Reader: The person who told Rachel Maddow how to pronounce "Colorado" was wrong

Maddow.
In a post yesterday, we shared a clip of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in which a viewer argued that "Colorado" should be pronounced "colo-RAD-o," not "colo-ROD-o," which, in her opinion, makes the speaker sound snobby.

We gave this guideline a "Hell, yeah" -- but one of our reader's didn't.

Harvey writes:

Its etymology is spanish... "colo rod o". Anyone who pronounces it "colo RAD o", is stupid.

And that goes for those who pronounce Pueblo-"Pyeblo" and Buena Vista-"Byoona Vista" too. You're stupid.

For more memorable takes, visit our Comment of the Day archive.

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21 comments
aaronthebox
aaronthebox

Ok, let me clear something up for a lot of uneducated people on here.  The pronunciation of names, whether of people or states, can be a choice if people decide they want to break grammatical rules.  So, if you think Colorado should be pronounced "Collar-ad-oh," fine.  However, grammatically inaccurate as it pertains to English.


As far as a claim below that the correct pronunciation of a place's name is based on the way the people who live in that place pronounce it is actually even more ignorant and absurd, sorry to say.  For, while people, again, can decide to pronounce names however they would like to and have that freedom, a$$erting that the correct pronunciation of something is based on any group of people and their opinions, regardless of where they live and not based on proper grammar is specifically saying that it doesn't come down to personal preference but that there is an actual established rule to dictate how the name of something or someone must be pronounced, which is ridiculous.

wethepeople
wethepeople

This country is in 'crisis mode" and a bunch of people are concerned about an indiviuduals pronunciation ? Where is the priority? However, these may be "tea party people" ! No real intellect !

DenverScener
DenverScener

As aNative of Denver I always thought that only outsiders said "colo-rad-o" , it seemed like people from back east or the midwest would butcher the proper name of "colo-rod-o" . However, I do agree that is is proper Colorado tradition to butcher the names buena vista (buuna vista) and la junta (la hunta).

So is it a Denver thing to say "colo-rod-o" and a southern part of the state thing to say "colo-rad-o"?? Would love westword to put this to bed!!! Oh and tell Maddow to keep our good name out of her mouth!!!

Jon S
Jon S

As any native knows, it's 100% "colo RAD o", and Harvey is an idiot if he can't recognize that much like people, places have names that are correctly pronounced the way the nameholder (or locals) pronounce it.

I also find it absurd that in the US everyone gets all elite about names derived from Spanish, but have no problems with anglicized names from other languages. Hell, I'm sure Harvey doesn't have the slightest clue how to pronounce other cities throughout the world in the native languages. I lived in Moscow for over a year, but I don't go around calling people idiots because they say "Moscow" instead of "Moskva". Why? Because Moscow is the English version of the name.

So Harvey, unless you go around pronouncing places like Munich, Beijing, and Finland with their native pronunciations, you need to just STFU.

James Greenlee
James Greenlee

The country of origin of a place name isn't necessarily the best way to determine pronunciation. The best way is to go by what the residents call it. Nevada may be originally spanish, but the locals pronounce it Nehv-ADD-uh, not Nuhv-ODD-uh. Bellefontaine, Ohio is pronounced "Bell Fountain," no matter how the French might say it. New Madrid is "New MAD-rid", not "New Muh-DRID." Lima, Ohio is LIE-muh, not LEE-muh. As for Colorado, I'm sticking with my Nevada example, and putting an ADD in there.

Guest
Guest

Written language has caused the white people who migrated west to pronounce cities and other proper names in colorado and other western states incorrectly. The fact that the majority of caucasians continue to mis-pronounce names of spanish origin, while those of spanish decent continue to pronounce names as they have been historically just shows how divided the spanish and american cultures are in the usa. ....passing laws making the legal pronunciation to match phonetics...now that, imo, is ignorance (byoona vista). Say it how you want...but when it was named... it wasn't called byoona vista or coloRADo....cultural and language barriers caused this problem.

Kendra
Kendra

I was born and raised in this state, and I have always known it as Colo-rod-o. Maybe it has to do with growing up in a hispanic neighborhood?

rain
rain

"Harvey", of course, is pronounced "Throatwarbler Mangrove".

Andrew
Andrew

The purpose of language is to convey ideas. If one person pronounces Colorado as "colo-rod-o", and another as "colo-rad-o", as long as we all understand what is being referred to, who really cares? Message received either way. Yeah, Pueblo pronounced as "pwee-blow" or "pyeblo"sounds funny and likely the person who says it like has not lived in Colorado for long, but is the person "stupid" as Harvey so proudly proclaims? Hardly, Harvey.

aaronthebox
aaronthebox

@DenverScener Your good name?  What a joke.  Especially since this is the state that recalled its two senators because they voted in favor of people having to go through a background check in order to purchase a firearm.  Apparently in Colorado, people think you should be able to buy guns from a bin at the dollar store or at a mall kiosk.  What's even more absurd is, 76% of republicans in the nation, at the time, supported background checks for the purchases of guns.  These Colorado republicans voted in line with what the actual members of their party support, not what the politicians running the party support.


If anything, you should feel only so blessed that Rachel Maddow, who knows more about pronouncing your state's name that most people from Colorado (because she is in fact, technically, a genius, as well as a highly educated Rhodes Scholar), would even talk about such an insignificant state.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

I don't know that we can definitively solve this mystery, DenverScener. But regarding La Junta, the way Sandra Bullock pronounces it in "The Net" almost makes that lousy movie worth watching. Operative word: almost. Thanks for posting.

