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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?!
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!)