Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 51

Thread: Non-sonorous city names

  1. #1
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Posts
    916

    Non-sonorous city names

    Inspired by Gedunker's post in the Manyunk thread about Conshohocken, PA being the least-sonorous city name in the US, I'd like to assemble a whole rogues gallery of not-so-sonorous city and town names. I always thought Conshohocken didn't sound so nice. I've noticed that a lot of these names, like Conshohocken, have American Indian ancestry. So maybe we're just communicating a cultural bias for sounds that are more comfortable with the English-speaking tongue.

    Anyway, here are some names that quickly come to mind:
    Hockessin, DE, a small town a little south of Conshy. Must have been the same Indians.
    Piscataway, NJ. Its got cat piss in it. Hard to beat for negative alliteration.
    Mauch Chunk, PA (now Jim Thorpe)
    Manunka Chunk, PA, only the 2nd "chunk" town I ever found.
    Hackensack, NJ, another Indian name? It sounds like a game stoners play!
    Ho-Ho-Kus...that's not hokum, that's a real town's name!

    So, anyone have some good ones?
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Posts
    2,580
    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    So, anyone have some good ones?
    How about:

    Weekauken, NJ
    Hoboken, NJ
    Mamaroneck, NY
    Pawtucket, RI
    Woonsocket, RI
    Snohomish, WA

    I personally love the Native American names. They have much more character than the recycled English town and shire names.

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,903
    Waxahachie, TX - pronouced Woks-a-hatch-ee

    There's actually a joke about a State Trooper stopping someone in Waxahachie and halfway through the ticket when attempting to spell the city name, tells the speeder to go on his way and that he will catch up with him in Waco.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Not towns, per se, but neighborhoods. In my home town, "Kekionga Shores" always cracked me up. Of course, like the above poster, I prefer it to "The Shires at Cambridge Castle Estates" crap that they now use.

    California is partly blessed by having a strong Spanish heritage in place names. "Loma Rica; Palo Alto, Napa; Sausalito" Our "native names" tend to be more fluid, too. "Petaluma," for example, just sounds neat. It's harder to be a nativist ranter when the "foreign" language is so mellifluous. Of course, we can mispronounce Spanish names to the point they lose their elegance, but...

    Vacaville, my home town, is NOT one of the more elegant Spanish-based names in the world. Atascadero is "interesting" in sound, but still nice.

    Anyway, I always find "Yuba City" kinda grating. The kind of town name that speaks of railroad camps and land speculators. Then, there is "Coalinga," a bleak San Joaquin Valley town whose name is not Spanish or native but based on the term "Coaling Station "A"" for the railroad.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Appleton, Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,195
    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    How about:

    Weekauken, NJ
    Hoboken, NJ
    Mamaroneck, NY
    Pawtucket, RI
    Woonsocket, RI
    Snohomish, WA

    I personally love the Native American names. They have much more character than the recycled English town and shire names.
    Oodles of place names here in the midwest have American Indian roots. ALL of the place names with a 'wau', 'auk' or 'wauk' (ie, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Wauwatosa, Wausau, Waukegan, Waupun, Waupaca, Saukville, Sauk City, Kaukauna, etc) are that way, as is Muskegan, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Menomonee Falls (WI), Menominee (MI) and county (WI), Menomonie (WI), Chicago, Winnebago, etc.

    Oshkosh, WI is named after a chief of the Menominee tribe.

    I do agree, these names do make the area much more interesting.

    Mike

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    1,472
    Manunka Chunk is in northwestern NJ

    and to the Lenape Indians credit many of the place names picked up by european settlers bear little resemblance to what the indians actually called them.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 1997
    Location
    Clowns to the left, jokers to the right
    Posts
    1,438
    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    Waxahachie, TX - pronouced Woks-a-hatch-ee

    There's actually a joke about a State Trooper stopping someone in Waxahachie and halfway through the ticket when attempting to spell the city name, tells the speeder to go on his way and that he will catch up with him in Waco.

