How to Pronounce Oregon 

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Reader Comments (153)

I grew up in Pennsylvania, where the only people who pronounce it incorrectly are the people who live there. If you are FROM Pennsylvania you completely drop the "L" and say Pen-sa-VAIN-ya. If you say it correctly, people know you're an outsider. Also, it's the only state that's frequently referred to by natives simply as its two letter abbrevation. "Oh yeah, I'm going back to PA today." Also, we often call it "Pennsie". Any other states abbreviate that way?

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterK

And don't even start on places like Worcester. It's "Woost-er", not "War-sest-er" or "War-chest-er". Crazy British Isles spellings.

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpyano

RK- In American English it's not "aluminium," it's "aluminum (ah-LOO-min-um)."

I'm from the Appalachian foothills (E. Ohio, PA/WV tri-state area). Most people here, though, are surprisingly good at pronouncing things, e.g. Louisville and Oregon.

You're right, Muddie. There're some pretty silly names hanging out around here, too, though, like Mantua (MAN-uh-way) and the Newark (like newrk/nurk) near Columbus.

Honestly I didn't know some of the other names even had variations. That said, I don't think you have to be native to get how to pronounce things, I just think accents can get in the way.

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermowry

Travelling through New Mexico, I had to chuckle at folks from Alamogordo. Not at the people, really, but how they pronounced the name. When saying the full name, they pronounced it ALMA-GORDO, but in abbreviation threw in the second "a" ALA-MO.

I can't blame them. When your town's name is five syllables long, steps need to be taken (or omitted, rather).

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterByron Black

WES-con-sin,
WIS-con-sin,
Wes-CON-sin,
Wis-CON-sin,
WES-can-sin,
WIS-can-sin,
Wes-CAN-sin,
Wis-CAN-sin.

Who cares?
Republican or Democrat,
Lut'ran or Cat'lick.
So long as you love 'dem PACKERS, you're OK!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gracQf60DrE&feature=player_embedded

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter'Scansin 'Lute-ran

This is stupid, but not as stupid as Clark College!

October 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlady

One that really annoys me in a similar vein to e-ran/eye-ran is the BBC pronouncing Afghanistan as Afghanistahn because thats the way the English upper class pronounce a's. Pronounce place names as close to how a native would, it's pretty condescending to insinuate that the natives would pronounce the place name how you do, if only they were as well educated as you!

October 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEnglish Bantam

I giggle with glee any time anyone mentions my often-out-of-the-limelight home state, and cheer heartily when somebody pronounces it correctly. Thanks for making my week!
When I was little, I owned a computer game that, among other things, had a little minigame designed to teach us wee ones facts about the states. I cried a little inside each time the voice-over said, "Find the key. The key is in Ore-ee-gone."

October 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrateful in OR

I live in SE Michigan, north of us there is a city called Port Huron. Supposedly pronounced exactly as it looks. But people who live around there sound like they are saying "porch urine".

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterljdarten

I don't know how many times i ace heard people pronounce Seattle "sea-tle" instead of "sea-atle" I mean, it's okay if it's some small city no one has heard of, but seattle and portland are major citys

October 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJakobself

thanks for posting it. this is really one of my pet peeves-- most of my family is from oregon, but I'm living in ohio, and I don't think I've heard a single person pronounce the name correctly in all the years I've been here.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternme

Actually, most Oregonians put more of an "ee" in the second syllable

October 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRon

@Ron: Who is "most Oregonians?" I've lived in the Springfield/Eugene area and the Portland area, and I've been to Salem quite regularly -- that covers the three largest communities in Oregon -- and I regularly hear it pronounced as a schwa rather than an "ee" sound. To be honest, "Or - ee - goh - nee - unn" would sound pretty dorky to me.

October 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRadien

Oh my gosh, I loved this strip! I was born in Jersey, but my parents moved our family out here when I was two. So with most of my relatives (from both sides) out on the east coast; I've had this conversation MANY times. Mainly with my grandfather, who pronounces OR-UH-GUN incorrectly, as well as WAR-SHIN-TIN...Gahh!!! I drives me crazy...However, I can't blame him. There are a lot of native american names in the northwest that even I still have a hard time figuring out how to pronounce. Puyallup? That the heck? Oh! And another thing that really bugs me is when I call 411 for a phone number, and the business I'm looking for is on Willamette street. They ALWAYS pronounce it WILL-UH-MET, instead of WILL-AHM-IT. Whatever.

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSome girl from Oregon

Walla-Walla Washington. 'Nuff said.

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBirdawg

When someone asks me why people in Oregon pronouce it differently than the city in Illonois, I ask them to tell me how they would pronouced the name of the city in Oregon, Yachatz. Then, I ask them to explain to me why the pronouce it that way. Their answers are very amusing. The origin and development of the pronunciation of place names is a complicated study. Whatever the "experts" say, it is mixed with their own bias and training. I have always believed that you should pronouce a state or city the way the natives do. I think it is a matter of respect. How would you pronouce "Yachatz?" Ask the natives! If you pronouce a name differently than the natives do, apologize out of respect. If you are a native and correct someones pronunciaton, do so out of respect. Let's help protect and repect local history and traditions.

