I love this email exchange from 2013. You mad, bro? Yeah, she mad.
From: Patricia Houtchens [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, March 03, 2013 11:08 AM
To: MEINERS, TERRY A
Subject: Listener Email from www.whas.com
I guess you’re celebrating another example of the homogenization of local dialects: LINK
After you finally get everyone to stop calling the city where they were born, Louavull, then you can go to Narlens and tell those folks how stupid they sound because they don’t pronounce/enunciate their city’s name like you do. I find it so hypocritical that you never cease to tell your audience that we all should celebrate our differences – homosexuals/heterosexuals, democrats/republicans, U of L/U of K, whatever, but you have no tolerance for those of us who perpetuate their Southern dialect because it’s not how YOU say it. One of the reasons I love taking road trips is that it gives me the opportunity to listen to the local dialects – I LOVE that Southerners don’t sound like Canooks nor New Englanders nor Mid Westerners… Maybe you should relocate to California or wherever – somewhere everyone sounds like you do – alike, bland, boring. As for me, I’m PROUD that our local pronunciation of our city makes us distinctly “Louavillians.”
From: MEINERS, TERRY A
Sent: Sunday, March 03, 2013 10:23 PM
To: Patricia Houtchens
Cc: MEINERS, TERRY A
Subject: RE: Listener Email from www.whas.com
You’re not paying attention. I only laugh at professional broadcasters who come on the air and give the Southern “Lou-uh-vull” pronunciation. Did you hear any professional broadcasters in New Orleans come on the air and say “Nawlins?” No, you didn’t. They’re professional speakers, not colorful locals.
I find it hypocritical for people who enunciate their words for a living somehow wanting to “respect the locals” by dumbing down their skills to patronize the locals and say “Lou-uh-vul.” Yet they don’t seem to respect the locals enough to say “Shah-vlee.” Somehow they use their elocution skills to say SHY-vlee. See the diff?
By the way, you trumped your own logic in your last sentence. If it’s “Lou-uh-vull” to you, how can you recite the same letters differently when you say “LouaVILLians?” Shouldn’t you call us LouaVULLuns?
The nickname is The Ville, not The Vull.
That horrible tornado slammed into…where? Henryville.
Poser broadcasters aside, 100% of the population seems to know how to pronounce Taylorsville Road, Shelbyville Road, Simpsonville, Clarksville, Jeffersonville, Evansville, and a litany of other villes.
I like calling out my colleagues on their phoniness. Don’t vilify me.
A Southern accent is charming but professionally limiting to most people in the speaking arts. Would Jennifer Lawrence receive the same film roles if she talks like Turtle Man?
Most of America is condescending toward those with a Southern accent, and guys like Larry The Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy exploit that mockery to make a living. In the end, they are monetizing the rest of America’s bias.
SAY MY NAME, SAY MY NAME
Louisville: Where our name is a multiple choice.
By Terry Meiners
Updated September 11, 2010
Originally published July 26, 2004
Louisville, Ky. — Everyone here agrees that this city’s nickname is pronounced “The Ville.” So how is it that so many people call the complete name Loo-uh-VULL? More than half of the area’s residents call this city by its hillbilly name. Some even dumb it down to the lowest of lows and mumble LUH-vll.
Funny how no one says EVANS-vull. It is universally called Evansville. Same goes for Clarksville. Simpsonville. Jeffersonville.
There is no vull or any other bull. They’re villes.
Everyone in town correctly hits the “ville” in both Taylorsville Road and Shelbyville Road.
When some yokel mealy-mouths the name of LOO-uh-vull, it is simply a case of slurred speech. The listener is getting a country boy’s twang on a defined set of syllables.
How hard is it to say Louisville? Louie + ville = Louisville.
The city is named for King Louis XVI of France. Louis (in French) = Louie. And don’t say that you don’t use French terms. Ever used the words rendezvous, champagne, or Chevrolet? You didn’t Americanize those words to say ren-DEZ-vows, cham-PAG-nee, or chev-row-LET, so you adjusted to French pronunciations.
For anyone who contends that L-o-u-i-s is pronounced LOO-uh, please explain why no one calls the Missouri city with the arch Saint LOO-uh. Lou-uh-vull people refer to neighboring cities as “Innu-napliss” and “Cin-su-nadda,” alien pronunciations in those actual cities.