    What about the Texas city of Mexia, pronounced meh-HEE-uh, and Bexar county, pronounced like the asprin Bayer?
    JOE ILIFF
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Debt is normal . . . Be weird!
    Dave Ramsey

    "Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

  8. #8

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    I've always liked Philadelphia area suburban names, even the simpler ones. "Upper Darby, Merion, Devon, Narberth, Bala Cynwyd, Mount Airy, Chestnut Hill, Wynwood, Gladwyne (not sure of all these spellings).

    Chicago has some good ones, too: Kenilworth (lol), Glencoe, Winnetka, Wilmette, Oak Lawn, Bannockburn

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Posts
    916
    Manunka Chunk is in northwestern NJ
    Oops. My bad. It sounds like it should be in PA!

    and to the Lenape Indians credit many of the place names picked up by european settlers bear little resemblance to what the indians actually called them.
    And I often wonder if the names used today are the same as what the original settlers called them. In Delaware there is a Murder Kill river. I wonder if its a bastardization of "Moeder Kill" in Dutch, moeder meaning mother and kill being a word they used for tidal rivers, like the Arthur kill between Staten Island & NJ.

    In the Pine Barrens of South Jersey there is a place called "Mt. Misery" that started as a Methodist camp and was supposedly named for a French saint, "Misere" or something. But now were getting into sonorous names.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  10. #10
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,421

    Not sure this fits in this thread, but

    When people (mostly those who live there, my parents included) pronounce the name of my hometown (Port Huron, MI).....it often comes out sounding like "Port Urine".......drives me crazy.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  11. #11
    Two of my favorites are in Florida...

    Choctawhatchee and Weewahitchka.

  12. #12
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,903
    Quote Originally posted by Joe Iliff

    What about the Texas city of Mexia, pronounced meh-HEE-uh, and Bexar county, pronounced like the asprin Bayer?
    Off-topic:

    When I was at Texas State, I was a RA at Bexar Hall. We used to get calls from other dorms during move-in asking where "Bayer" hall was because they did not see anything on the map that made sense with the dorm name they were told. We did a really cool T-shirt one year for the residents that featured a photoshopped Bayer Aspirin bottle with the spelling changed and a bunch of little details modified, such as "202 easy to swallow students" and "do not mix with alcohol".

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  13. #13
    Conshococken is not sonorous, AND, my memory of ratty Philly girls saying it with disdain added to that discordance.

    New Jersey also brings Watchung and Hopatcong to the table. Dad would always linger on the "s" in Piscataway.

    Indiana adds Mishawaka and Shipshewanna to the list, tho the last can be pleasing. Our Polish friends will be pleased to know that we also have a Koszciusko
    Batter up!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian PlanBoston's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    40
    We have our native friends to thank for these as well:

    Contoocook, NH
    Quonochontaug, RI
    Weatague, CT
    Pawcatuck, RI

    I have to agree that these names help give an area identity and character, as there would never be a Milwaukee or Tallahassee in New England. I’m also sick of the generic “East Woodlawn Heights” type names.

  15. #15
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,825
    Couple more from NH:

    Ossipee
    Dummer
    Northumberland
    Kilkenny
    Sunapee
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  16. #16
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Here, but where are you?
    Posts
    16,038

    Michigan Has Some Too

    Kalamazoo MI
    Mackinac MI
    Tawas City MI
    Ypsilanti MI
    Paw Paw MI
    Escanaba MI
    "The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism." - George Washington

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Upstate
    Posts
    4,898
    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    I've noticed that a lot of these names, like Conshohocken, have American Indian ancestry. So maybe we're just communicating a cultural bias for sounds that are more comfortable with the English-speaking tongue.
    This is so true. We have a ton of Native American and Dutch community names around these parts. I have to admit I get a secret thrill listening to out-of-towners, including some of my co-workers, totally botch the pronunciation of names such as Coxsackie (mispronounced as "*****-ack-ee"), Niskayuna, Valatie, Cohoes (Cohoes mispronounced as "COE-hose"), etc. And I once worked in Mamaroneck... when people see that on my resume, they almost never pronounce it right.

