Why is "Missouri" pronounced with -z-

James Landau jjjrlandau at EARTHLINK.NET
Fri Dec 9 00:52:33 UTC 2005

> [Original Message]
> From: Terry Irons <t.irons at MOREHEAD-ST.EDU>
> Date: 12/7/2005 11:12:38 AM
> Subject: Re: Why is "Missouri" pronounced with -z-

> 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.

Sounds good to me, but I do have to point out that in MISsisSIPpi there is
a following syllable with stress, and would Verner's Law say the
pronunciation should be /Mrs. Zippy/?

     - James A. Landau

PS  I used "y'all" and a fourteen-year-old girl, third-generation South
Jersey, asked, "Where are you from, the country?"

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