Those who live in South Mississippi cringe when they hear someone mispronounce Biloxi as Bi-lox-ee.
And anyone who says “Kiln” as it is spelled, rather than “the Kill” as it is spoken locally, is instantly known to be a visitor or newcomer. Same with “The Pass,” the shortened name for Pass Christian, which often is referred to as Pass Chris-chen instead of Pass-chris-tee-ann.
Even locals pronounce Gautier in different ways. City officials say it’s Go-chay. Others say Go-shay. The GPS says Gau-tee-air and visitors talk about how they enjoyed going to Gator. French teachers say all those pronunciations are wrong.
Saucier ends in “ier” just like Gautier, but it’s not pronounced So-chay. It also is called So-sher or So-shah, depending on whom you ask.
French pronunciations trip us up on other names, too. Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, is called Bow-vwar and Bow-vwa or even Boo-vwor. DeLisle you’d think would be De-Lyle, but it’s De-lil.
Giving directions to the Kiln-DeLisle Road really could get someone lost.
Those who drive Graveline Road may expect to see tombstones. But it’s pronounced Grav-a-leen in Gautier.
We’ve also got Croatian, Vietnamese and other international names to trip us up. Hawaiian is supposed to be one of the easiest languages, because it has only 12 letters in the alphabet. But Moanalua Way, Alii Place and many of the streets in Diamondhead can be head-scratchers.
I say “The Prom-a-naid,” you say “The Prom-a-nod.” D’Iberville Mayor Rusty Quave says either is OK with him for The Promenade shopping area, so long as people come shop and dine in his city.
The granddaddy of all South Mississippi words that few know how to say — let alone spell — is Tchoutacabouffa River.
The sign over the river on Interstate 10 no doubt has drivers traveling through the area wondering miles later how that Indian name is pronounced.
The T at the start is silent, the A at the end is forgotten and in between most call it the Chew-ta-ka-buff as it rolls off their tongue.
There is little hope we can agree how to pronounce Gautier and Saucier, but let’s all agree, and let TV announcers and visitors know —it’s Bi-lux-ee!
Even Webster prefers that pronunciation.