It’s All in the Pronunciation

Gratitude Day 299

Thurs., July 11, 2019

Acts 27:5, 7a, 8  – When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.  

After Hubby Rick and I were married, we lived in Baraboo, WI. One time, one of our brother-in-law’s asked us, “What’s the deal with this town called Ma-ZOM-o-nee?”

It took about 1.5 seconds and Hubby Rick and I realized he was talking about MAY-zo-may-nee.

It’s all about the pronunciation. Just a few years later, our zip code was non-other than 53560, for Mazomanie.

ithaca road sign on a blue sky background

Once, I was asked if I knew where I-THA-KA is. It took me a couple seconds to realize they were asking about ITH-a-ka.

Growing up, our family lived about 20 miles from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. For years, every spring when the UW-Eau Claire men’s basketball team played in the NCAA Division 3 finals, the announcers produced the team as the U-Claire Bluegolds.  Could SOMEONE help them get the pronunciation correct? Please?

About 20 years ago, the Madison, WI daily paper, The State Journal, printed the funniest story on the front page. It listed all the names of Wisconsin towns that many non-Wisconsinites can not pronounce correctly. Top of the list? Mazomanie. Where Hubby Rick and I were living at the time.

Let’s see how many of these you know:

Oconomowoc

Weyauwega

Minocqua

Wauwatosa

Ashwaubenon

Here’s the correct pronunciation:

O-CON-no-mo-walk

WHY-a-we-ga

MI-na-kwa

WOW-a-to-sa

ASH-wa-bo-nan

If you’ve spent any amount of time reading the Bible, you soon run across names that are nearly impossible to pronounce. Some are people’s names. Some are names of towns. Believe me … we’ve all stumbled through many of these names.

A couple years ago, Hubby Rick was the lay liturgist one Sunday morning. One role for this person is to read scripture during worship. I dutifully ran off the script for Rick the night before and laid it on the coffee table for him to review. After reading it and discovering the names of a whole bunch of towns he had no clue how to pronounce, he said to me, “Seriously. THIS is the scripture for tomorrow? There was no other scripture you could have chosen?”

Nope.

The next day, Rick stood at the lectern. He read something like this: When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Baraboo and Reedsburg, we landed at Madison in Wisconsin. We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Janesville. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Arlington, opposite DeForest. We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Sun Prairie.  

By the second line, the entire congregation was chuckling along as Rick read, replacing the biblical towns with names of nearby towns and cities everyone knew and had been to. Somehow, this scripture seemed to make more sense to everyone sitting in a pew that day.

As a pastor, I have butchered more than my fair share of names. This is why I haven’t said the last names of family members while reading the obituary at a funeral in years. I KNOW I will pronounce a name wrong. So, I stick just to first names.

Here’s the deal. No matter who says your name or your hometown wrong, God STILL. KNOWS. WHO. YOU. ARE. There’s no doubt in God’s being what the correct pronunciation of your name is, where you call home and how you prefer your hometown to be said. In fact, God knows every last detail of your life, even more so than you do. And somehow, God knows this about everyone you do and don’t know. How God does this is way beyond me. I just relish that somehow, someway, it happens.

Thanks be to God.

Thanks, God for knowing my name, where I live and how to pronounce it all.

For God’s unending knowledge of everything, I am grateful.

Dear God – Yes, we stumble through names of people and names of cities and sometimes, even names of countries. You see beyond the words and know our hearts and souls. Thanks be to You, O God. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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