Friday, February 20, 2009

A Guide to Western Pronunciation

We had a new dad in our nursery a few Sundays ago, and as is polite, I asked him the usual questions: name, occupation, where do you live, how much has your 401K lost. Then I asked him from where he moved. His answer: BOYZEE (Boise).

Must not have lived there very long, I say to him.

"We lived there 8 years, so pretty long."

What? He lived in Boise for 8 years and he was still calling it BOYZEE? I felt the vein in my forehead pounding. I was suddenly sympathetic to Freddie Quimby, the nephew to Mayor Quimby on The Simpsons, who threatened a french waiter who called "chowdah," "choudiare."

"It's pronounced Boy-SEE, Boy-SEE! I'll kill you! I'll kill all of you! Especially you in the jury!"

But it's nursery, so I let it slide. But I gotta wonder what is happening to my people in Idaho? Are there so many outsiders that Boise is indeed now known as Boize? Or is it becoming "big city," where people don't want to make waves or correct others. Are Idahoans "keeping to themselves?" Where are the bossy, motherly, settin'-things-right Idahoans of my youth?

Are you telling me that in Boise if I go to a grocery store on a coldish day with my children not in coats or shoes I'm not going to have at least five grandmotherly ladies lecturing me on dressing my children appropriately? Does no one say anything to the youthful boys about hitching their pants up above their underwear? Do people turn their heads when a spiked, blue-haired punk gets on the bus, rather than staring him down with a crinkle inbetween their eyes?

My Boise friends: you are letting me down. As soon as someone new moves into the neighborhood, your first duty is to bring them a bag full of fresh zucchini from your overgrown garden, and then remind them that it's Boy-see, not Boy-zee, and if you hear differently from them, their house will be pelted with the over-ripe tomatoes from your garden.

Don't go big city on me, Idaho. Let's not turn into Col-"aw"-"raw"-do or Nev-"aw"-da. Double-points if you're still calling it Pokey or Pocatell-"ah."

But I do give one pass to a certain singer who we revere in this house: Morrissey. During his one and only concert in Nampa, Idaho, he came bursting onto the stage saying, "Hello, girls and boyz-ee." Now that's just cool.

10 comments:

Leo and Jill said...

I hear ya. I ALWAYS correct anyone and everyone when they say Boize. It is spelled with an S for Pete's sake. Learn to read!!!
Leo just tells me that I shouldn't be so upset about it but I do because Idaho is my home and BoiSe is my capital.

That's what we said: said...

Cindy,
This is a great post that deserves the utmost attention and aught to be plastered on the front page of the Idaho Mistakesman. It seems we are being invaded by non-natives who could use a few lessons in Boise’s history and pronunciation. As a Boise native and resident (yes I was actually born here, just raised in the majestic magic valley) I feel it a duty to share a brief history of Boy-See.

FACT: The name, "Boise" comes from a French word, boisé, meaning "wooded". It first came to use among French-Canadian fur trappers in the nineteenth century as a name for the Boise River.

FACT: Boise is known for its low crime rate, extensive greenbelt running through the city, trendy downtown and quality of life. The city has been cited by publications like Forbes, Fortune and Sunset for its quality of life.

QUESTION: Which pronunciation is best?

That’s debatable there are basically two schools of thought..

FACT: Boy-See beats Boy-zee

Emily said...

Loved it, Cindy.

Kim said...

I'm surprised that you are not posting about bigger issues in our language, such as,
REALTOR and realAtor or BUTTON not buDDon. Let's really get down and dirty with the real problems here!

Mark, Lindsay, Bennett, and James said...

What? You got to see Morrissey in concert--JEALOUS! Yep, I think the Boise folk are trying to go big city. My brother-in-law lived there for many years and if you talked to him you would think Boise was as big as NYC. I sure do love your randomness.

Morkthefied said...

Oh, Lindsey, you've stumbled upon one of my favorite things to bash: Boiseans. The rest of Idaho realizes their limitations and ruralness, but Boiseans seem to think they're all cosmopolitan and "better" than the rest of us "hick" Idahoans.

Paula, spoken like a true Dwight Schrute fan.

Kim, I'm probably the worst offender of mispronounced words. I still call "coo"pon, "cue"pon. And I'm sure I've pulled a George W. Bushism in saying nuclear wrong. But I don't say Mondey, Tuesdey, Thursdey, etc., and I don't say crick instead of creek, like some of my Idaho relatives.

Christensen's Craziness said...

I had no idea there was such disention! I was just getting the hang of the pronunciation of Hurricane and Juab.

go mom go said...

Boy-see! Who am I to say, though, since my husband laughs at me whenever I say woof, instead of wolf. I know it's wolf, but now I say woof just to toy with him.

Amo said...

Cindster -- I'm sorry, but I swear all of our Idaho relatives called it Boyzee. Are you sure it is not you who is too cosmopolitan to use the proper vernacular? And today is obviously Tuesdee, I drove my car in the "borrow" pit and the place where the water runs down the mountain is the "crick!" Don't tell me that's wrong!

abadgerbennett said...

THANK YOU for bringing up this very sensitive topic. As a Boy-seean of 12 years now, nothing is more grating than the sound of my beloved town's name murdered by an outsider. Truly, it is one way to know who's in the club and who is not.
I understand the citizens of Pierre, South Dakota have the same problem. Locals pronounce it Pier, as in Pier One Imports, but I always learned it as Pierre, as in the name of a Frenchman.
If you're an Idahoan do your state proud and pronounce it correctly: BOY-SEE.