Saturday, October 13, 2012

Missouree? Missouruh?


My dad grew up in southeast Nebraska (Verdon, to be precise), which is less than 20 miles from the Missouri state line.  When he pronounces the name of the neighboring state, he says "Missouruh."  So of course I say it that way too.  My sister, on the other hand, who attended law school at Washington University in St. Louis, pronounces it "Missouree".  This has been a friendly inter-familial battle for years, so I was happy to see the New York Times weigh in on the debate today.  Apparently, the pronounciation that Dad and I favor is "country" and "old fashioned."  My sister says it the way city folk do.

The Times mentions that Missouri is the only state where the natives differ on how to pronounce its name.  One theory is that Interstate 70 serves as a sort of Mason-Dixon line, those above the line pronounce it Missouree, and those below pronounce it Missouruh.  I'm no linguist, but when I moved to the Piedmont of North Carolina from Indianapolis, I recognized the accent -- its very similar to the accent that I heard visiting my Grandma in southeast Nebraska and driving through rural Missouri.  That area of Nebraska, like southern Missouri, and southern Indiana for that matter, was settled 150 years ago by folks from Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  Generations later, you can still hear the accent in the pronounciations of some words.

So, all that being said, I'm sticking with my pronounciation of "Missouruh." 

Tanya Marsh

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To bolster your theory, my mother in law is from rural southeastern Ohio. Although she otherwise has no discernible accent, she says "Cincinnatah," as opposed to the moral typical "Cincinnatee." The same folks that settled in the that corner of Ohio also settled in Kentucky, West Virginia, etc.

Posted by: Admin Guy | Oct 15, 2012 5:51:45 AM

Make that "more" typical . . .

Posted by: Admin Guy | Oct 15, 2012 9:35:35 AM

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