Sometimes I’ve posted about the pronunciation of Idaho place names, something Lalia did only when the pronunciation wasn’t obvious. For instance, Pahsimeroi is pronounced, according to Lalia, pu-SIM-uh-roy. It is allegedly of Shoshoni origin with pah meaning water, sima meaning one, and roi meaning grove. The river had one noticeable grove of trees on its bank.
Lalia’s book, published by the University of Idaho Press, came out in 1988.
I ran across an old favorite the other day, the Pronunciation Guide for the State of Idaho, by William J. Ryan. It was published in 1975 by the Idaho State Press Journalism Department as a guide for radio and television announcers who might encounter an Idaho place name for the first time and wonder how the heck you pronounce Weippe. The answer is WEE-ipe, according to the ISU publication and everyone I’ve ever talked with who seemed to know.
In 1975, Ryan noted that there were 40 radio stations in Idaho. Nowadays there are that many receivable in the Boise market and 187 statewide. The number of TV stations hasn’t grown as much, though streaming choices are endless. In 1975 there were 11 TV stations in Idaho, compared with 19 today.
It’s probably time to do an updated pronunciation guide, since we’ve had a few hundred thousand people move into the state in recent years. There are some place names that didn’t exist when either of the two publications came out. Maybe that’s not a big problem. I can’t think of a way to mispronounce Avimor.
To own your personal copy of the ISU publication, you can download it here.
Thanks to Stuart Summers, Associate Vice President of Marketing, Communications, and Strategic Initiatives at Idaho State University for his help in making this possible.