Thursday, April 27, 2006

There Is No "E" in Wisconsin

If there’s one thing immensely irritating about watching sports presentations, it’s the constant mispronunciation of my fair state, as perpetrated by the female commentator during the recent Women’s NCAA hockey championship and countless football announcers.

NEWSFLASH: There is no “E” in Wisconsin, and the accent is on the second syllable, not the first. Or as my sister is fond of telling people, “It’s wis, as in Swiss cheese. Wis-KAHN-sin”

She sent me an interesting link today to a article, “Cheese Heads speak up: it’s Wis-KAHN-sen.” It seems that, tired of constant mispronunciations of state cities and characters by tourists and professionals alike, Capitol radio reporter Jackie Johnson has created a website,, on how to properly say all things Wisconsin. Just click on a button for the correct pronunciations of places and people, with some names recorded by the people themselves, such as Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Congressman David Obey (bet you just pronounced HIS name wrong, too!), and US Senator Russ Feingold.

According to a Wisconsin State Journal article linked from Johnson’s home page, although there is an Associated Press guide on how to pronounce place names, it is often incorrect and leads to great embarrassment for non-native news reporters. It’s not only the French and Native American names that throw people off -- it’s the seemingly innocuous ones like the towns of Rio (RYE-oh) and Theresa (tuh-RESS-uh), not to mention our Green BAY quarterback, Brett Favre (FARV). And then there's Madison Mayor, Dave Cieslewicz. There’s a reason we usually refer to him as “Mayor Dave.”

So next time you’re stymied over the correct way to say a Wisconsin name or geographical location, click on over to to find out how it’s properly pronounced. And remember -- nothing upsets a native Wisconsinite more than the mispronunciation of the dairy state. As Johnson says on her website, please slap anyone who says “WES-con-sin.”

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