carmel as Car-MEL as in the California community where Clint Eastwood was once the mayor. In Putnam it is CAR-mel, with slight emphasis on the first paragraph.
And then, is it is Ta-pan or Tap-pan in Rockland County?
And then there are lots of pronunciation questions about things and we are back to Katz’s research.
It’s pop in the Midwest, but soda in New York.
And New York is The City around here, but in Chicago, Boston or Los Angeles you’d better say NYC to be fully understood.
And then there is the question of how to say crayon – remember that the Peekskill Chemical Company, a precursor to Binney and Smith, opened in 1864 by Joseph Binney. In New York it is two syllables as in cray-on, but go further west to Nevada or Colorado it is cray-awn.