Local pronunciations

Two notes on the pronunciation of proper names: on the city of Bangor ME and on the actor Ryan Phillippe.

Bangor. From Karen Chung on Facebook a while back, this YouTube video on the pronunciation of Bangor ME as /bæŋgɔr/ (with secondary accent, and hence a full vowel,  on the last syllable), not /bæŋgər/ (with unaccented last syllable, and hence a schwa there). As Karen pointed out, this is the opposite treatment from some other place names, like Oregon, where the local pronunciation favors schwa; the usual story in the second cases is that familiarity facilitates ease of articulation, hence the schwa. Similarly with Lancaster PA, where the “outsider” pronunciation follows the British usage, with secondary accent and full vowel in the second syllable — /lænkæstər/ — while the local pronunciation has a reduced vowel there: /læŋkɨstər/.

Opposed to ease of articulation for Bangor is the assertion of local identity with an unexpected and distinctly local pronunciation. Any number of places take pride in the unexpected and distinctly local pronunciations of their place names. Things can go either way.

Phillippe. Until a few days ago, I hadn’t heard the surname pronounced, only read it in print, so I assumed it was pronounced with an anglicized approximation to French — /fɨˈlip/ — but now that I’ve heard it pronounced on television, I discover that it’s /ˈfɪlɨpi/ (like fillipy); according to his Wikipedia entry, the surname was originally German, and spelled Phillippi. In any case, now the pronunciation is whatever he says it is (within the boundaries of phonological well-formedness in English), and it’s not our business to say otherwise.

More on the man from Wikipedia:

Matthew Ryan Phillippe (… born September 10, 1974), better known as Ryan Phillippe, is an American actor and director. After appearing on the soap opera One Life to Live, he came to fame in the late 1990s starring in a string of films, including I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, and 54. In the 2000s, he appeared in several films, including 2001’s Academy Award Best Picture nominee Gosford Park, 2005’s Academy Award-winning ensemble film Crash, and the 2006 war drama Flags of Our Fathers. In 2007 he starred in Breach, a movie based on the true story of FBI operative Eric O’Neill, while in 2008 he headlined Kimberly Peirce’s Iraq war film Stop-Loss. In 2010, he starred as Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Greg Marinovich in The Bang-Bang Club.

Here he is looking cute and curly:


Since I’ve now gotten to a hunky young actor, here he is shirtless on the beach:


Yes, I’m shameless.

One Response to “Local pronunciations”

  1. David Says:

    Residents of Chicago and environs pronounce the town and the street Des Plaines with an S sound at the end of each word.

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