Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
Get it right so you don't tick off the locals.
You know how when you go into Starbucks, no one can ever spell or pronounce your name right? Now, imagine that happening every single time you tell people the name of your hometown. It could get pretty annoying.
It's definitely a sensitive issue for folks in Maine's Queen City.
"People ought to get it right," one resident complained to NBC's Harry Smith. "It's real simple to do. It's not 'pot-ay-toes' or 'pot-ah-toes', it's Bang-'or'."
So, "Bangor" rhymes with the word "store," not the word "hanger." To make that point as clear as possible, residents, journalists, local celebrities, and police officers have come together to make a set a PSA for outsiders—set to a familiar tune:
Outsiders mispronounce the names of several cities around the United States, and even the world, because they don't just know any better. Californians have a harder time with names of towns from upstate New York, for example.
But let's face it, those spellings are confusing. For visitors who don't want to avoid touching the nerve of locals if they visit a confusingly-named city in America, here's a guide to help train your tongue.
Now, don't screw it up.