Why is "Missouri" pronounced with -z-

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 7 23:19:45 UTC 2005

On 12/7/05, sagehen <sagehen at westelcom.com> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Why is "Missouri" pronounced with -z-
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >Gerald,
> >
> >As a graduate student working for Don Lance in the 80s, I did some
> >research on the history of the pronunciation of Missouri.   In the 19th
> >century, in fact,  [mIsuri] was the preferred pronunciation.  The
> >pronunciation [mIzuri] was scorned.  An explanation for the shift from s
> >to z in "Missouri" and "possess" in contrast with "Mississippi" is a
> >variant of Verner's Law--stress on the following syllable.
> >
> >I believe Don covered this in one of his articles on the pronunciation
> >of Missouri ((1985, Missouri Folklore Society Journal or 1999 Names) but
> >I am not certain.
> >
> >Virtually, Terry
> ~~~~~~~~~~
> What makes the "Mizzouree" / "Mizzourah" distinction?  My mother, b. St.
> Louis 1905, always said "Mizzouree."
> A. Murie

As a teen, I noticed that friends of mine whose family originated in
Cincinnatuh also thought that St. Louis was located in Missouruh. By
coincidence, my maternal grandmother, who was born, lived, and died in
Texas, also always used"Missouruh" and never "Missourih." My mother herself,
as do my brothers and I, says "Missouri."


-Wilson Gray

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