Thursday, July 20, 2006

Readers have a variety of pronunciations for Tejon, Cucharras and other downtown streets

QUESTION: Where can the information can be found on how to correctly pronounce many of the downtown street names. i.e. Cache La Poudre; Costilla; Cucharras; Vermijo, etc. and also the origins of the names. I remember seeing this but cannot locate the source.
- Jenny Trejo

ANSWER: We asked readers if they've spotted a how-to-say-it guide with street-name histories. We didn’t find a printed guide, but readers had hints — and a variety of pronunciations.

Stephen Swanson recommended Marshall Sprague’s “Newport in the Rockies which explains that the north-south streets downtown (Cascade, Nevada, Tejon) were named for mountain ranges, and the east-west streets for rivers and river valleys (Bijou, Kiowa, Colorado).

Another reader pointed out the presidents’ names and other streets honoring Civil War generals such as Meade, Sheridan and Farragut.

Swanson’s pronunciation guide included:
Tejon (Tee-hone)
Vermijo (Ver-me-ho)
Cache La Poudre (Cash La Poo-dre)
Costilla (Cos-tee-a)
Cucharras (Coo-char-ass)

Colorado native Spence Cutting had a different take on a few of the area’s Spanish words, saying, "I can only guess that these names fall into the same category of mis-pronunciation of Spanish words that we Coloradoans (sic) seem to be prone to. For example, Buena Vista (good view in Spanish), which should correctly be pronounced Bwayna Veesta (the “a” is long), is pronounced by most as Byuoona Vista (the “u” is long as in beautiful). And Salida (meaning exit) which should be Saleeda, becomes Sal “I” da (as in I, the personal pronoun).

Here are his regional pronunciations for the downtown streets:
“Cache La Poudre is Caash (rhyming with gosh) La Pooder (ou is like poo) or Pood Ray. Named after a river (that was) named after a French explorer/beaver trapper who stashed some of his supplies in the early 1800s, primarily beaver pelts (or cached them, as it was called then) near this river. The Cache of Msr. Pourdre or the stash of Mr. Poudre.
“Costilla — Cost eeya — the “i” becoming “eeee” like bee. Which means “chop” as in pork chop, or “cutlet.”
“Cucharras — Coo char os (rhymes with boss). Means spoon or ladle or tablespoon.
“Vermijo — No Spanish equivalent. Ver Mih Ho (with a slight ee sound to the Mih). It could be a corruption of Bermejo, which means reddish in color, or Ver mi hijo (to see my boy or son)
“Tejon. Correctly pronounced, Tay Hone (rhymes with bone). Meaning badger, or gold ingot or disk. I’ve heard it pronounced Tee John, Tay John, Tee Hone, etc.
“In the 53 years that I have lived in Colorado, I have heard Spanish names literally butchered by native Coloradoans (sic), but this is how language, especially English continues to evolve."

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Anonymous Stephen Swanson said...

In Colorado Springs, the North-South running streets are named after mountain ranges, while the East-West streets North of Pikes Peak Av. are named after rivers or streams north of Colorado Springs, and the streets South of Pikes Peak Av. are named after rivers or streams south of Colorado Springs with Spanish sounding names.

Tejon is (Tee-hone)
Vermijo is (Ver-me-ho)
Cache La Poudre is (Cash La Poo-dre)
Costilla is (Cos-tee-a)
Cucharras is (Coo-char-ass)

This is referenced in Marshall Sprague's "Newport in the Rockies", pg 19-20.

2:49 PM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous Tito said...

What is the proper pronouncination for Bijou?

9:10 PM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous Doorfan said...

As one who lives near Fort Tejon between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, California, and was born and raised near the fort (and the mountain pass with the same name - Tejon Pass by the legendary Grapevine), the pronounciation for Tejon is "Tay-hone." We never say "Tee-jone" and go with the Spanish language pronounciation (for example, we say "aystraya" for the spanish word estrella - star in English - and not "eestreeya."

As for Bijou, as a former member of First Presbyterian Church located on Bijou Street in Colorado Springs during my college days, the church leaders have always pronounced it as "Beejoo." In my last visit there in 2004 that remained the case.

The other pronounciation examples already given are correct to my knowledge.

There is perhaps a stylebook/pronounciation guide used by the local Colorado Springs media which might confirm what I and the others here are saying. Good work by Mr. Swanson. . . always nice to see references.

11:04 AM, July 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a third-generation Californian, I've never heard Anglos give a Spanish pronunciation "ay" to the first "e" in "estrella" unless they're speaking Spanish. It would sound rather overly mannered. The common pronunciaton is uh-strey-yah or even uh-strell-uh for oldtimers. II've heard the initial syllable of Tejon be destressed to the point of tuh-hone, but this may be nonlocal only.

7:05 AM, February 22, 2016  

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