Monday, October 30, 2006

Pronunciations of towns' names are important

Though, as I recall, the project was never completed, during my first years at The Carthage Press, Marvin VanGilder began work on a stylebook for The Press, designed to provide information for new reporters on everything from official designations of roads and highways in this area to proper titles for elected officials.
I thought about that project Friday when I heard the names of two small area towns, Alba and Avilla, butchered on one of our local television stations.
Let's face it. Most of the young people who come to work in this television market are not from around here. There are exceptions, but for the most part, that is the way it is.
I would imagine our local TV news operations would have some kind of guidebook to help these young reporters with such knotty problems as pronunciation of town names. If not, there should be such a guide.
In addition to Avilla and Alba, I have heard Monett, Nevada, and other towns mispronounced, and you know it has to drive the people in those communities crazy when that happens.
During my 22 years of covering school sports, nothing irritated me more than public address announcers who did not take the time to learn how to pronounce the names of the players before the pre-game introductions. All it would have taken was a couple of seconds to talk to someone from the visiting team and find out how the names were pronounced.
Those of us who were in print journalism had a major advantage- no one knew if we could pronounce the names, only if we could spell them. For those in electronic journalism, or those like the aforementioned public address announcers, one lesson should be learned right from the start- names are important.


The Lorax said...

It's a terrible thing to mispronounce a town name. Hands down.

It's equally frustrating to those doing the reporting to try and learn each quirky town name that defies reasonable pronounciation.

Versailles? Not ver-sigh!
Nevada? Not neh-vah-duh!

Heck, even the easily said Reeds Spring gets butchered when you add additional Springs!

It's tough... and a pronouncer book would help. And so would less nasty emails when the news kid butchers it... =)

At least I grew up in St Louis where Bellefontaine, Gravois, and many more have lost all French-ness.... and apparent correct pronounciations have been lost for a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

Ha! You should hear how they mangle the Marais des Cygnes River. lhsjxlq

Anonymous said...

Oops. Got caught in your system. :)