Folk Awareness oif Dialect

David M. Robertson dmsnake at USIT.NET
Tue Dec 5 03:02:11 UTC 2000

Drew Danielson wrote:

> Virginia also has a Buena /bjuna/ Vista, the pronunciation of which is
> probably a nativism due to the fact that people have been calling it by
> that pronunciation for about 120 years.  Ironically, there's a city
> called Staunton not too far up the road from Buena Vista, but they
> pronounce that name /stan t'n/ as in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, rather than
> /stahn t'n/ as one would expect based on the spelling.  Maybe
> Appalachian Virginians have some confusion over the phonetic value of
> the letter U... :)

Well, I don't think the "u" in Buena Vista has any relationship to the "u" in

In Virginia we say "my ahnt lives in Stanton," while a typical yankee would say "my
ant lives in Stahnton." Nobody is consistent, except maybe in Boston.

Moving right along to "incorrect" pronunciation of place names derived from other
languages, I have always found this a fascinating subject, and not just confined to
those of us who were so "unfortunate" as to be born and raised in the Sahara of the
Bozart. There are the places such as Buena Vista and Lafayette (luh-FAY-ut) in
Virginia. But then there is also Schuyler, for which the locals use the "correct"
Dutch pronunciation and laugh about yankee tourists who ask for directions to
"Shooler." And we all know how to pronounce Monticello "correctly."

Two of my own personal favorite Virginia place name pronunciations are Ceres (as if
"Roebuck" is coming next) and Dante (sort of rhymes with "saint"). And then we have
Botetourt County, which really separates the men from the boys.

But the rule to remember is that the pronuncation of a place name by the people who
acually live there is NEVER "incorrect;" funny, maybe, but not incorrect.

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