Local pronunciations

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Oct 26 21:54:20 UTC 2005

Fritz said:

'Well, here in Oregon, we have Lebanon, not to be confused with the country,
which is Lebanon. What's the diff, you ask? Well, the stress--the city's last
syllable is pronounced exactly as the last syllable in the name of the state as
pronounced by a Webfoot--Orygun (more or less), hence LEB uh nun (more or

I always seem to be the one saying 'Yes, but look at the British usage!' on this
list.  I suppose it's a useful role!

So, yes, Fritz, but look at the British usage!  For us, the country is like
Lebanon, OR: LEB uh nuhn.  (Incidentally, the British native proununciation of
'Oregon', ie the one that most Brits would come up with on their own, is also
the one favoured by Webfoots, I'm told (*modulo* vowel quality):  the stress is
the Oregonian one, with only one stress, O ruh guhn, as opposed to the primary-
and secondary-stressed variant used by some non-Oregonian Americans, O ruh GON,
or something.)

I can add the following to the growing collection of local pronunciations of
placenames which differ from that of the ur-placename:

- berLIN, Germany, but BERlin, CT and NH (cf also the stress-placement in the
phrases 'berLIN' (the city in Germany) but 'BERlin WALL')
- Newark, NJ = NEWark, like the English town, but Newark, DE = newARK, with two
primary stresses, as if it were still two words
- all the Welsh place-names in Greater Philadelphia, which are pronounced as
they would be if they were of English-language origin:  here the difference is
not one of stress but one of segment, so 'Gwynedd' has a /d/ at the end in PA
but an /eth/ (voiced interdental fricative) at the end in Wales;  Bala Cynwyd
has completely different vowels in PA from those it has in Wales;  and of
course the famous Bryn Mawr, PA = /brIn ma:r/, but Bryn Mawr in Welsh = /brUn
maeUr/ or similar, I think.

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

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