Missouree/Missouruh. Potato/Potahto.

I  came across this story in the New York Times today about politicians’ pronunciation of “Missouri”. As a native Midwesterner and having gone to school in Missouri, I’ve heard both pronunciations aplenty, but I never gave too much thought to the need to use the state’s pronunciation for political gain. This is classic political pandering, but I suppose every little bit helps in tightly-contested campaign races anymore.

The article notes that most people–myself included–use “Missouree”, but even I’ve dropped the occasional “Missouruh” every now and then. I know my mom–a native Missourian–uses the former and my dad goes with the latter. I think there’s a lot of merit to the notion that this debate is rooted more in geography (urban vs. rural) and a generational gap (older vs. younger) than anything else, so it makes sense to exploit the pronunciation for a political gain in ads and on the stump.

While this whole discussion is a bit fatuous, it is fun to think about. And I think we can all agree that there’s no right or wrong here. Just so long as no one uses “Illinoise”, we’ll be good.