Saturday, February 25, 2012

Virginia Names and the Way We Pronounce Them

View from Rocky Knob
Photo by Kimberly Burnette-Dean

I have always found it so interesting when folks who are not from this area of Virginia "mispronounce" certain words.  For instance, most folks would pronounce "Buena Vista" the way that you would say it in Spanish.  Of course, if you live in this area, you say "Bue-na Vis-ta."  "Staunton" is pronounced "Stant-un." "Wytheville" is pronounced "With-ville." I recently heard "Raleigh" pronounced "Rally" by two of my co-workers.  I have always heard it pronounced "Ra-lee." Of course, there are many others.

What are some that you have heard of?

The following is taken from: Word Book of Virginia Folk Speech by Bennett Wood Green, 1899.

SPELT                                                CALLED

Botetourt                                              Bot' etot
Fontaine                                               Foun' tain, Fon' tin
Gloucester                                           Glaw' ster
Goode                                                 Gude
Gravely                                                Grav' elly
Lawrence                                             Lar' ance
Maury                                                   Mur' ry
Patrick                                                  Part' rick
Napier                                                  Nap' per
Sclater                                                 Slaugh' ter, Slater
Sinclair                                                 Sink' ler
Taliaferro                                              Tol' iver
Urquhart                                               Urk' art
Woodward                                            Wood' ard
Wyatt                                                    Wait
Yates                                                    Yeates
Yeardley                                               Yard' ly       

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 


  1. The Warwick Road that brought settlers from the east has a silent w (the second one).

    I've always wondered how to correctly pronounce Cahas Mountain—I've heard Caw-hays, K-hoss, K-hays and a bunch of others. Which is it?

    1. I have always heard and said K-hoss. But it could be one of those that folks from different areas say differently.

  2. In far Southwest Virginia, Dante is pronounced dant with a short a.

    1. My husband grew up in that area and he took great pleasure in poking fun at me for pronouncing it like the author!

  3. Great post! I say most of the ones on your list like the 'called' column-and I say Rally too : )

    1. I just love all of the different ways that we pronounce things! One of my fears is that eventually we are all going to sound the same. It would be so sad to lose all of that "flavor!"


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