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Nevada, Learn to Pronounce Your Name! July 17, 2009

Posted by bhbeverlyho in Uncategorized.
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On the History Channel, I saw a miniseries about the history of all 50 states. The name of the series was, originally, The States. The segment on the State of Nevada included two entertainers, Penn and Teller, well, more like one entertainer and one wordless dummy, and they were making the case that the state name should be pronounced ne VAD uh. They even showed a license plate with the “correct” pronunciation. The Net’s wikipedia would agree with them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevada


Hu-hum, ne VAH duh, the last time I checked, is a Spanish word meaning snow clad, and since the English short ‘a’ phonetic isn’t even used in Spanish, I strongly disagree. Nevada is a Spanish word, and thus is subject to the phonetics of that language, hence, ne VAH duh, NOT ne VAD uh. Nevadans, if you can’t even pronounce your own name correctly, maybe you should change it, to say, Nevade, long ‘a’ or Nevad, short ‘a’, instead of insisting that everyone else pronounce it as incorrectly as you do. If you don’t like the Spanish pronunciation, change your state’s name to a non-Spanish word!!

But I’m being very thorny, picking on Nevadans. I mean, afterall, Americans have a very long history of not respecting the Spanish or Native American names we seem to like so much. We like them so much we eradicate them. All a part of  the Manifest Destiny mentality that is so hard to shake. Carlos Beltran, the talented Mets slugger, is often called Carlos BEL-tran instead of BEL-trahn by sports announcers. I have friends with the last name of Sanchez, and they have to correct ignorant Americans who insist that last name is pronounced SAN-chez instead of SAHN-chez. Come on, America, that kind of naivete was okay in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s because we had an excuse being a whole continent, surrounded by two vast oceans, away from the rest of the world. Now we have contact with the world in seconds, thanks to electronics and in hours, thanks to aerodynamics. It’s time to upgrade to respecting the phonetics of other languages.

The way Nevada was added to the United States is hardly a chapter in US history to be proud. Basically it was a stronger nation, the US, creating a war with Mexico to get very valuable land. The Mexican-American War was not necessary. Whites squawked about Mexicans raiding or murdering, but the other side of the story, whites raiding or murdering the native peoples and Mexican nationals was conveniently overlooked, as though white lives lost were more important than the lives of people of color. The US only compensated Mexico with $15 million dollars for about one third of what became the USA. One lonely silver mine in Ne-VAH-duh no doubt produced more than $15 million of silver.

Whenever someone from Nevada challenges my pronunciation of that state’s name, I remind him/her of that state’s shady acquistion. Ne-VAH-duh Ne-VAH-duh NeVAH duh