How to Pronounce Oregon 

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Reader Comments (157)

of course, if you're a Portland, OR resident you also have "couch" street to deal with ---for some odd reason it's pronounced "cooch".

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlarraby

My mother's from Or eh Gun, and she would worsh our clothes.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWrench

Eh, it's hard to kepp straight. I grew up in Detroit; that is, day-twa (sounds like "ha!"). My mom is from New Orleans, which is ore-lee-oh (sounds like "on" if you drop the n) in the original French, but of course, the drunken locals call it nwarlins, and I'm not funny enough to make that up.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBWM

But, Gekkobear, it IS the Ar-kansas river! And that town just north of the OK border on I-35 is Ar-kansas City (though most people just call it Ark City). Only the state is pronounced Arkan-saw.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwhirlygirly

So, what one takes away from this comic and related comments is that English pronounciation barely resembles the writing and that's stupid.

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranon

From Missouri. I loathe people saying Missouruh.

And the Nevada in Missouri IS, in fact, pronounced Neh-VAY-da. Milan, MO is MY-lan, and Cairo, MO is pronounced Kay-ro. Of course, I've never really been too sure on the correct pronounciation of that name... Kay-ro? Ky-ro? Screw it.

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThor

From Missouri. I loathe people saying Missouruh.

And the Nevada in Missouri IS, in fact, pronounced Neh-VAY-da. Milan, MO is MY-lan, and Cairo, MO is pronounced Kay-ro. Of course, I've never really been too sure on the correct pronounciation of that name... Kay-ro? Ky-ro? Screw it.

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThor

From Missouri. I loathe people saying Missouruh.

And the Nevada in Missouri IS, in fact, pronounced Neh-VAY-da. Milan, MO is MY-lan, and Cairo, MO is pronounced Kay-ro. Of course, I've never really been too sure on the correct pronounciation of that name... Kay-ro? Ky-ro? Screw it.

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThor

Happy to report that most of us Australians pronounce Oregon correctly.
If you're up for a challenge, take a go at some Australian place names - we've got Xantippe, Queanbeyan, Canberra (the capital city - emphasis is on the first syllable, and the 'berra' is prounounced like there's no 'e'), Goondiwindi, and Ozenkadnook, just to name a few. Head into the rural areas and many of the towns are known by traditional Aboriginal names, which rate up there with Welsh place names in terms of difficulty to pronounce.
On the plus side, whatever pronunciation you decide on will be correct in the minds of at least some of the people living in or around that town...

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Now that I live in Lancaster ("lanxter") PA, I follow the Baltimore ("bal'mor") rule of eliminating syllables wherever possible.

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRock Ripsnort

Woot, I love B.I.
There's a neighborhood near where I live called Soquel (pronounced SO-kell) and we can instantly tell who's an out-of-towner when someone tries to saw "Sock-WELL".
And don't even get me started on "Cabrillo" (Spanish name, so it's pronounced "ca-BREE-oh")

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

I can't believe that no one has brought up Mackinac Island... but then again, maybe Mackinac Island Fudge has taught everyone that you don't pronounce the C.

As for "Warshington" my grandma has always stuck Rs in places they don't belong, and she's lived in MI her whole life. I thought it was an old people thing growing up... guess not!

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterashley

I live in Washington and you're wrong. Does anyone pronounce George Washington's name 'Warshinton?'

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTalon J

hew is new york sound like nu yok?

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe_Sod

Oh yes, Puyallup is my favorite town. pew-WALL-up. I moved to Oregon from NYS in 2001. My phone interview went like this:
Interviewer: "So you know you'll have to move to Beaverton for this job."
Me: "Oh yes, I'd love to live in ore-ih-GON".
Interviewer: "It's Or-a-gun."
Me: "..."

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

I never knew this till my baby sister said she was running away with her friend back to the friend's home in Organ. We figured it was a church thing till the parents corrected us. haha

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermycaricature

Oh North Americans... We are so bad at pronouncing things. Seriously.

