Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Pronunciation Guide for the Malheur Stand-off

As a native of Malheur County neighbor to Harney County, I think I have a right and an obligation to provide a pronunciation guide for outsiders. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard when the news reporters and others get things wrong.

First of all, Oregon hasn't "gone" anywhere. Westerners, by ironic twist of linguistics, pronounce it more like ORE-reh-gun. The last vowel is actually a schwa or phonetically "ə."

Malheur always used to trip me up in spelling as I'm not a French expert. Yet I don't think the local pronunciation is real good French either. The "h" is not silent. I've always heard it as something like Mal-HYER.

And don't get me started with "Boise." It's an "s" not a "z," People!

Then there's the names of the armed occupiers of the Wildlife Refuge. Regretably, several, not all, are right-wing-fringe Mormons and a couple have names from the Book of Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a strong condemnation of their armed occupation this week. But this is still necessary:

Ammon is a Book of Mormon Missionary/Tough Guy who defended the king's flocks with a sword famously cutting off the arms of the robbers which were taken back (the arms) by the other servants to the king in a sack. Ammon, tried to play down his heroism explaining that he was only in service to the king. And that was enough to impress the king to listen to his missionary message. There's no follow-up on the now armless sheep (alpaca?) rustlers. The pronunciation is A-(as in "and")-muhn (not A as in "anxious.") I even heard one commentator pronounce it as "Almond."

Captain Moroni was a zealous military leader often held up as a paragon of patriotism although he once made the classic mistake of blaming the government for lack of patriotic support and military supplies (snacks?) later repenting of his zealous condemnation when he realized the rightful government had been taken over by armed insurgents (yes, that's the real story!). Oh, and I almost forgot, "Moroni" is pronounced "Muh-RONE-eye," not as it would be in the Italian.

I have no explanation for the names "LaVoy" or "Cliven."

And that's about all I can help with on this front.

Oh, one more. Easterners, please, it's "Neh-VADD-uh" not the more Spanish "Ne-VAHD- uh." I know it's a Spanish word that means "snowy" but that just doesn't fit for most of the desert state.

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