Robert
Robert

"As any native knows, it's 100% "colo RAD o"" -- I suggest that you consult people who live in Antonito, San Luis, Alamosa, or any of the other places settled by Spanish-speakers before advancing so categorical a claim. I am sure that there were many more enthusiastic Anglo correctors 100 years ago.

aaronthebox
aaronthebox

@James Greenlee Totally untrue.  The English pronunciation of words is based on very simple proper grammar.  How the people of a place pronounce the name of the place they reside carries no weight in whether they are right about its pronunciation and is no different in the way people who pronounce their names incorrectly and in contradiction to actual English grammar.


I understand that for people of average intellect want to believe the English language doesn't make much sense and that what they call "exceptions to rules" are all just comments on these peoples' insecurity about their lack of education of the English language.


For example, how do you think that these children at spelling bees are so skilled at spelling words that the average American citizen cannot?  Do you think these children actually just memorize each and every word in the language?  Of course not.  This is why you end up seeing so many children spelling words that they have never even heard of correctly despite 90% of adults not knowing how to.


How are they capable of this?  Well, what they actually do is identify the origin of the word, establish what its root is, and then simply follow the complicated but consistent rules that apply to English grammar.


So, while people can pronounce names however they like, that does not mean they are truly pronouncing them right as it pertains to the spelling.  Sorry to burst your bubble. 

Robert
Robert

Several comments made in response to both posts expressing animus against anglicized pronunciation likely instantiate the predjudices of liberal immigrants, among whom I count myself. As we come to outnumber natives, we can pronounce placenames however we want. I am glad that our heritage of Hispanic settlement of the San Luis Valley and elsewhere in southern Colorado makes it acceptable to say something other than "Caw-luh-RAD-o". I might have a problem in "Neh-VA-da" (and note how what in English is described as a "short a" and is indicated by a set of inconsistent rules is, especially as sharpened by many US speakers, absent from Spanish, in which "A" is consistently pronounced "ah" -- anglophones are not going to adapt Spanish orthography to simplify English, ever, so Spanish placenames further challenge speakers who have not studied a Romance language).

aaronthebox
aaronthebox

@Guest You are absolutely right "Guest."  However, Robert, you are wrong once again.  There are actual rules to the English language as I described in the comment above and just because you do not know them and do not understand how the origin of the word plays into this, doesn't mean pronunciation of things are a matter of opinion.  You, like most US Americans (which is what I am as well), are simply undereducated when it comes to the English language and from what I have found is that most uneducated people who do not know the actual facts always fall back to a "its a matter of opinion" argument.  Very silly.

Robert
Robert

What constitutes mispronunciation is determined in the mind of the listener. In the instance you cite, of regions where hispanophones pioneered, and their descendants remain, I favor use of the Spanish pronunication, but no useful purpose is served by attempting to dictate pronunciation to speakers (and could get your ass kicked). You are wrong about Buena Vista: it WAS called "Byoona Vista"; the town was NOT named by hispanophones.

aaronthebox
aaronthebox

@Kendra Maybe?  However, the spelling of the word Colorado cannot be interpreted to be pronounced in any other way than what you said, which is "Colo-rod-oh."  Of course, people can pronounce names of places or people however they wish, but that doesn't mean its grammatically accurate.

aaronthebox
aaronthebox

@Andrew Agreed.  And in fact, this is the most intelligent comment I have seen posted.  People have become far too annoying when it comes to people whining about spelling and pronunciation.  The meaning of education is to get your point across, and, as you said, if their point can be conveyed accurately, then how they spell a word really is irrelevant.


However, I will add, as you may see in some of the posts above, there are actual rules in the English language that apply to the spelling of words and while people may be pronouncing a word, place or name incorrectly from a grammatical viewpoint is really a petty thing for people to attack other people over, especially as you said, if what the message the person is trying to communicate is understood.

Jon S
Jon S

I grew up near those areas, in the Wet Mountain valley. Yes, in the San Luis Valley people nearly universally say colo Rad oh just like the rest of the state, regardless of ethnic background. There are families that have lived in Southern Colorado for centuries, and I have always heard them adopt the local pronunciation of "colo Rad o". Just like if you go to La Junta. Try claiming that it is "La hoonta" instead of "la hunta" to any of the long time Hispanic residents. They will look at you like you are really weird. Why? Because the name of the town is "la hunta", even if the correct Spanish pronunciation of the phrase is "la hoonta". Ethnic background doesn't matter, people have adopted the anglicized pronunciation over time and it is quite universally agreed upon nowadays.

If you are speaking Spanish, then yes, you should absolutely say "colo Rod o". It would be stupid to use the anglicized pronunciation. But if speaking English, it is "colo RAD o", as that is the way the locals say it.

aaronthebox
aaronthebox

@Jon S Wrong.  I am sorry that you are not educated in the English language and proper grammar, but Colorado is, in English, accurately pronounced Collar-ah-doh.  In order for Colorado to be pronounced "collar-AD-oh" it would have to be spelled Collorado. 


Now, I understand the English language is very complicated for people of an average IQ and is much more difficult to understand than a language like Spanish or French, but it doesn't mean that the English language doesn't make sense.  In fact, I have never had a problem spelling almost any word.


Let me ask you, how do you think these children who participate in spelling bees know how to spell so much better than adults?  I'll tell you.  It is because there are actual rules to how things in English are pronounced based on its spelling.


And while some people probably think the reason these children know how to spell is based on memorization, that is not the case at all.  If you ever watch any of them, you will realize that these children can spell words they have never even heard of in their life, but can do so by comprehending the basis and standards on which the English language was established.


Yes, its something that typically requires a superior intellect and therefore, people who cannot spell try to fall back on an accusation that the English language makes no sense and has no real grammatical rules in order to make themselves feel better.

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