As for the aye-ran vs ee-ran thing, you'd pronounce Germany like "jermany" and not like "doychlant" because Germany is the English name for Deutschland. Iran is just Iran. Iran is the English phonetic spelling for their country's name, which is ee-ran. Therefore, it really should be pronounced ee-ran, not aye-ran. (Actually it should be ee-rahn, but getting people to say the first vowel right is a big accomplishment already so I'm not going to push it too far).

Also... in Canada, we have the Appalachians, too, and we say "ap-puh-lay-shun."

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChare

As an Oregonian born in Washington and living in New England low these 40 years, I've never put an an "R" in Washington. And I always put an "R" in Harvard and Yard.

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristi Hill

As a resident of the Boston area I would like to apologize for all of the dropped "r"s our city produces, they always seem to turn up in the most unfortunate places. And no, I don't "pahk the cah in the yahd" myself, but my aunts are pretty hilarious.

Reading through the comments it's interesting to see all the Appalachian variations. The fact is that the mountain range crosses several distinct accents from Georgia up to Maine, and no one group really has a better claim to it than any other (It's app-ah-LAY-chun around here).

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate

Wait, I am also an Oregonian and I always said it as Organ, lilke a body Organ.

September 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Is this a record for most comments?

I'm from Detroit. It's not DAY-twa and it's not DEE-troit.

It's DI-troit.

And it's Aluminum for the silly Brit. One 'i', thank you. Don't you have an English-American phrase book?

I'm amused that you'll need a follow-up comic to straighten out the people who assumed a long-A sound in "OR a gun".

The Aussie guy (that's OZ-ee) doesn't realize that we Americans murder the pronunciation of their MAJOR cities. Brisbane is BRIZ-burn and Melbourne is MELL-burn. Technically, it's a very soft-R for the first one. We assume that it has to be mell-BORNE with that trailing E. We do fine with Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. All right, I admit to three syllables for Adelaide. ADD-laid, ADD-laid, ADD-laid--Are you happy? I know how to pronounce Canberra because of Kookaburra, which is both a bird and a childhood song.

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSoul of Wit

Weird, I've never met anyone who didn't pronounce "Oregon" as "Or-A-Gun". Before now, I'd never even stopped to think that was an issue.

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSamen

Oregon native, and I love this! You just made everyone that lives here fall in love with you.

Fun fact, there is a town called Boring, Oregon. It has nice orchards.

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I don't think there is a state that can beat Louisiana, try Pontchartrain, Tchoupitoulas, Natchitoches, Plaquemines, even New Orleans (no it isn't Gnawlins, nor Or-leanz, but kind of like Noirlynnz, kind of) etc. etc.

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

When I started hearing such things , I realized that I was the only one in my family of 6 that said "Warshinton". It was a mystery to me. I tended to pick up whatever accent I was around and had lived on Long Island since I was 5. I was 4 when we lived in DC, my parents set in their dialects and the other kids too young at 3 and 2 to consider attempting the word.

The only people I heard saying "Long Guyland" were from upstate.

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTQ

I had a friend drunk dial me from Ohio to have "a real Oregonian" tell her friends how to say Oregon.

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCallie

tresspassers, I live in Beaverton, and I love to pronounce it "Beaver-tone." Don't know why, I just like it. "Beaver-tron" is cute, but seems like too much work. ;D

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterleorising

Next week can you teach me how to pronounce Uruguay and Uranus?

I live in Washington (i guess warshinton) and I hate it when people who pronounce it Ore-GUN. It's not ore-GUN-o, it's not penta-GUN, and it's certainly not Tarra-GUN. That being said, I'm from Wis-CON-sin, and they keep pronouncing it Wis-CAWN-sin, so there is that.

