What’s in a name?
When Guy Rocha, assistant administrator for archives and records, recently had the courage to correct a national figure who mispronounced the name of our state, he became the target of morons who insist on the mispronunciation and would rather revel in their ignorance than accept a gentle critique.
So, by all means, let us set them straight.
Nevada, according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, is pronounced n - ‘vad . The dictionary goes on to say, “chiefly by outsiders, -'vä-".
There are those who claim n -'va-d is the correct Spanish pronunciation, but that’s incorrect as well. The correct Spanish pronunciation would have the ‘e’ sound that sounds like ‘ay,’ the Spanish ‘v’ sound that sounds like soft ‘b,’ the fricative ‘d’ sound that sounds like ‘th': Nay-bvah-thah.
It may be a new concept to those boors out there who would attack a simple public servant for doing his job, but there are many words with a variety of origins that have the same spelling but different pronunciations and different meanings, such as polish (shine) and Polish (the language). They’re called homonyms.
Is it possible that Nevada could be such a word? We could certainly enumerate the different words: the correct English pronunciation of the word that symbolizes the 36th state of the union is N -'va-d , and nay-bvah-thah is the pronunciation of the Spanish word for snow-capped. We could even have a third word: n -'vä -d is synonymous for “I’m ignorant.”
Does anybody correct the citizens of Nevada, Iowa, or Nevada, Mo., for saying “N -'vay-d “? No, they don’t because it’s the locals who get to decide how their city’s name is pronounced. The same is true for the inhabitants of the state of Nevada. Does anybody insist that Texas is pronounced Tay-häs? Is there a single Anglicized state name that is pronounced with the Spanish pronunciation? No. So why aren’t the politicians smart enough to get the name of our state right? Perhaps it’s because they don’t care a whole lot about the opinions of 2 million people.
OK, fine. This latest politician who visited our state and mispronounced the name wasn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. As reported in the original story that ran in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean both mispronounced the name.
This is an opportunity to remove a thorn from many sides in this state. If people like Guy Rocha keep up the pressure to force politicians who come to our state with their hands out for money to pronounce the state’s name correctly, maybe the newscasters on ABC, CBS and NBC will follow suit—not likely, but possible.
It’s a cliché that when visiting Rome, visitors should behave as the Romans do. It’s also certain that when visiting Rome to ask the Romans for money, smart people don’t call them Romäns.