City Names

Mike Salovesh salovesh at NIU.EDU
Mon Dec 6 17:22:29 UTC 1999

Three comments on one message from Dennis.

"Dennis R. Preston" wrote:
> Although she is proud of her Sicilian heritage, my wife (the former Carol
> Guagliardo) finds some comfort in not hearing the disasters of her name now
> that she is a Preston.
> She reports some modifications that even suggested that speakers looked no
> further than the first two or three letters.

My father used to keep a collection of the disasters wreaked upon our
family name.  His favorite was being paged as "Mr. Salkabainovitch".

> >I believe our dear Brett Favre was born and raised in Mississippi and
> >brought his unusual pronunciation with him. Certainly, Green Bay residents
> >stumbled over the pronunciation in the early days, just as other people
> >still do.

We hve no trouble with the PROPER pronunciation of that name here.  The
Favre family, prominent residents of De Kalb, Illinois, claim that the
only correct way to say it is as a homonym for "favor".

Finally, I'm embarassed that Dennis forwarded the following, even if I
did write it myself.

> >>>>Canada's policy of bilingualism is all very well, but it just doesn't
> >>>>reach far enough to handle U.S. place names with French antecedents.
> >>>[...]
> >>>>So maybe you think you're being a "dumb Canuck", but whoever the dumbest
> >>>>Canuck may be, in all of Canada there's nobody dumb enough to beat an
> >>>>ordinary Midwesterner when it comes to fancy mispronunciations.

So far, I've received only one mild flame in response, but I surely
deserved more.

Speaking as an ordinary Midwesterner myself, I certainly didn't mean to
imply that we are too stupid to pronounce French place names properly.
In fact, our fancy pronunciations are absolutely correct -- here.  They
simply have no necessary connection with the French names and words that
were their original source.

I'd even bet that if Pere Marquette had been reborn in the heyday of the
old railroad line whose name was a tribute to him, he, too, would
acknowledge that the railroad "Pere" is a homonym of "pier", NOT
"pair".  It's not supposed to duplicate the good father's pronunciation
of his own title and name.

The only excuse I can offer is that I had a terrible toothache when I
wrote that; it took a visit to a dental surgeon to get rid of the
broken tooth that  caused it.  The pain is receding, finally; I hope the
same can be said for any pain I may have caused fellow Midwesterners
with my awkward statement.

-- mike salovesh      <salovesh at>         PEACE !!!

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