Massachusetts Town Names That Only Locals Can Deal With…

 

Scituate

Sort of like “sit chew it,” but not really. The “C” is silent, like in “scenery.” OK, maybe the “S” is silent because “Scenery” starts with the “Cee” sound. For the love of Mary, we’re one town into this, and I’m already flailing.

 

Leicester

“Molester” without the first name of the slap-happy Stooge. Remember, the “r” is non-rhotic.

 

Billerica

Silent “e,” and “rica” is pronounced like My Friend Flicka.

 

Gloucester

The people who make the Gorton’s Of Gloucester commercials pronounce it wrong. It’s actually sort of like “Gloss Stir”… if you pronounce that last R, that is… which we don’t.

 

Worcester

I was a security guard at the Worcester Centrum one year, and I saw Kenny Rogers or Charlie Daniels or some country guy or another botch this one. “Me and the boys travel all across the land, but we always love it when we come back to War Chester.” Someone up front shouted the proper word, causing the singer to make a confused face and say, a bit more properly but full of self-doubt, something that sounded a bit like “Rooster.”

The town is sometimes pronounced like the steak sauce, and vice-versa.

 

Somerville

The best way I can explain this without maxing out the syllable-syllable-syllable thing is to say that the Beach Boys or the Heat Miser should live here.

Ironically, this is where Winter Hill is.

 

Leominster

Lemon-stir, quite possibly named so that residents with a jar of water and some sugar would never forget how to make lemonade. Bree Sisson, the former WBZ anchor, always stumbled over this one. She works in Alabama now.

 

Plymouth

Pronounced nothing at all like the “Fly South” that it looks like… more like “Dim Myth,” but only a bit.

 

Chicopee

Sort of like “chicory,” but not really.

 

Sandwich

One thing that I discovered when I moved to Cape Cod is that about 20% of the people I know pronounce this as “Sammich.” It goes up to 35% if the town name is dropped mid-sentence.

This one doesn’t matter much… a town with “SANDWICH POLICE” written on their vehicles isn’t worrying too much about how things sound.

 

Tyngsborough

“Ting,” not “Tying.” Also, note the over-lettering of what should be “boro.” Many town residents, including those from Middleboro and Foxboro, refuse to use the “ugh” ending. No, none of these town names end in a way that rhymes with “cough.”

 

Rehoboth

People who write dictionaries- who may just have even one guy who specializes in the little ruh-hoe-buth parts of dictionaries- know how to tell you how to pronounce this. I can’t do it, at least not in print. “The first part sounds like it should have a soft A in it” is where I start to fall apart when trying, and that covers only 25% of the word.

 

Cataumet, Waqouit, Weqauquet, etc…

Cape Cod’s town names are easy, but they make up for it by having impossible village names.

 

Woburn

The “o” is pronounced exactly like the “u” is pronounced in “tuba,” because… well, f*ck you.

 

Haverhill

More “shave” than “have.” A rare pronounced R sound in a Massachusetts town name.

 

Cotuit

“O” as “uh,” then the last part of “Do it to it.” Yes, the “o” is a “u” sound and the “u” is an “oo” sound. We may one day be invaded by a foreign power, but they will not sneak up on us if they have to talk at all.

 

Fairhaven

You’d think that “fair” is in this word, but you’d be wrong. The “ir” was put in that word just to fool the British. The remainder of the prefix is pronounced like a longer way to run… provided that The Sound Of Music is set in South Boston.

 

 

Duxbury

I made a relatively quick leap from Dorchester to Quincy to Duxbury in the 1970s. Duxbury is about where, after Busing, the snarling Boston accent runs into the more clipped Cape Cod accent. I spent 4th and 5th grade being removed from regular class for Speech Therapy, and all of it was me, over and over, having to say words like “farther” and “carnivore.” They tried to exorcise my Boston accent like I was Regan MacNeil.

As for pronouncing Duxbury, some people pronounce the end sort of like “berry,” and some say it sort of like the last part of Kitty Purry. The first part is like “Ducks,” and not at all like Frank Dux from Bloodsport.

 

Tyringham

“Tier,” not Tie.” As of the last census, only 327 people truly know the right way to pronounce it, and some of them are babies.

 

Cochituate

Pronounced “Cochituate.”

Next….

 

Hyannis

More “Buy Ann this” than “Uranus.” Much like the man from Nantucket has a joke, Hyannis is the punch line of a local joke in which the town is named in a conversation where either a Pilgrim or a Wampanoag explains to the other why it is difficult to have sex with deer.

 

Nahant

Just as confusing backwards as forwards.

 

Eastham

Looks easy enough. The end can be a deal-breaker. I threw this article up on the Eastham FB page, and there is some debate ongoing. ‘Ham or ‘Hum, choose your side wisely. It is tied very heavily into how one pronounces “Chatham.”

I’m an Upper Cape guy, this is Outer Cape stuff, and I can’t be the one who makes the call.

 

Housatonic

Should be in Texas, and used as an adverb.

 

Wellesley

Also should be used as an adverb.

 

Mattapoisett

This isn’t that hard to pronounce, but you have to stare at it for a second before you do so.

 

Quincy

Your favorite 1970s TV coroner pronounced his own name wrong, there’s a Z in this.

 

Assinnippi

A little bit of Mississippi for the South Shore.

 

Assonet

Sounds like a crude name for pantyhose.

 

Cambridge

More “I came, I saw…” rather than Cam Neely’s first name.

 

Padanaram

The nice part of Dartmouth, but it sounds like a level of Hell.

 

Truro

A rare Massachusetts word that pronounces both “r” sounds. It fools people who try to fake a Boston accent by dropping every “r.” The actor who portrayed Cliff Clavin would have Jacksonian seizure if “Truro” came up mid-sentence on the teleprompter.

 

Amherst

No “H.”

 

Acushnet

“A cushy net,” minus the “y.” The town seems to be named after a hammock.

 

Groton

Rhymes with “cotton,” I think. I don’t get there much.

 

Athol

 

 

 

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