    My street name, which is Dutch, is often changed on address labels as it seems to be interpreted by spellcheckers as an abbreviation of a common topographical term.

    Thanks to the person that explained the location of Manunka Chunk, NJ. It was mentioned in the book I'm currently reading, a biography of John James Audubon, and I was wondering where the heck it was!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    5,506
    I have to agree that the native names are the most interesting. I often like the names more than others, but sometimes the names just sound a little 'off'.

    Example: Nooksack, Washington in Whatcom County. Other names I find difficult to pronounce (correctly): Kittitas (Wa), Puyallup (WA) (and very few can get Puyallup right) and Zzyzx (Ca). Although, now that I've looked the last one up in wikipedia, it seems pretty easy to pronounce. As a kid Zzyzx stumped me though.

    Other names I like: Ahwahnee (as in the principles, the tribe in Yosemite Valley or the town in CA) and Nipinnawasee (CA).

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Northwestern Ohio
    Posts
    9,327
    Mackinac is the name of the big bridge and the beautiful straits that separate northern lower Michigan from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.....providing a five-mile-wide body of water between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

    Mackinaw City (notice the spelling) is the tourist ("fudgies") town at the very top of the Lower Peninsula.

    In my fake metro I have a suburb called Mahskeekee Lake. Even though my city is fake, there is such a lake in the central Upper Peninsula.

    A couple more fun names for the Upper Peninsula include Negaunee, Ishpeming, and Gay.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Posts
    110
    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    A couple more fun names for the Upper Peninsula include Negaunee, Ishpeming, and Gay.
    And don't forget about Ontonagon and Escanaba.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Minneapolis
    Posts
    229
    I think Chicago wins the award for interchangeable suburb names. Let's see... Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Oak Forest, Forest View, Forest Park, Park Forest, Park Ridge, Burr Ridge, Woodridge, Norridge, Northbrook, Northfield, North Chicago, East Chicago, West Chicago, Westmont... and the list goes on. But Chicagoland is relatively lacking in ugly city names, unless you count some of the exurbs. "Minooka" is nearly impossible to say without chuckling, and "Homer Glen" just sort of makes you say D'oh.

    Chicago also has what might be the only case of a city in the Rust Belt being named after a city in the Sunbelt: Phoenix, IL, a south suburb which is named for Phoenix, AZ.

    Washington State, though, definitely got the short end of the stick when it came to town names. You can tell a true Washingtonian by the way (s)he pronounces "Puyallup" (Pew-a-lup), "Sequim" (Squim), or "Skykomish" (Skuh-ko-mish). But they also have a place called Humptulips.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Working in a Vulnerable Location
    Posts
    17,385
    Two from California:

    Los Gatos and Los Banos.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  23. #23

    Registered
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    1,548
    Quote Originally posted by drucee
    But Chicagoland is relatively lacking in ugly city names, unless you count some of the exurbs.
    I'm not so sure about that. There's Harvey, IL, which always sounded to me like it should have been part of a tri-cities with Ed and Raymond.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Posts
    14
    I think I have a winner here...

    How about Zyzzyx, CA. pronounced Zy Zix

  25. #25

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake
    Two from California:

    Los Gatos and Los Banos.

    As yes. Los Banos. "The Baths." What an amazingly bleak place.

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Little + after names
    Cyburbia Issues and Help
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 01 Sep 2010, 7:50 AM
  2. Replies: 28
    Last post: 04 Jan 2006, 2:26 PM
  3. Replies: 26
    Last post: 17 Sep 2005, 5:01 PM
  4. Optimistic City Names...
    Cities and Places
    Replies: 34
    Last post: 18 Nov 2004, 10:01 AM
  5. Replies: 2
    Last post: 04 Oct 2004, 10:42 AM