Like you, I’m sometimes asked, “Is it Nevada…or Nevahda?” It always reminds me of the day I first arrived in Hawaii and asked a gentleman on the beach, “Excuse me, Sir, but is it, “Hawaii” or “Havaii?”
“Havaii.” he responded with conviction.
It’s all in who you ask. When I’m in Missouri as Mark Twain I use “Missouri” while in the city and “Missoura” while in the country, and that seems to keep most of the natives from getting restless and showering me with invectives from the rafters.
Nevada however, has its own set of quirky resolutions, and one person I always like to consult on such matters is Guy Rocha (pronounced Rosha) or “Rex Veritas,” as we are wont to call him.
You might recollect a moment in 2003 when President Bush arrived in Las Vegas to campaign, and the president proclaimed how great it was to be in the state of “Nevahda.”
Well, King of Truth that he is, could not resist in releasing a delicate comment regarding the mispronunciation, for which he was hammered with a deluge of repartees from a formidable faction of vitriolic emailers.
The fact remains, we Nevadans tend to harden soft vowels. Take the street named “Moana” for instance. Moana is a typically beautiful Hawaiian word that is pronounced by Hawaiians, “Mo-anna.” Of course we harden the “a” just as we have done in our bowdlerizing of “Nevada.”
Personally, I tend to go along with Bill Bliss, scion of the Bliss family of early Nevada. Bill maintains that his family never converted to the present day “Nevada,” but continues to carry on in using its earliest pronunciation, “Nevahda.”
I sometimes mispronounce word myself on purpose, as I did this past Saturday evening at the High Camp Restaurant in Squaw Valley while addressing the Western States Geographical Society…
“I have seen a number of geographical societies and to the last one they have never accepted my proposal, so I’m hoping your Western States Society will be different. My proposal is this, you must give up searching for a path to the Northwest Passage. Yes, you must turn your attentions toward finding a path to Hail. I say “Hail” because I understand geographical societies are also religious societies and I do not want to offend anybody. I do not want to GO to Hail, don’t get me wrong. I only want to know how to GET to Hail. For once I know how to GET to Hail, I can then chart a course on how not to GO to Hail.”
On another note, I might like to see our beloved “Tahoe” revert to a name that never made it out of committee in the “100 Drinks” legislature of California in the early 1860s, “Tua Tulia.” Can’t you just see it on your bumper? Keep Tua Tulia Blue! Our LTVA would have a whole new start on geotourism. But then this is probably one reason I am not on their board
At the end of the day, I don’t care what you call us. For my money we’ve got the best lake in the world, cradled comfortably between the two best states in the Union, Nevada and Californee.
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at www.ghostoftwain.org.