Pronouncing Wisconsin

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 21 18:21:45 UTC 2006

So, I take it, then, that "West Consin," the hypercorrected version
that I concocted while still but a tyke down in Texas, is not
acceptable? :-) That probably explains why it was years before I could
find the place on a map!


On 12/21/06, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Pronouncing Wisconsin
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Dec 21, 2006, at 9:37 AM, Scot LaFaive wrote:
> > I've noticed lately that many commercials played in Wisconsin seem
> > to have
> > people clearly pronouncing the /k/ sound in the second syllable,
> > and it
> > sounds odd to me. From what I gather from 31 years in Wisconsin, it
> > seems
> > that natives generally don't clearly pronounce the /k/; I think we
> > tend to
> > voice it as /g/, but I may be wrong in my analysis (my ears don't
> > distinguish so well, the lazy fools). Just curious if anyone else has
> > noticed this or can confirm or correct me.
> this one comes up here from time to time.  the short version is:
> "Wisconsin" is usually pronounced by natives of the state with an
> unaccented first syllable, but by outsiders with a tertiary accent on
> the first syllable.  the accentual difference yields a difference in
> syllable-division.  with unaccented first syllable, the s is
> syllabified as part of the second syllable: Wi.scon.sin; the k is
> then unaspirated (as in "skin"), which you might be hearing as
> voicing.  with an accent on the first syllable, the s can be (though
> it doesn't have to be) syllabified as the offset of that syllable:
> Wis.con.sin; if so, the k is aspirated and will be heard as a clear k.
> arnold
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