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrcran

rcran:

Well now, I agree. But I have to ask: how do many of them pronounce it, and how do Yachatz natives say it? Because I always heard it was pronounced like "YAH-hots," and I just assumed it was the native pronunciation.

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRadien

I live in Washington, and I don't like the way Warshington sounds.

(But I think it's really cool that I live in the same state as you.)

January 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThalia

A contribution from across the pond ...

How about Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, England?

You only get to say 'Slayth-wayte' once and get away with it. At the very least, say 'Slath-wayt' even if only to reduce the number of glass beads you have to hand over ;-)

Locally, the Moonrakers pronounce their home village name as 'Sla-wit' .

For further reference, it's alleged that a Yorkshireman ("Tyke") once explained life to his son in simple terms:

"Eat all, sup all, pay nowt;
See all, hear all, say nowt -
And if tha' ivver does owt for nowt ... allus do it for thi'sen"

Pete

January 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thomas

I once took a train trip to Burnet, Texas. Burnet is a tourist-oriented place, and the folks there greeted us with a well-rehearsed skit including the line "It's Burnet, durn it, cancha learn it?"

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertrigonman3

Or-aa-gun. Not Or AY gun. Some prefer ory-gun. Oregun. It is for sure not Or AY gun.

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I've never even been to America, and I knew how to pronounce Oregon. I just can't fathom why anyone for whom English is their first language,when faced with the word 'Oregon' would choose to pronounce it any other way.

February 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPuppy Sandwich

I live in Eugene (YOU-gene). My favorite hard to pronounce Oregon town is Yachats, on the coast. It's YA-hots. Not Ya-chats.

April 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

The problem with this comic is that in "...a knife OR A GUN" the "a" is pronounced differently across the US. In some places, like the East coast where this pronunciation problem runs rampant, the " a" is pronounced "ay," but on the best coast it's more common to pronounce it "uh" So OR-ay-gun is much different than OR-uh-gun, which is ACTUALLY how "Oregon" is pronounced. Kapish?

May 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey

As an Oregonian living in the midwest, I just usually tell people to pronounce the last syllable like they would for wagon and dragon (it's NOT wa-gone and dra-gone, so it's also NOT Ore-gone). Then I have to hope they're not quick enough to come up with the examples of pentagon, hexagon, ect. They're usually not :)

May 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteremily

hey, sometimes place names are pronounced differently in different languages or dialects. i mean, i know how to say montreal properly (mon-ray-AL) but you sound like a douchebag if you inject that into an english conversation, so munt-ree-ALL.

however, toronto is indisputably pronounced TRON-oh.

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermels

All this talk of Northwest towns and nobody brought up Yakima? I die a little on the inside every time someone says "ya-KEE-ma".

Note from Scott: I grew up near Yakima, and even more loathsome than "Ya-KEE-ma" is "yaki-MUH."

June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYozul

I've been working my way through the archive for the last couple of weeks. Although I feel a bit odd about posting a comment for a strip that is almost a year old, I am still compelled to profess the sheer strength of the mental slap I received when I read this. I have lived in Oregon for the past 19 years and this is the first time it has come to my attention that I mispronounce the name of my own state. I'm experiencing a mild form of shock and am now racking my memories for instances where someone might have tried to correct me or pronounced it in another way than "or-gon", but I'm not finding any. Naturally, this is leading me to question whether it's due to my poor enunciation in general (usually I'm aware of it, though; slight speech impediment), a potentially unknown auditory recognition problem, or the fact that my town is located five miles from the Californian border and it's some strange regional flaw. I don't know. What I do know is that I'll be more alert during future conversations simply so I can analyze how they say it. I really should have noticed something was off before this with how I use "or-ah-goh-nee-uhn"... Wait, neither of those pronunciations makes sense! What the hell is wrong with me and the people who taught me how to speak?!

Anyway, I adore your comic, Scott.

I also blame you for making my already wordy typing even wordier... Thank you.

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTamara

Hitherto, I have known how to pronounce all of the states mentioned, and none of the cities therein.

Try this one: St. Amos.

Go ahead. Try to pronounce it.


It's pronounced san-uh-maw.

But we're in the south, in Louisiana; I reckon that it is some sort of Cajun French thing.

November 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAtari

Scott, i'm from Brazil and here I always heard "Or-eh-gone" too!

this strip came to finally make justice for the "Or-a-gunians"!

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDarth GTB

I've been trawling through the archives, and this one I just had to comment on ...

Australians are called Ozzies, not Oss-sies!

Also Brisbane is pronounced Bris-bin, not Bris-bane, and Melbourne is Mel-bin, not Mel-bourne. Silly Americans, pronouncing things the way they're spelled, not the fastest way possible.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeka

The comment about Pierre, SD, seems irrelevant, as Pierre is only the capitol city, and houses nearly 14,000 people. Oregon houses over 3 million, although to people in both places, they'd be equally annoying. Like when people mispronounce Tempe, or Prescott, AZ. That gets annoying as well.

May 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMr. L

in new hampshire, coos is pronounced "south canada".

November 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjames

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