0069: One Weird Hack To Nail Location Pronunciations Every Single Time

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Hey there, hero!

I’m sure that wherever you grew up, there were various names of local points of interest that had very local names.

And you know the right way to say them. But people who aren’t from around there? Not so much.

But you can only be familiar with a few areas and their peculiar place names – even if you are a military brat and moved around a lot.

So how do you handle unfamiliar location names when narrating an audiobook, or reviewing an audition script that has them?

I gotcha covered with my number one go-to source, and it works every single time.

What are the most mispronounced locations where you grew up? And if you have any other suggestions for resources, put them in the comments below.

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  1. I usually call the town hall. They almost always have an IVR, regardless of the time, and it usually says something like “Thank you for calling the Lima Town Hall”. Quick call, no explanations, get on with the session.

  2. I do the same thing with Chambers of Commerce. If that doesn’t work, I’ll call the non-emergency number for the local police department. Hadn’t thought of the library, that’s a great idea.

  3. I’ve used this technique for many years because for anyone who knows the place, a mispronunciation will take them right out of the story and they’ll miss the next three sentences and think I’m a jerk. Failing a town hall or library, there’s usually some business with the name “Raquette Lake Supply Co” that I can call off hours to get the IVR to name the place.

  4. I go to YouTube and type: How to say _________. You have different options, I like the one where local people mention the name in an interview.

  5. Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood did a show at the Captiol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH (yes Capitol is actually spelled with ol) . They created and sang an entire song using the word Concord. Concord is pronounced Con-curd. They sang the entire song pronouncing it Con-cord. Drove me crazy!

  6. I google. . .”how do you pronounce Worcester.” There are whole bunches of pronunciation videos on YouTube.

  7. David,
    I don’t have a suggestion. However, I want to say how proud I was of you to hear you knew EXACTLY how to pronounce Woburn! Well done!!!
    Mare

  8. I remember an incident during my radio on air career. It was during my first radio gig in a town in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The area had many different nationalities one of which was French. There was a name spelled Demorette and was pronouced DEM mor ay (ay as in DAY). Later on I moved to Indiana and encountered a name spelled exactly the same way except there it was pronounce dem more rett. In hindsight it’ better to find out for sure.

  9. Great idea!! It’s amazing how you can tell a non-local! I think the Arizona city of Prescott is widely mispronounced (if you don’t know, it’s more like a biscuit!). Or Houston Street in NYC is not said like the city in TX. Even a bridge in NYC/NJ is pronounced differently than a town in upstate New York of the SAME name: Pulaski. My favorite research hack is to seek out a local (or two) to make sure I’m on the right track with pronunciation.

    1. Wow, really? I’ve probably heard thousands of traffic reports on 1010 WINS that mentioned the Pulaski Bridge, but never knew the pronunciations were different…what are the two pronunciations of Pulaski? puhLASkee and pooLASkee?

      1. Even more different, although BOTH are named after the same person: Correct with puh-LASkee for the bridge but the upstate NY town is pronounced puh-LAS-kye with a long ‘i’ at the end – (Fun fact: Pulaski, NY is the salmon fishing capital of NY).

  10. Thanks for the tip, David! I do that when I’m doing a local commercial, except instead of calling the library, I call the company I’m doing the ad for & see how they answer the phone! Sometimes, I need the correct pronunciation of their street or county, also.