The Nevada legislature has started planning for its next legislative session, scheduled to begin in February 2010. Currently, legislators are submitting "bill draft requests" for bills that they plan to introduce in the new session, and the one attracting the most attention is certainly the most important: the bill that would declare different pronunciations of "Nevada" to be acceptable.
It seems that Nevadans themselves pronounce the "vad" like "glad," and that they tend to be really irritated with people from elsewhere who pronounce it like "odd." Visiting politicians (and others) have been loudly booed for saying "Nev-odd-a," in fact. Now, though, a non-solution is on the way.
Assemblyman Harry Mortenson (D-Las Vegas) has submitted a draft resolution that would declare that there shall be two "acceptable" pronunciations, although one of them is "preferred":
Whereas there are two common pronunciations of the name of our great state:
(1) the provincial pronunciation utilized by approximately two-million Nevadans, using a flat A-sound — a sound not unlike the bleating of a sheep, and;
(2) the cosmopolitan or Spanish pronunciation used by the other seven-billion inhabitants
of our planet, using a soft "A" intonation—not unlike a sigh of contentment, and . . .
Whereas it is becoming a continuous, prodigious, and daunting task for the two million colloquial-speaking inhabitants to interrupt and correct the other seven-billion inhabitants of the Planet who utilize the Spanish/cosmopolitan pronunciation . . .
Therefore; be it resolved, that henceforth, there will be two acceptable pronunciations for the name of our great state:
(1) the preferred pronunciation will be the colloquial pronunciation, and;
(2) the less-preferred pronunciation will be the charitably-tolerated
So, those of you in the other 49 states now know the preferred way to say something like, "I vote to store all our nuclear waste in Nevada." Say it in a way that is not unlike the bleating of a sheep.
Nevada is in fact a Spanish word meaning "covered with snow" or "snowfall," which does not quite seem to fit a state that is mostly desert, but the name apparently refers to the Sierra Nevada mountain range where the gold was (and is). Using the Spanish pronunciation of the word, though, will get you yelled at by most Nevadans (the ones who don't speak Spanish, probably), and Mortenson made clear that he was not trying to establish any official pronunciation.
"The bottom line is, I do not want to change the pronunciation that Nevadans use for their state," Mortenson said. "I am trying only to ask them to be tolerant of those who use the Spanish pronunciation." Americans are all about tolerance these days, so I'm sure there will be no problem with that.
Link: Reno Gazette-Journal