When I first started planning the Most Mispronounced Texas Towns & Cities Road Trip about a month ago, I had around 40 communities identified. Once I shared what I was planning to do on my How Big Is Texas Facebook page, that list more than doubled in size thanks to my followers suggestions, which is why this is entitled part 1. I’ll need to schedule more trips in the future on this topic.
Since I live in San Angelo and my quest maker for this adventure, Darla Dear, lives in east Texas, I loaded the SUV and headed east. Darla and I go back to 1980. I first met her when we were Juniors at Livingston High School. Go Lions! We both played on the basketball team. Our Senior year, we took all the same classes, including drama, which lead to an auspicious, but brief, 15-minutes of fame, performing Singing Val-o-Grams to fellow students and teachers at LHS on Valentine’s Day. We roomed together our Freshman year at Tyler Junior College in one of my favorite communities, Tyler, and then we didn’t see each other much, aside from occasional class reunions or, most recently, Zoom calls.
Day 1 – Colmesneil to New Braunfels
Darla and I stopped by the Manor Police Department to check in with Police Chief Phipps. Unfortunately, he was in a meeting but did step out to say hello to us. Here’s a little video I did of the community. In case you were wondering how to pronounce Manor, it’s MAY-ner. Pretty easy. I’m just glad we didn’t need any bail money.
While we know their aren’t two s’s in New Braunfels, I’ve heard a lot of people pronounce it like it has two. It’s simply New BRAWN-fulls. We found out from Alex at Naegelin’s German Bakery, the oldest bakery in Texas, established in 1868. By the way, the bakery is pronounced NEG-lins. I’d been saying it wrong for years. And, yes, we bought pastries.
Day 2 – New Braunfels to Waxahachie
Sadly, we were in a bit of a rush when we left out on day two of our trip so we didn’t get much time in Gruene. It’s pronounced like the color GREEN, pure and simple.
I do have a story about the community from a few years ago. My husband Dan and I were eating at the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar and the waiter was going on about the size of the onion rings. He said they were as big as your wrist. I suppose in my head, I thought ‘challenge accepted.’ The next thing I knew we had a big plate of huge onion rings on our table. When no one was looking, I grabbed one of the rings and, just as the waiter said, it was big enough to put over my hand and wear as a bracelet. They were certainly delicious, too. I wonder if they would have made nice loop earrings. Hmmm.
Darla and I met up with my friends and colleagues, Jeannette and Larry, from Visit Boerne for breakfast. We were going to have them help us out so we could learn to say Boerne. Instead, we got the chance to visit with Sheriff Al and he sat down to explain the name of the town in both English and German. ber-NÉE Outstanding stop!
Cindy at Jackson Street Mercantile in Burnet gave us a good laugh after she explained on this video how to pronounce her town.. Seconds after we stopped recording, Darla saw a Things to See and Do in Burnet flyer and pointed it out to me. She pronounced it Ber-NET. Cindy looked at her and said, “It’s a good thing you’re the sidekick.” It was probably my favorite response the entire trip. We only wished it had been recorded. I see a t-shirt for Darla in her future. It’s BER-nit, dern it!
I suppose our proximity to Mexico is the reason people mispronounce Llano. Many want to use the hard “Y” at the beginning of the word. It’s pronounced LAN-oh. Briley Mitchell at the Llano Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center offered us a better explanation and a bit of history of Llano.
Located along the stunning Llano River, the community is known for its rock stacking festival. Sadly, the 2021 Llano Earth Art Festival (LEAF) was cancelled. I highly recommend you try to attend when they have it again. You will love it!
Ducks and geese along the water at Waco were no help at all. We think they were trying to say WAY-co but it kept coming out as quack and honk.
My friend Laurie from Waxahachie and I go pretty far back and I used to live near there when I was in Hillsboro, another of the 20 Texas cities and towns in which I’ve lived. Sadly, she was out of town when we stopped. We found someone to help us out in the place that served as the location for the filming of Places in the Heart. Probably our favorite person to explain the pronunciation of any town for us was Spiritualist Medium and Restaurant Host Clayton Silva at Catfish Plantation. He knew the history of the name and he also knew about the paranormal activities at the restaurant. We were sad he didn’t do a reading for us but the ladies at the table next to us at dinner seemed satisfied with his findings.
Day 3 – Waxahachie to Nacogdoches
Tehuacana was a bit of a ghost town when we arrived, but it was pretty early on a Saturday morning so who could blame the locals for sleeping in? We looked up how to say it and Google gave us tuh-WA-kena. Unless someone can prove us wrong, we’ll go with it or wait until the good folks at City Hall tell us differently.
I have had the pleasure of working with two different people from the small town of Mexia in my career. Larry was a graphic designer when I was in Denton working as an Editorial Assistant at the University of North Texas. My former boss, David, was my most recent connection to Mexia. So I was aware of how to say it. It’s pronounced muh-HAY-uh.
Of course, if you hang out in the town for very long, you’ll hear some old timers calls it muh-HAIR.
DID YOU KNOW?This year is Kosse’s sesquicentennial. Happy Anniversary!!!
We didn’t have a local to help us out here. We had to look it up ourselves. I assumed it was MAR-kez but I couldn’t have been more mistaken. It’s actually MAR-kay. Some of you may be old enough to remember the old margarine commercial. “You think it’s butter but it’s not, it’s Parkay.” It’s the same general principle.
Mike at the Visitor Center in downtown Nacogdoches shared a little history and the correct pronunciation of this oldest town in Texas. Watch it right here. Hope this helps you with the name of the largest producer of blueberries in the state. It’s pronounced nack-uh-DOE-chess.
Here’s a map of the entire trip, in case you want to try it yourself.
What’s It All Mean?
As a graduate with an English major, I got a much clearer picture why people at times say the English language is so confusing. Looks can be deceiving. Spelling can be even more deceiving.
The one thing that all these towns and cities had in common were the good people of the Lone Star State. We approached random strangers over three days and asked them to represent their communities on video and allow us to share their comments on social media and this blog. What did they all have in common?
The meaning of Texas is friends and these perfect strangers demonstrated the friendliness of this beautiful state. Having Darla with me to experience it made this fun and educational road trip all the better.
I’m happy Darla and I got to take the trip. I still have so many mispronounced Texas towns and cities to explore. I’m also glad to get back to the Official World Headquarters of How Big Is Texas. Until next time, safe travels!