Classical
5:54 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Pronouncing Iowa Place Names: An Audio Guide (updated)

To succeed in Iowa, presidential hopefuls need to clear all sorts of hurdles that are unique to politics. But one is familiar to every Iowan: saying our state's place names correctly. Some pronunciations are obvious from the spelling, like Atlantic or Ira, but others tend to trip up newbies. Louisa County? Not like my cousin's first name. Madrid? Not like the city in Spain. Nevada? Not like that state out west. You can’t take anything for granted. But you're not on your own: Iowa Public Radio has you covered. Below is our handy audio guide to pronouncing Iowa place names. How did these pronunciations attain their current forms? Long story - which we'll get to another time. Meanwhile, here's the list. NOTE: Thanks to digital technology, we can update any entry anytime. Are we making any mistakes? Let me know - we could even post YOUR voice up here! Got any other tricky Iowa pronunciations we should also include? Drop us a note! UPDATED Nov. 28th with your feedback, suggestions, and corrections - please keep 'em coming! We now have 44 pronunciations on the list!


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Allamakee : Al -uh-muh-KEY [NOTE: Al as in "Call Me Al"]

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Ayrshire: AIR- "sure" ["air" like the stuff we breathe; sure like the sher in "Sherman"]

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Buena Vista : BYOO-nuh VIH-stuh

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Camanche : cuh- MANCH

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Chariton : SHARE-ih-ton

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Charlotte: sharr- LOTT

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Chillicothe : chill-uh-KAW-thhee

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Churdan : shur-DAN

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Clermont : Clare - mont

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Clutier : clue - teer

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De Witt : Dee-witt (but some residents say it simply De Witt, with a schwa vowel in the first syllable)

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Delhi : DELL- high

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Dysart : DIE- zert

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Earlham: ERL-uhm

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East Peru: East Pee-roo

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Ely: EEE-lee

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Festina: Fes-TIE-nuh

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Guttenberg: GUTTin-burg

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Hopkinton: This one is under discussion! Many people have told me that natives say the second syllable without the "n" and with an accent on the first syllable - Hop-kitten - but when I call people in Hopkinton, they insist that there is some "n" sound in the second syllable. What's your view? Let us know!

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Iowa : EYE -o – wuh ... or EYE- uh-wuh.... or EYE -wuh. [Three syllables or two? I've heard all the above used by residents. Many of us use two syllables, but when an announcer says it that way on the radio it can lead to complaints. By the way, I've never personally heard a resident call the state Ioway, but that doesn't prove much. ]

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Keokuk: Residents pronounce it more than one way. Common options include KEE-uh-Kuck and  KYOH-kuck. Some residents include an "l" sound in the second syllable: KEE-uhl-kuck  and kee-UHL-kuck.

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Keosauqua : Residents differ, but the most common is kee-uh -SAH- kwuh. (But residents also report hearing kee-oh-SAH-kwuh, kee-uh-SAW-kwuh, and Kuh-saw-kwa.)

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Lamoni : Luh-MOE-ni [Last syllable like eye, the organ of sight]

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Loess Hills : Luss Hills

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Louisa  : Loo-EYE-za [Middle syllable like the organ of sight]

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Lowden : LOUD-in

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Madrid : MAA-drid

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Maquoketa : Muh-KOKE-uh-tuh

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Milan : MY  –laan (also heard: MY-lin)

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Monticello  : Mon-tih- SELL –o

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Moravia : More-RAY-vee-uh

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Nevada : neh -VAY –duh

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Ocheyedan: oh-CHEE-din

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Ossian: AW-shen or AH-shen

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Peoria: Residents say Peoria (like the town in Illlinois) - or PURE-ree or PEER-ree

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Quasqueton: Residents say either kwass-KWEE-ton or KWASS-kwih-Ton

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Rolfe: Rawlf (that is, one syllable)

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Sigourney : SIH-gurney

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Tama : TAY-muh

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Tripoli : trih- POE- luh

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Vining : VINE – ing

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Wapello : WAAH–puh-lo

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Wapsipinicon :   wahp-si-PIN-ih-con [final syllable is often a "schwa"]

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What Cheer :   whuh-cheer (no "t" sound, syllables connected)

FOOTNOTE, Nov. 28, 2014: Thanks for the continuing input! We're looking into the names and pronunciations you've suggested. Here's a short list of what's in process:  Readlyn (RED-lin, not REED-lin, according to one source); Moscow (there are different opinions);  Delmar (we're working on it!); Calmar (CAL-mer, says our source). Stay tuned!

 

 

 

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