Bangor. You’re Saying It Wrong

 

Even if you’re not from New England, you’ve probably heard of Bangor, Maine. You might even think you know how to pronounce it, but you probably don’t. When my wife was in grad school on the West Coast a theater professor corrected her pronunciation of Bangor. “It’s pronounced Bang-er,” this know-nothing academic said, probably with a fake Oxford accent, while drinking tea. And definitely while wearing some stupid reading glasses perched on the tip of her nose, you know the kind, with the chain around the back of her neck. She was probably wearing a cardigan, too, even though it was Southern California. I don’t know; I wasn’t there. I’m just guessing.

The only problem with this declaration of pronunciational certitude was that my wife grew up in Bangor, and, no, it is not pronounced “Bang-er,” or “Bang-ah,” or anything other than “Bangor,” whether or not Johnny Cash has been there (or everywhere, man). Roger Miller may be the king of the road, but his midnight train’s destination is Bangor, Maine.

On the most recent episode of his Behind the Blue Wall podcast here at Ricochet, Michael Graham says, “The fact is that to succeed fiscally you need more competitive skills now than ever because there are more competitors in the world than ever, more people have access to education and technology so that they can compete with you from wherever they are, in Bangalore or Bangladesh or Bang-er, Maine. Well, maybe not Bang-er, Maine.” Yeah, because there’s no such place as Bang-er, Maine, Michael “Gray-ham.” (Wait, that’s pretty much how you pronounce his name… “Gram!” “Gr-Hamm.”)  Look, all you have to do is say “Bangalore.” Now remove the “al” from the middle of the word: “Bangore.”

It takes some real moxie to pass yourself off as a New Englander, Michael Hamburger, when you probably can’t even pronounce “Piscataqua.” Mattamiscontis? Kancamagus? Do you even like Moxie?!

Well, Do You?!

OK, try pronouncing these New England place names:

  • Coos (“Co-oss”)
  • Bowdoin (“Bow-Din”)
  • Calais (“Calous”)
  • Berlin (“BER-lin” not “ber-LIN”)
  • Meduxnekeag (Look, it doesn’t matter if I know how to pronounce it, let’s get back to making fun of Michael.)

Remember, it’s only embarrassing if you can’t pronounce New England names. It’s totally understandable and excusable to mispronounce weird names from other parts of the country. Like, Nevada. I never did figure that one out.

Check out Michael’s podcast, “Behind the Blue Whale,” every week here at the Ricochet Audio Network. (Subscribe on iTunes!)

There are 61 comments.

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  1. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Am-erst MA.

    They need a song.

    • #1
  2. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Love that video. Pretty good singing. :-) All that snow–they have time to practice. :-)

     

    • #2
  3. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    MarciN (View Comment):

    All that snow–they have time to practice. :-)

     

    That was shot last week, too! ;-)

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    It’s very well done. It will be a great PR piece! 

    • #4
  5. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I must be in a bubble.  I’ve heard way more people mispronounce Amherst (see above), and mangle Worcester and Gloucester, than say Banger.  But the video is VG.

    • #5
  6. James Hageman Moderator
    James Hageman
    @JamesHageman

    I will forever put the accent on the second syllable now.

    • #6
  7. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    The only reason I knew Bangor, ME existed (until our son considered attending the University of Maine) was that in the early 1980’s Mrs. Tabby and I were on a [charter] airline flight that had to make an unscheduled refueling stop in Bangor on a flight from London (UK) to Los Angeles, California.  

    • #7
  8. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Great video and amazingly, I have always pronounced it correctly.  Go figure.

    Georgia:   Houston = House-ton,   Cairo = Kay-ro,   Albany = All-benny

    Kentucky: Pennyroyal = Penny-rile,   Versailles = Ver-sales

    Texas:  Bexar = Bear

    • #8
  9. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Love, love, LOVE it!

    Now, how about one for pronouncing Oregon correctly?

     

    • #9
  10. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Bangor is actually pronounced as follows BANG goah.  The R is replaced with a very slight short “ah” sound.  Here are a few more for you:

    Haverhill  (HAV (long “a”) rill

    Peabody Pee bid dee

    Portland POaht lin

    Gloucester  GLOSS stah

    Worchester WUSS stah

    Bar Harbor BAH HAH ba

    Kennebunkport ken-ee-bunk-poaht

    Salisbury  SALLS bree

    Concord Kon kid

    (I can keep this up all day…)

     

    • #10
  11. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Third boxcar, midnight train, Destination…Bangor, Maine.

