Pronouncing Wisconsin

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Dec 22 01:58:42 UTC 2006

dInIs, I had a university freshman in my class about twenty years ago who pronounced Massachusetts just that way. It's probably widespread, like "busghetti."


"Dennis R. Preston" <preston at MSU.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Dennis R. Preston"

Subject: Re: Pronouncing Wisconsin

Well, Wilson, it beats my boyhood Massa-two-shits. Guess how
surprised I was when I found it on a map.


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: Wilson Gray
>Subject: Re: Pronouncing Wisconsin
>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 wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> Sender: American Dialect Society
>> Poster: "Arnold M. Zwicky"
>> 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
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
>come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>-Sam'l Clemens
>The American Dialect Society -

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
15C Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
preston at

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