I reproduce below a letter from yesterday’s NY Times (“The City” section, p. 11) with which I wholly agree:
To the Editor:
How could your F.Y.I. column give the answer it did to a reader plaintively asking for the proper way to pronounce “Kosciusko,” stipulating “as in the Kosciusko Bridge”?
The column tamely chose the Polish way (“ka-SHUSH-ko”).
I grew up in the Bronx in the 1930’s, have lived in Brooklyn since the 60’s, and have spent hours of my life stuck in traffic over fragrant Newtown Creek: we locals have always called it the “kos-kee-OSS-ko” bridge, even if we knew, as 30’s kids did, the Polish pronunciation from high school history.
So, quaintly, which is “the proper way”? The Thames River is “Tems” in London, “Thaymes” in New London, Conn. If you mean the general, go Polish; the bridge, go local.
To which I can only add: I’ve lived in NYC over twenty years and never heard anyone pronounce the bridge’s name à la polonaise, always either Brodtkorb’s way or koss-ee-USS-ko. Does Mr. F.Y.I. also say HUE-ston Street and BROOK-ner Expressway? Faugh.
Query. The comments inspire me to ask the readership at large: Are there local pronunciations of place names in your area that outsiders are unlikely to get right?