It came out of the mouth of a TV reporter during the 6 O’clock news last night (Thursday, June 25). I don’t know what the story was about. I’m not quite sure who the reporter was. I think that I know the station, but it doesn’t matter because I was still hung up on what she said. It caught my attention instantly. My head turned like it was on ball bearings. Longtime Austinites could be heard murmuring, “She ain’t from around here.”
She was referring to the former area formerly known as Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, and the reporter called it, “MULE-ur.” There are members of the Mueller family still living here. The name is pronounced “MILL-er”.
Right then, I knew it was time. It was time to recreate my pronunciation guide for new broadcast news reporters, and for anybody else who hasn’t lived in Austin, Texas very long—a lot of people are in that group. Why is this important? For people on the air, mispronunciation results in immediate distraction from the story at hand and loss of credibility.
Somewhere (probably in the attic where you could bake bread this time of the year), I have the original list. I would give it to new reporters and anchors. Let me say, I don't necessarily agree with these localism, but nobody asked me. So, this is the reconstituted list:
Let’s start with towns and places.
Manor is pronounced MAY-nur, not how it looks.
Elgin is pronounced with a hard “g”, not like the watch, like “begin”.
Mexia is Spanish. So, it’s pronounced Mah-HAY-ah.
San Antonio is located in Bexar County. Like Mexia, it is Spanish, pronounced like the aspirin BAY-er.
Lake Buchanan is said “Lake BUCK-annan”.
Llano is also Spanish, but it isn’t pronounced like the Spanish double L. Say “LAN-oh” instead.
Manchaca, the road and town, is Spanish, but isn’t pronounced in Spanish by most locals. Say MAN-shack instead. (I'm not kidding.)
Menchaca Elementary School is in Manchaca. The school is pronounced the way it looks in Spanish.
Burnet is pronounced BURN-it.
Blanco is not pronounced in Spanish. It’s said, “BLANK-oh”.
San Marcos would seem easy, but locals say, “San MARK-us”, not “ohs”.
Andice is actually the way it looks: AN-dice with a long “I”.
Buda is pronounced BYOU-duh. Not the way you think.
Bastrop is pronounced BASS-strop.
Pedernales - The street, the river, and the state park are pronounced by locals as PURR-di-NAL-es. I don't know why.
Dripping Springs may also be called “Drippin’”
A little background: South Austin is historically looked upon with scorn by North Austinites. Over the years, South Austinites were called “Bubba’s”. South Austinites would never, ever live north of the river because they believe the people there live life in the fast lane, except during rush hour when they just sit in the fast lane. (I’ve lived only in South Austin for, well, er, decades.)
Now, we’ll move to Austin streets.
I – 35 is not IH-35. Longtime locals called it “Interregional Highway”, but most people wouldn’t know what you were talking about if you said that.
The signs for the other north-south thoroughfare say “Loop 1”, but everyone calls it MOPAC, even though the tracks are now owned by Union-Pacific. I keep thinking it will be named after someone famous.
Coming from the east, Texas Highway 71 becomes Ben White Blvd. before it turns in to US 290 West (unless you’re in the wrong lane and have to go straight. If you go straight, you’ll be on Loop 360.) At the “Y” in Oak Hill (Southwest Austin) you’ll have a choice again of 290 West or 71 West.
Guadalupe may be called “The Drag” where it runs past The (with a capital “T”) University of Texas at Austin. Elsewhere, the street is not pronounced in Spanish. Locals say GUA-dah-loop. Really. However, the river and the county are pronounced in Spanish, which is much nicer.
Some streets have different names, depending on where you are. Ranch Road 2222 is Koenig Lane (Pronounced KEY-nig.) It is also Northland near MOPAC and Allendale east of MOPAC.
US 183 is more confusing. Depending on where you are in Austin, it might be Research Blvd or Anderson Lane or Ed Bluestein on the south end. If you go all of the way north to Cedar Park, it’s Bell Blvd.
Airport Blvd. back in Austin used to run parallel to the airport when the airport was Mueller. It still has little signs showing airplanes because if you go south on Airport, you will eventually get to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Manor Road. (See Manor, the town above. Same thing.)
Duval occurs in two places: North of UT and way north off of MOPAC.
Got all of that? I’ve probably left out a few. I welcome additions. Just click on “Comments” and share them with everyone.
© Jim McNabb, 2009