So I noticed that recently I have been mentioning my great home state in a lot of my posts. I decided that I should start occasionally posting about interesting things about the Rushmore State (interestingly enough, when I was a kid we went by the Sunshine State. Who where they trying to kid?).
For the first post, I decided to included a handy-dandy, perhaps unintentionally humorous pronunciation guide. In the great tradition of States on the upper great plains, we don’t pronounce things like they should be pronounced. Nebraska has Beatrice (bee-AT-riss) and Norfolk (NOR-fork), while Iowa has Madrid (MAD-rid) and Nevada (nuh-VAY-duh). It’s a strange phenomena, of which South Dakota is not immune.
The first is our state capitol, Pierre. Raise your hand if you pronounce it (PEE-air). You’re killing me, Smalls. The correct pronunciation is (PEER). Now go to your closest fourth grader and sheepishly admit that they were right. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Oh, and if you did have it right, feel free to smugly gloat. You are probably from around here.
Next is Belle Fourche. This could go so many ways, couldn’t it? But I bet that you weren’t expecting it to be (bell FOOSH). Yeah, I don’t get it either.
How about Sinai? In an odd manner of vowel juxtaposition, this is pronounced (SIGH-nee-eye). It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s South Dakota.
Lake Andes. Sounds like a beautiful mountain vista in South America, no? rearranging the syllabic emphasis, it is pronounced (lake an-DEES). And it is located on the flat side of the state.
While we are on the subject of emphases, let’s talk about Aberdeen. The truth is, a lot of South Dakotans get this one wrong. A true Aberdonian would pronounce this (ABER-deen).
If you get thirsty, consider a trip to Beresford (BEERS-furd).
Hayti might make you stop to think that this is pronounced like the country, albeit with an alternate spelling. Nope. It’s (HAY-tie).
Last but not least is Jefferson. It is in fact pronounced Jefferson. But once upon a time it went by Adelescat. You might find it interesting to know that it was named after a girls missing cat. That’s right. Adele’s cat.