You Say Po-TAY-to, I Say Po-TAT-o, You say Nu-VAH-duh, I Say Nu-VAD-uh

Nothing like someone mispronouncing a name on the air to get the phones ringing off the wall in a newsroom.   According to an article in Shoptalk, the pronunciation of the name of the state where one would find the cities of Las Vegas, Carson City and Reno has been a bone of contention for those who live in “The Silver State”.  It seems those in the know pronounce it “Nu-VAD-uh” with the “a” sounding like the “a” in cat.  However it seems too many national news types are calling the state Nu-VAH-duh, and that’s seriously chapping some rear ends out west.  As you might imagine, it doesn’t take much to chap the skin in that dry heat. Remember to moisturize folks!   I actually got my come-uppence more than 30-years ago as I visited with some folks from Nevada while I was in San Francisco fresh out of high school.  When I mispronounced the name of the state, I was corrected quickly.  I hadn’t really given it much thought at the time since I was born in Missouri.  There people who live in the “Show-Me State” call it both Mah-zur-EE and Mah-zur-UH.  People in Nevada don’t see their state having but one pronunciation.  It’s the same way with small towns in Midsouth and across the country.  One can always tell a newcomer to the area when he or she refers to the earthquake fault line in this area as the “New Muh-DRID” zone (pronounced like the city in Spain) as opposed to the “New MAD-rid” zone.  Then there is little town in West Tennessee that looks like the city in South America (Bogota) which is pronounced there as Bo-guh-TAH but here in the MidSouth is pronounced Buh-GOH-tuh.   Trust me, if you mispronounce the name once, you’re considered a newbie to the area.  If  you keep mispronouncing the name, you’re considered an idiot.  Which brings me to this old joke from Kentucky: How do you pronounce the name of Kentucky’s capital-“Lewy-VILLE or LOO-uh-vul”? 

Answer:Actually you pronounce the capital of Kentucky as “Frank-furht”.

Good night folks and make sure you tip your waitress.  We’re here all week.

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5 Comments on “You Say Po-TAY-to, I Say Po-TAT-o, You say Nu-VAH-duh, I Say Nu-VAD-uh”

  1. Joe G. Says:


    Don’t forget about Bolivar, TN, (BOLL-IVER instead of BOW-LI-VAR). Or Milan (MY-LAN instead of ME-LAAN). I recall one of your former weekend anchor mates read a story about the Milan Arsenal which must be in It’ly, ’cause the only one I knows about in these here parts is the MY-LAN one.

    I’m told that even in NYC there’s a Houston St. that’s pronounced HOUSE-TON, instead of like the Texas City.

    At least we didn’t work in a market that had Bugtussle and Mount Pixie in it.

    P.S. here’s a joke from my days at TV-43 in Hoptown: If DULY is spelled D-U-L-Y, what does J-U-L-Y spell? I watched a guy thinking about that one for 10 secs. before realizing that the word is the month July, and not the name of his high school sweetheart.

  2. Doug J. Says:

    Miss, miss? I’d like to try the veal.

    BTW, as an Ohioan, our thing was the town of Lima. Not LEE-ma, like the city in Peru… But LIE-ma. Which makes for some confusion which the Marine unit in Central Ohio — Lima Company — not LIE-ma, but LEE-ma, since it’s based on the phonetic alphabet.

    And I’m not even going to talk about the bean.

  3. Ahhhh, Buh Gota, that is the correct way to say it. Such fond memories from downtown Bogota. How many sat live shots did I do from there, let me count them. Gore, floods, murders … the list goes on and on!

    Where are you now Joe Gannon?

    -T- in VA

  4. BrentD Says:

    Having living in Nevada for many years before moving to Memphis, my standard response to the inevitable mispronunciation is, “We let you call R-Kansas anything you want, just humor us.”

    It usually works.

  5. Joe Gannon Says:

    Tommy, I’m out west in Phoenix, AZ.

    By the way, Doug, if you want more laughs, search for “Jack E Leonard” on YouTube when you get a chance. And anybody who grew up watching Nashville TV, do a search for “Nashville bloopers.” There’s some great old stuff with Huell Howser and his story about Porky the Pig, Virg Jacques, Bob Lobertini, Carl Tipton, Hee Haw, etc.

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