Ah, Worcester, you’re the worst-er-est. You’ve got so many silent letters, it’s almost like, why not just add a few more? A silent “x” perhaps right at the end, perhaps? Perhaps a silent “k” at the beginning? Then there’s the fact that so few of your letters give any sort of clue to how you’re actually pronounced. And finally, there’s almost no reasonable phonetic way to express how your first syllable is pronounced except to say that it sounds like the last vowel sound in New Hampshire. Alternatively, it would also be accurate to say that the first vowel sound in the first syllable of Worcester sounds like the vowel sound in the word “sir.”Here, just listen to this excellent rendition of the word, Worcester. And now that you know how to say the town name, you’ll be a pro at pronouncing the similarly named condiment.
Michigan: Sault Ste. Marie
When you arrive in Sault St. Marie, Michigan, don’t be surprised if someone says, “Welcome to the Soo,” because that is, in fact, how the first word of this town’s name is pronounced. The second word is pronounced “Saynt” (or “saint”). The reason for the “e” at the end is the town was named for the Virgin Mary by a French missionary, and the feminine of “St.” in French is “Ste.”So, say it with us: SOO Saint Mah-REE, and leave the “salt” out of it.
If you’re looking for a “way” to pronounce this, you’re going to have to ask “why”—as in, why you gotta be so confusing, Why-ZET-uh? Well, at least your name isn’t “Embarrass, Michigan.”
There are so many hard-to-pronounce place-names in Mississippi that it was hard to choose just one. But we chose Louisville because even if you know how to pronounce the one in Kentucky properly (LEW-wee-vill), or how to pronounce the one in Kentucky like you’re from Kentucky (LEW-uh-vill), it’s of no help at all. Rather, Louisville, Mississippi, is pronounced LEW-iss-vill. Nor does it help that Louisville, Mississippi, was named for a state senator by the name of Louis Winston because that would seem to imply the French pronunciation used in Kentucky. In fact, Louis Winston is pronounced “Lewis” Winston.
At least you probably know that the Mississippi River is NOT the longest in the U.S. But if you don’t, you can read about it here, along with other geography mistakes we all tend to make.
No, it’s not a typo. The tiny town of Qulin, Missouri (population approximately 450 at last count) has no vowel between the “Qu” and the rest of it, leaving most of us to wonder: WHICH vowel?The answer is: none. The town of Qulin is pronounced Q-lin. Why they spelled it that way remains a mystery.
Before we even get into how to pronounce “Winnemucca, Nevada,” we need to talk about how to pronounce “Nevada.” It’s Neh-VAD-uh. Pronouncing it Na-VAH-duh will raise the hackles of the locals. As for Winnemucca, it’s pronounced Win-eh-MUCK-uh. All together now: Win-eh-MUCK-uh, Neh-VAD-uh.
New Hampshire: Milan
New Jersey: Greenwich Township
New Jersey, being the Garden State, insists on pronouncing it as “GREEN-which.” And it’s not like there’s just one there in either. New Jersey has THREE towns that are known as “GREEN-which.” One is in Cumberland County, one in Gloucester (pronounced “GLAW-ster”) County, and one in Warren County. And if you ask them whether they care that New Yorkers have a “GREN-itch” Village and that there’s a “GREN-itch, Connecticut,” you know what they’re gonna say?Fuggedaboudit.