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Saying them right

The Legal Genealogist is headed to Iowa later this week for the Iowa Genealogical Society‘s Annual Fall Conference.

On Friday and Saturday, October 20-21, at the Toad Valley Golf Course in Pleasant Hill, we’re going to talk about researching those hard-to-find women in our families, about figuring out clues from the ages people had to be, about copyright and using court records and legal lingo and those wonderful scoundrels in our families.

And we’re going to hear about homesteaders and their records from Robert Marcell and what’s new at the State Historical Society of Iowa & Archives from Shari Stelling.

It’s going to be a great conference.

And it creates a real problem for this East Coast resident.

I mean, do you know how to pronounce the county in Iowa where my third great grandparents lived?

It’s Louisa County.

And — because I spent summers as a kid on a farm in Virginia where the nearest town was Louisa (Loo-EE-zuh) — every time I try to say it, I get it wrong.

Because it’s not pronounced that way in Iowa.

In Iowa, it’s Loo-EYE-zuh.

The city of Madrid in Boone County is not pronounced like the city in Spain.

It’s not muh-DRID. It’s MAH-drid.

And the county seat of Story County, Iowa, may be spelled like the state Nevada… but it’s not pronounced that way.

It’s neh-VAY-da in Iowa.

So… if we’re researching our ancestors there, how do we figure out how to pronounce the places where they lived the way they did… and the way the locals do?

We trot ourselves over to the wonderful website of Iowa Public Radio and check out its feature called “Pronouncing Iowa Place Names: An Audio Guide (expanded to 100 entries)”… and we listen in.

That’s where we can find out, quickly and easily, that Amish, Iowa, isn’t AH-mish. It’s AY-mish.

And Camanche isn’t Cuh-MAN-chee. It’s Cuh-MAANCH.

And East Peru doesn’t sound anything like the country in South America. In Iowa, it’s PEE-roo.

Thanks, Iowa Public Radio.

Now to practice.



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