Maryland Placenames Pronunciation *1-3

*1content by Don Desrosiers

*2wordsmithed by Adam Helman

*3Standard pronunciation symbols are not used
    because most readers are unfamiliar with them.
    A key to standard symbols is available here.

How to Talk Maryland

With the success of the recent How to Talk Virginian, it seemed apropos to enter a neighboring state and expound on how to talk proper Maryland. Clearly, there will be fewer pronunciation conundrums with this state than with Virginia, but then again, Maryland is smaller.

For the most part, your first instinct on pronunciation will be correct. As with most places in the South, slurring of syllables is expected. For many place names, just mumble and you will be good to go.

I will make no effort whatsoever to describe a Baltimore accent - quite distinctive. You will hear it during your foray(s). Or, you could just get one of John Water's movies and listen as the minor characters speak. Furthermore, trying to describe how folks talk on the Eastern Shore is beyond this forum. Sort of an Elizabethan English, particularly on Tangier or Smith Islands.

Places For the County Highpointer

Anne Arundel - "Ann-RUN-del". Just make it into a single word and you have this one down easily. The interesting historic note is that the original Anne Arundell (Lady Anne to you), wife of Cecillius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore supposedly pronounced her name "AARON-del".

Baltimore - The largest city in Merlin. "BAL-mer" or "BAWL-mer". Not to be confused with the guy from M$. People who live in Baltimore City are known as Baltimoreons (note the "e"). You say "Baltimorons" at your peril. Sort of the same way people in Maine are called Mainers and not Maniacs. People who live in Baltimore County will generally become offended if you refer to them as Baltimoreons.

Calvert - "CUL-vert". Pronounced just like the things that goes under the road. It has been pointed out that this is a particularly old pronunciation and that most people down there no longer talk that way. To some extent, that is true. Calvert County has become a bedroom community to DC and refer to their home as "CAL-vert" or "CAHL-vert" county. But if you go down to St Marys County or to one of the counties on the Eastern Shore, then you will hear it the older way.

Cecil - "SEE-sil".

Harford - Pay attention to the spelling and there is no problem.
The word does NOT contain a "T".

Maryland - "MER-lin". The name of the entire state. Just like the wizard in Camelot.

Prince Georges - Seems straightforward, no? In county, make very sure to pronounce it just as it is written. Two words. Outside the county, it is usually referred to as "P.G. County". Also, this county is plural. Prince George (singular) county is in VA.

Reisterstown - You go on Reisterstown Rd to get to the Balmer City HP. "RICE-ers-town", although saying "RICE-ters-town" is not incorrect.

Washington - For the most part pronounced just like the first US president or the state in the return address portion of the country. However, you will occasionally hear this pronounced "Wersh-ing-ton" in the Pennsylvania manner. Not likely to get called on this one.

Wicomico - "wi-COMB-ic-o". Definite emphasis on the second syllable.

Worcester - Pronounced just like the same place in Massachusetts (more or less). "Woo-ster".
First syllable rhymes with "would".

Other Places the Counter Highpointer may Pass or Encounter

Annapolis - The capitol city of Merlin. "NAP-lis".

Baltimore-Washington Parkway. - "B-W Parkway".

Bel Air - North of Balmer on I-95. "Blair".

Chesapeake Bay. To paraphrase Beautiful Swimmers, it is known throughout its watershed
simply as "The Bay". I highly recommend this book.

The Coats - the former football team in Balmer.
Many people there still haven't gotten over it.

Druid Hill Park. - Home of the Balmer Zoo. "Droodle Park".

Eastern Shore - The counties east of Bay Bridge and the Bay.

Fort McHenry - The Star Spangled Banner place. Outside the city, "Mack-HEN-ry".
Inside the city you may hear "Muh-CAN-nery". Like Cannery Row.

Hon - A semi-universal form of address in Balmer. As in, "What can I get for ya, Hon?". Just live with it. Coming into Balmer on the BW Parkway there is a sign that says, "Welcome to Baltimore". Now and again someone will paint "Hon" at the end. Very friendly, I think. The local officials do not seem to agree.

I-495. The Beltway. Goes around DC.
I-695. The Balmer Beltway. Goes around Balmer.

Monocacy - Battlefield and river in Frederick County. "muh-NOCK-a-see".

O's - The baseball team in Balmer. Also known as the Orioles, although nobody calls them that except effete intellectual snobs. And my brother-in-law who is decidedly neither effete nor a snob. You could also go with "The Birds".

Ocean City - Say both words clearly and distinctly. O.C. will mark you as a tourist or someone who watches too much TV.

Odenton - Near Anne Arundel Co HP. The first two syllables are pronounced like the Norse god.

Patuxent - As in the River or the Naval Air Station. Pronounced "Pax". As in "Pax River".

Slurping. How one eats oysters. Also known as arsters on the Eastern Shore.

Taneytown - In Carroll County. Named after Roger Taney,
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. "Tawny-town".

Upper Marlboro - County seat of Prince Georges (or P.G.) County. The second word can be pronounced "MARL-boro" (definite "L" sound), although many people will also say "MAR-boro". Either works.

Westminster - In Carroll County. "WEST-mins-ter", although some say "west-MIN-is-ter". Whatever works for you.

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