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Nevadans Insist There’s Nothing “Odd” About Their Name

By Dave Fox
Seattle, Washington

[This post originally appeared on my Wordsplash blog in 2008.]

Nevada State FlagThe Super Tuesday primaries are just about over… and I promised recently not to get political on this blog, unless language or linguistics are involved. But I need to rewind to a caucus in another state that happened a couple of weeks ago. (Yes, this is old news now. I’m behind in my blogging due to an incredibly busy work schedule and a recent foot injury.)

The Associated Press reports Nevadans were on the rampage recently after news anchors were mispronouncing their state’s name. NBC received a flurry of irate calls and e-mails after news anchor Brian Williams botched the pronunciation of “Nevada” on the NBC Nightly News. The AP also reported that ABC commentator George Stephanopoulos was booed last year when he mispronounced the state’s name during a presidential candidates’ forum last year. And both George W. Bush and John Kerry were scolded for getting it wrong in the 2004 elections.

The correct pronunciation, Nevadans say, is “nuh-VADD-uh,” not “nuh-VAH-duh.” (In other words, the middle syllable rhymes with “add,” not “odd.”)

Nevada state archivist Guy Rocha is not taking this lightly, according to the AP. Rocha is complaining that people who mispronounce his state’s name are showing inadvertent disrespect.

Really?

I wonder how Mr. Rocha would pronounce Melbourne, Bath, Hawaii, Spokane, Missouri, New Orleans, or even Baltimore. And don’t get me started on Copenhagen or Kiribati… or Paris, Oslo, Munich, Japan, or Moscow.

When Al Gore came to Madison, Wisconsin, where I was living during the 1992 presidential campaign, he repeatedly pronounced it “WEH-SCONN-sun.” His gaffe made the evening news on local television.

I like Nevadans. They’re friendly people. And, for the record, I’ve always used the correct pronunciation of their state. But lighten up, people! We’re a nation of many dialects. Nobody’s trying to malign you. I still think “neh-VAH-duh” is far less offensive than “nucular.”

[Check back Friday morning for the correct’ish pronunciation of the above place names.]

Comments from the original blog:

If someone repeatedly said your name wrong you would correct them. Anywhere I have been if I said the name of the town/city/state wrong I was corrected and I never said it wrong again. That shows RESPECT. It isn’t the way I want it, it’s the way the NATIVES say it is. YOU are no better than anyone else. You can show respect and making fun of respect shows how little you care. Hawai’i that means you pause between the i’s. And we in Nevada do care and we are tired of people saying it WRONG. And you owe Guy an apology, God only knows how you slaughter his last name!

Posted by: Linda in NEVADA | February 14, 2008 at 05:47 AM

Published on Wednesday, February 6, 2008

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