Like the concentric circles of a stone tossed in a pond, my problem extends way beyond myself. There are place names with either incorrect spelling or incorrect pronunciation. But instead of saying “listen to yourself,” I mentally roll my eyes and suck it up.
There is a lovely town in southwestern Ohio, Bellfontaine. Pronounced Bell-fountain. They claim it’s “Americanized.” That’s fifty percent accurate. The spelling hasn’t been touched. A Bellfonte, in Pennsylvania, completely disregards the e.
Back in Ohio, again in the southwest, is a town called LaFeet. One wonders how the citizens can write LaFayette as their return address. Over in Fort Lar-me, Laramie goes in the return address.
Then in central Ohio, in Holmes county, we have Berlin, named both for Germany’s Berlin and for Berlin, Pennsylvania, the other former home of founding settlers. If you ask directions to the Ber-LIN hardware store, you may be immediately corrected: BER-lin, or told BER-lin hardware is two blocks down. To their credit, there is a local story given out the pronunciation changed during World War II. Be that as it may, there are probably only 5,000 people responding BER-lin when a million visitors a year to Amish country say Ber-LIN. When do you give it up?
It’s quite understandable that brand new local newscasters twist their tongues around some local names. We know the next time they have to say Tuscarawas, someone will have set them straight. I actually applaud the newbie who goes straight for the French in Portage.
And, speaking of those sadly mangled French and Indian names, I had the wonderful idea to look up my Harry Potter house in Versailles, Indiana on Google Earth and get a screen shot to show you. A little house of turrets. Maybe they made it of an old silo.
I was there only ten years ago. And now it’s the Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning and Development Offices. At least they built a reasonably non-governmental looking building.