Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's Spelled Worcester, Not Wooster

I had a meeting in work yesterday with a coworker in NY and four consultants who were also based in NYC.  We were reviewing an Excel spreadsheet of upcoming company events and a line item leapt out at me. It was labeled as the "Wooster" event.  I laughed out loud and told them while it was spelled correctly phonetically, the town was really spelled Worcester.

That sparked a response of "Oh! I thought I had seen it spelled differently somewhere else" and "Massachusetts has a lot of towns that are hard to pronounce correctly."  And somehow, I was asked if I could provide a list of the most commonly misspelled/mispronounced towns. Although I told them there was no official company list (one of them actually asked me that), I reassured them that I would do my best to create an ad hoc list. Mind you, I did tell them that I wasn't sure if I was up to the task as someone who grew up overseas and didn't grow up hearing all of these town names (although Worcester was one my dad used to tell us about as a classic example of how things were pronounced in MA).

Scrounging around the Internet, this is the list I came up with:

Worcester, MA - pronounced "WUSS-tuh"

Gloucester, MA - GLAWSS-tuh
Leominster, MA - LEM-in-stuh
Concord- KAWNK-id 
Quincy, MA - KWIN-zee
Woburn, MA - WOO-bin
Peabody, MA - PEE-b'dee
Reading, MA - RED-ing
Dracut, MA - DRAY-kit
Leicester, MA - LESS-tuh
Haverhill, MA - HAYV-rill
Scituate, MA - SITCH-oo-it
Natick, MA - NAYD-ik
Lowell, MA - LOW-ull
Methuen, MA - Meh-THOO-in
Pembroke MA - PEM-brook
Stoughton, MA - STOAT-in
Billerica, MA - Bill-RICK-ah
Needham, MA - NEED-um
Framingham, MA - FRAY-ming-ham
Eastham, MA - EAST-ham
Chatham, MA - CHAD-um
Waltham, MA - WALL-tham
Wrentham, MA - REN-thum

Can you think of anything that's missing? I did leave Andrew's hometown of Plymouth off because I hope that most Americans would be familiar with the story of the first Thanksgiving and know better than to pronounce it Ply - mouth!

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