Proper pronunciation please | Pat Cashman

There is no surer way to detect non-natives than by their geographical mispronunciations. When you hear Medina enunciated as “ma-DEE-na”, Puyallup as “POO-a-loop” or Ballard as “ba-LARD”, you’ve definitely spotted a newbie.

After all, you can impugn a person’s honesty, intelligence or ancestry, but if you get the name of their hometown wrong, you’re due for a knuckle sandwich – served open-face.

The same is true of state names. Just pronounce Oregon as ‘ora-GONE’ and you’ll instantly be a pariah there – especially if you hail from WARSH-ington state.

Around here, most people get the Bellevue area names right. That’s because most of them are simple: Eastgate, Coal Creek, Crossroads, Newport and Overlake.

Sammamish is fairly easy too, but it’s one of those words like ‘banana.’ Some people have a hard time knowing when to stop.

As for Beaux Arts (boh-ZHART’), neither of its last letters seems to be pronounced – with an unseen ‘z’ sneaked in. What a waste of a perfectly good ‘x’ and ‘s’ (pronounced ‘excess’).

Bothell is pretty straightforward to pronounce – even though randy vandals are always trying to insert an ‘r’ into the name – thereby making the place sound like a red-light district.

The Associated Press Broadcast Pronunciation Guide says that the town of Duvall should be pronounced as ‘doo-VAWL’ – but I know a number of people who actually live there who put the emphasis on the first syllable: ‘DOO-vawl.’ Sounds like the townsfolk and the A.P. are spoiling for a fight.

As for Des Moines, Washington, no one seems to know for sure.

I found one pronunciation guide that says it should be ‘duh-MOIN’ – just like they pronounce it in Iowa.

Another guide says, no — it is ‘duh-MOINZ.’

But a friend who’s lived there for 50 years says, “They’re both wrong. It’s ‘DEZ-MOINZ.’

Des Moines needs to convene a city council meeting immediately and get this thing settled. It’s got to be hurting tourism.

Two final thoughts:

Blewitt Pass isn’t a town, but I decided to make mention of it since the name reminds me so much of last weekend’s unfortunate Seahawks game. The outcome made fans angry.

The tiny town of Pysht in Clallam County is pronounced PISHT. It is not a word meaning ‘angry.’

Pat Cashman can be reached at pat@patcashman.com.

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