    • #11
  12. Hank Rhody, Probably Mad Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Probably Mad
    @HankRhody

    Max Ledoux: Roger Miller may be the king of the road, but his midnight train’s destination is Bangor, Maine.

    Seeing as the only time I find myself needing to reference the town in question is when I’m quoting Mr. Miller I think I’ll stick with his version. It doesn’t do to edit spelling errors out of direct quotes either.

    • #12
  13. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    EB (View Comment):
    Texas: Bexar = Bear

    That’s Bay-are – Long a on the first syllable, accent on the first syllable. Otherwise the cop give you a ticket ’cause you’re not a local.

    • #13
  14. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):
    Texas: Bexar = Bear

    That’s Bay-are – Long a on the first syllable, accent on the first syllable. Otherwise the cop give you a ticket ’cause you’re not a local.

    And Tab cola is TIE-up. I just about got myself arrested over misunderstanding Texan on that one.

    How the hell y’all get two syllables out of a three letter word is some kinda magic.

    • #14
  15. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    Bangor is actually pronounced as follows BANG goah. The R is replaced with a very slight short “ah” sound.

    🤦‍♂️

    • #15
  16. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    We get it here in the Puget Sound area because we also have a submarine base (Bremerton, WA), so that other one occasionally enters into conversation.

    Two of the most widely mispronounced cities around here are Puyallup and Des Moines.

    • #16
  17. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    There’s a Des Moines, WA?

    • #17
  18. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):

    There’s a Des Moines, WA?

    Yeah (pronounced damoynz).

    • #18
  19. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    rico (View Comment):

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):

    There’s a Des Moines, WA?

    Yeah (pronounced damoynz).

    Ah. At first I was going to scoff, but I guess that’s kind of like how we pronounce Calais here.

    • #19
  20. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    So… “pile up”?

    • #20
  21. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    I was happy to see your post.

    In 1967, I took a job at the Unversity of Maine (Orono).  On our way to Maine from Oregon, I was telling my wife that the pronunciation of Bangor  is certainly Bang-er (accent on first syllable).

    At the time, I had a Master’s Degree with a specialization in linguistics.  So I was a bit smart alecky about the whole thing.  

    My wife Marie was smugly pleased, when we got to Maine, that the pronunciation, as you say, is Bangor (with the accent on the second syllable). 

    I bet you don’t know how to pronounce Willamette and Oregon.  I hear those two words mispronounced all the time.

    • #21
  22. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    Bangor? I barely knew her!

    • #22
  23. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Maxala,

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Just one thing. Is Bangor in Maine or New Hampshire? Just Kidding!!!!

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #23
  24. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):

    So… “pile up”?

     

    • #24
  25. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Three more:   I used to live in Murray, Kentucky, and there were three nearby towns—Athens, KY,  Cairo, IL, and Versailles KY—that almost everyone mispronounces. 

    Betcha ya donut know how they are pronounced. 

    • #25
  26. Jason Rudert Member
    Jason Rudert
    @JasonRudert

    Okay, smart guy:

    Hurricane, Utah

    Eureka, Utah

    Tooele, Utah

    Moab, Utah

    Oquirrh Mountains

     

    • #26
  27. Jason Rudert Member
    Jason Rudert
    @JasonRudert

    Oh, and it’s:

    OR’gun

    n’VADD-uh

    kahl’RADD-oh

    air’ZONE-uh

    EYE’ho

     

    • #27
  28. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    I think you either know ‘King of the Road’ or you don’t. 

    • #28
  29. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Jason Rudert (View Comment):
    EYE’ho

    ….Iowa?

    Jason Rudert (View Comment):

    Okay, smart guy:

    Hurricane, Utah

     

    Eureka, Utah

    Eur-ee-ka?

    Tooele, Utah

    Two-lee?

    Moab, Utah

    Mo-Ab?

    Oquirrh Mountains

    Okre?

     

    • #29
  30. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    There is a Bangor in Northern Ireland which, as John Derbyshire reminds us, is indeed pronounced BANG-her.  The joke to which #22 (above) refers has a newly married fellow taking his bride there on their wedding night.  You can figure the rest.

    • #30

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