Still love the comic, even if you're wrong. :)

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Wow, you guys made me feel really happy about how we say city names here in Brazil (and state names and countries)...
We just accept that we translate everything to portuguese and say everything phonetically and move on.
You all would be just pissed upon hearing a brazillian trying to say your cities names. Frankly, if properly instructed I would try to do my best, but wouldn't try too hard, either.
Of course, we also don't care if foreigners can't pronounce the names of our cities, because it's just futile. Unless you speak portuguese, there's no way on Earth you're going to say São Paulo correctly (spanish speakers will say 'San Paulo', which is also wrong). Obviously, I don't know how to begin explaining the pronounciation of 'ão' :P

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCamika

Soul of Wit - How to Bother Someone Back has the most, I think.

Amanda - another fun city/state combination is Flippin, Arkansas.

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdesertdolphin

I live in Albuquerque,
NO ONE and I mean NO ONE knows how to spell Albuquerque
close your eyes and it wrong didn't you?

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermaribethann65

Mute points are nonexistent. Moot points are irrelevant. (:
Sorry, pet peeve. I'll just be leaving now.

September 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrandom girl

What's ironic is that while Scott is right-on with his pronunciation of Oregon, it's still possible for people to misinterpret the lettering, as one post has already proven. When pronouncing the phrase "carry a knife or a gun," most people don't say "carry a knife or AY gun." They say it quickly, and it ends up sounding closer to "carry a knife or uh gun."

Similarly, the "e" in "Oregon" is also a schwa. So it's more like "Or-uh-gun." Oh, and "Or-eh-gun" is acceptable, too. Only we say it quickly so it doesn't sound slack-jawed. Well, at least, I don't. Maybe in the backwoods they might emphasize it differenty.....

What's ironic is that there's a popular bumper sticker around the University of Oregon which consists only of the state's name, but spelled "ORYGUN." This is misleading, because nobody says "Or-ee-gun."

Y'know, English really is a crappy language for explaining pronunciation. Even the word "phonetic" is spelled with a stupid "ph"........

September 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRadien

I have one word: "Kissimmee."

September 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMikey

So Oregonian would be pronounced [ore-'gun-ian], where that u is a schwa?

September 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGary


But that would be logical! We can't have that!

Actually, for whatever reason, we pronounce "Oregonian" with a long "oh" sound for the "gon" part. As I understand it, "Washingtonian" is similar, so at least it's a little bit consistent. (Although I'm not even going to attempt to comment on the "Warsh" pronunciation)

September 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRadien

@Adam H. I've been living in Kentucky my entire life, and I've never once met more than three people that could agree on how to pronounce Louisville right. I've always said it as "Lul-vull" where as my grandparents always pronounced it like the name Louis. I think it might differ with geography, as I'm from western Kentucky and my Grandparents are from Eastern. And of course now that I go to school together, there is just a slew of new pronunciations.

September 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPhill L.

When I first visited friends in Peabody, MA, I got lots of funny looks until somebody explained it was pronounced "Pibbity."

And don't make the mistake of pronouncing Worcester like the Brits do (Wooster, as in Bertie). In Massachusetts, you say "Wuhstuh."

September 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Skubinna

Another native Oregonian here, and a linguist.
For most Oregonians I know, it's homophonous with "organ". That is, there is no vowel between the r and the g. Also, the vowel in "gun" is not a schwa(ə), but a "wedge"(ʌ). A proper schwa is like the "o" in "computer". The "o" in "Oregon", however, is actually more like a barred-i (ɨ), which is similar to the "e" in "roses".

Also, I grew up in Florence, which is about an hour away from Coos Bay, and I've only ever pronounced it "kooz". Then again, I pronounce "Siltcoos" with "koos" (rhyming with "goose").

Most people pronounce "Siuslaw" (SIGH-you-slaw), "Tahkenitch" (TACK-ih-nitch), "Woahink" (WOE-hink), and "Yachats" (YAH-hahts) differently than natives, too.

But being a linguist, it no longer bothers me when people get it "wrong", but rather it's fascinating to see all the variation.

... Actually one bothers me. Beijing is not "bay-zhing" where "zh" is like the g in "garage", but "bay-jing" with "j" as in "jingle". And it's definitely not "Peking". :)

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermike
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