The first half of our city’s name is pronounced Louie. The same mushmouth that produces LOO-uh-vull usually spits out other hillbilly staples like VEE-hick-el, ADD-dress, DEE-tails, and IN-shurnce.
As for the second half of Louisville’s name, when would the letters v-i-l-l-e ever sound any different than VILLE?
The front of your car has a grille, not a grull. A doctor prescribes a pill, not a pull. Darth Vader is a villain, not a VULL-in.
No one speaks of our population as Loo-uh-VULL-uns; we’re Louie-VILL-yans. The city’s nickname is The Ville, not The Vull.
Louisville’s inability to enunciate its own name stems partly from a lack of leadership. Greater Louisville, Inc. surrendered long ago by touting a list of 5 different pronunciations of the city’s name, followed by the cop-out slogan “Your kind of place, any way you say it.”
It’s the broadcasters that are perplexing on this issue. They are professional announcers who prize their pronunciation and elocution skills, yet a majority of local broadcasters dumb down their skills and mimic locals by saying Loo-uh-vull. Oddly, they don’t similarly patronize the residents of Shively and Highview by imitating the southern pronunciations of their communities. (HAH-view and SHAH-vlee).
Let’s separate the posers from the precisers:
Broadcasters who cave in and say LOO-uh-vull include Rachel Platt, David Scott, Elizabeth Woolsey, Claudia Coffey, Andy Treinan, Monty Webb, Melissa Swan, Tony Cruise, Matt Hobbs, Scott Reynolds, John Belski, and Dawne Gee. Since they’re in the business of speaking clearly, it must be assumed that they’re “reaching out to the regular guy” by dumbing down their own skills.
The LOUIE-ville proponents include John Boel, Renee Murphy, Barry Bernson, Mandy Connell, Candyce Clifft, Lindsay Allen, Jennifer Baileys, Fred Cowgill, Bob Domine, Vicki Dortch, Kevin Harned, and Terry Meiners. We’re in the business of speaking clearly, too, but give the regular guy enough credit to know he understands us.
Most national correspondents opt for the elocution-driven LOUIE-ville, although some sports announcers come to town and quickly adopt the hillbilly version to placate the unwashed.
Louisville seems to be unique in its ability to crush newcomers into talking hillbilly. Notice that professional broadcasters in New Orleans, Boston, New York, and Norfolk do not patronize their local viewers by saying “Nawlins, Bah-stun, Nu Yawk, and NOF-fuk” on the air.
They’re professional broadcasters, not disingenuous posers.
Say my name, broadcasters. It’s Louie-ville.
The most laughable display of Poser Broadcasting is on WVEZ-FM, which broadcasts a professional jingle with people singing “Loo-uh-VULLLLL!” The gifted singers (whose #1 talent is to crisply enunciate every single syllable) are directed to intentionally slur a station identification jingle.
Any playlist of songs with Louisville references are mostly of the LOUIE-ville variety. Willie Nelson’s “8 More Miles to Louisville,” Rick Bartlett’s “Louisville, KY,” and Hazel Miller’s “Look What We Can Do, Louisville,” come to mind. A few hip-hop raps from recent years use “LOO-vull.”
A Southern accent is beautiful when it melts the corners of elegant words. But Louisville is a particular set of standard sounds. LOUIE + ville. Enough of the Dukes of Hazard pronunciation of Louisville, let’s treat our great city with a loud and proud correct name. LOUIE-ville.
I revisited this previously published column after reading this piece on the editorial page of The Courier-Journal:
September 11, 2010 Forum flashes: Good moves, bad moves
What’s in a name?
“You like potato, I like potahto …” So wrote the Gershwin brothers about the funny way people can take the same word but pronounce it differently. There were many others: Tomato, tomahto; oyster, erster; bananas, banahnas; Havana, Havahnah …”
They could have added the word Louisville to their list.
This endless debate — is it Lou-ah-vul, or Lou-ee-ville, or Louise-ville — has been going on since the settlers pitched tents near the Falls of the Ohio. But by 97 years ago, it had become enough of a dispute that someone named W.A. Gunn of Lexington sent a letter to the Filson Historical Society noting “most people [call] it Louisville, English style, but many [give] it the French accent with ‘s’ silent.” He asked the group to discuss the matter and decide which was proper. On July 30, 1913, in a response, the society, then known as the Filson “club,” announced that they preferred “Looevill.”
We’ll say “potahto.”