PNW Names Are Most Mispronounced in America
First of all, it’s When-NATCH-eee, not When-NAW-CHEE.
You can always tell someone is not from around here when they mispronounce Wenatchee …or the big town of Spokane.
Here’s a rhyme to help you remember both:
I’ll never forget when Duran Duran
Once played a concert in Spokane
(Duran Duran played at the Spokane Opera House on March 5th, 2005)
Or how about
The Beatles wrote songs that were very-catchy
But never a song that once mentioned Wenatchee
Specific towns, mountains, and lakes in the Pacific Northwest have surprisingly become the most mispronounced in America.
Silent letters, surprising spots in the name to place - or not to place an emphasis. Impress locals, or simply fly under the radar (if you're trying to lay low) by learning the correct pronunciations of these Pacific Northwest places.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
That French-looking “-ette” ending - might trick you into giving the end of Willamette the stress to emphasis, but, it's the middle that needs it—wil-LAM-et. And for Oregon - it’s OR-eh-gihn, not or-uh-GAHN
Mount Rainier, Washington
Washington's tallest volcano is typically pronounced ray-NEAR by locals. Try not to emphasize the first bit or say RAY-nee-er. Some (and this is a smaller percentage) have given the mountain a very French pronunciation: REHN-yay for France - NOPE.
One of Washington's most visited lakes Lake Chelan (Lake shull-ANN) gets butchered by visitors. As a kid, I grew up not far from the hard-to-pronounce town of Sequim (skwim). The Washington state fair home Puyallup (pew-AL-up) also seems to tie people up in knots.
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
The town (and lake) Coeur d’Alene is pronounced by people in the Inland Empire as kor-duh-LANE. You can also look like a local by referring to Coeur d’Alene as CDA.
In Memoriam: 2023 Deaths
Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp