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Nevada pronunciation debate continues, governer chimes in


by Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: A proposal by an out-going Nevada lawmaker to officially recognize an alternate pronunciation of the name of the state as an acceptable second-choice has generated a lot of comment, with most residents not surprisingly opposed to the idea.

But some of those posting comments on various news sites also support the idea that maybe Nevadans should be more tolerant of those who “mispronounce” the state’s name.

Others have suggested the resolution sought for drafting by Assemblyman Harry Mortenson, D-Las Vegas, is a waste of time and money.

Asked for his opinion on the pronunciation issue, native Nevadan and Gov. Jim Gibbons said the Ne-vah-da version does bother him. Asked how he reacts, Gibbons said: “Well, I tell them if they want to be socially acceptable they should say ‘Ne-vaaa-da’. We have a Ramada Hotel, but it is in Nevada.”

Mortenson, who won’t be returning to the Assembly due to term limits, said his resolution is intended only to acknowledge the alternative pronunciation of the state’s name used by people around the world. It is not an effort to change the accepted pronunciation of Nevada, which is Spanish for “snow-capped,” referring to the Sierra Nevada.

Another lawmaker will have to introduce the resolution on his behalf if it is to get a hearing in the 2011 legislative session.

Retired state Archivist Guy Rocha has argued, however, that Mortenson’s alternative pronunciation is not Spanish but one that has developed in the eastern part of the United States.

Mortenson’s proposed resolution language follows:

BDR Draft

Whereas there are two common pronunciations of the name of our great state:

(1)   the provincial pronunciation utilized by approximately two-million Nevadans, using a flat A-sound – a sound not unlike the bleating of a sheep, and;

(2)   the cosmopolitan or Spanish pronunciation used by the other seven-billion inhabitants of our planet, using a soft “A” intonation-not unlike a sigh of contentment, and;

Whereas the name Nevada is a Spanish word meaning covered-with-snow, and;

Whereas the Spanish word for covered-with-snow existed for many centuries before the “discovery” of America and the existence of our great state, and;

Whereas it is becoming a continuous, prodigious, and daunting task for the two million colloquial-speaking inhabitants to interrupt and correct the other seven-billion inhabitants of the Planet who utilize the Spanish/cosmopolitan pronunciation, and;

Whereas our colloquial State citizens accomplished their responsibility by interrupting and correcting a confused George Stephanopoulos during a world-wide television broadcast of the Democratic Presidential forum held in Carson City in February of 2007, and;

Whereas the same colloquial State citizens wisely chose not to interrupt President George Bush when he used the Spanish pronunciation during a reelection tour of our great state, and;

Whereas it is almost impossible to correct television pundits worldwide – virtually all of whom utilize the Spanish pronunciation, and;

Whereas the metropolitan area of Las Vegas has grown to exceed two million inhabitants-most of whom are composed of the afore mentioned seven-billion cosmopolitans, and;

Whereas our great state is rapidly transitioning from a colloquial status to a cosmopolitan status, and;

Whereas visitations to the entertainment capitol of the world exceed the visitations to Mecca, and these visitors to our great state should not be subjected to rude corrections of their traditional pronunciation by well-meaning colloquial individuals, and;

Whereas the citizens of our great state are universally known, not only for their fierce independence, they are also known for their open-mindedness, their neighborly attitude, their compassionate charity, and their benevolent tolerance;

Therefore; be it resolved, that henceforth, there will be two acceptable pronunciations for the name of our great state:

(1)    the preferred pronunciation will be the colloquial pronunciation, and;

(2)    the less-preferred pronunciation will be the charitably-tolerated Spanish/cosmopolitan pronunciation.



Gov. Jim Gibbons on pronunciation of “Nevada”:

081110Gibbons1 :07 is in Nevada.”

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