Steve and I had some interesting interpersonal experiences on our southern driving trip last week. You can read one on Steve’s Speaker Stories blog at http://speakerstories.wordpress.com.
En route from Savannah to Charleston last week, we stopped in the quaint South Carolina town of Beaufort.
Before arriving there, we had discussed the possible pronunciations, and I’d persuaded Steve it was pronounced “boh-fort.”
We were making a purchase in a nice shop there, and Steve, known as a great questioner, said, “Has the recent article in Southern Living brought more business to Beaufort?”
Fixing him with a stern eye, she said, “It’s pronounced “byoo-fort.”
“Sorry,” I said quickly. “That’s my fault. I thought I’d heard it pronounced ‘boh-fort.’”
“There is a town in North Carolina with the same spelling, and it is pronounced ‘boh-fort,’’ she said.
Steve, trying to clarify, said, “So in North Carolina, it’s ‘boh-fort,’ and in South Carolina, it’s ‘byoo-fort.’”
“No!” she corrected. “Whether you are in North Carolina or South Carolina, our town is still ‘byoo-fort.’ Whether you are in North Carolina or South Carolina, their town is still ‘boh-fort.’”
We looked at each other. Why had she said “no” when we thought we’d understood? So Steve tried again with the same results.
Finally, we said, “Okay! Thanks for straightening us out on that,” and hurried away.
Sometimes it’s best to give in and move on. At least now we know—and you know—the correct pronunciation in each town.
That prompted us to discuss other towns that have different pronunciations depending on the location. We know that Versailles in Kentucky and Indiana is not pronounced as Versailles in France. La-FAY-ette, Tennessee, and La-fay-ETTE, Indiana, are easily distinguished.
What other towns do you know that are spelled the same but pronounced differently depending on the location? (To respond, click on the title of the post and you’ll be taken to the page for comments. Thanks for contributing!)