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Why Do People Pronounce “Missouri” More Than One Way?

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How do you pronounce Missouri? Is it /miz-URR-ee/ or /miz-URR-uh/? There are actually four distinct pronunciations of this word. Linguist Donald Lance of the University of Missouri-Columbia studied the history of this name extensively and found that the pronunciation has always been a matter of some dispute. It’s not just the name of the Show-Me State, though. Many other words usually pronounced with an EE sound at the end have variant pronunciations with a schwa sound at the end, including Cincinnati, Hawaii, Miami, Corpus Christi, Mississippi, spaghetti, macaroni, ravioli, gladioli, and prairie. We previously discussed the pronunciation of Missouri here. This is part of a complete episode.

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