A friend of mine who moved here from out of state was driving through the country with me last year. We passed through a small community – just a wide spot in the road, actually, called Himesville.
“You sure do have a lot of towns named ‘-ville’ here in Tennessee,” she said.
I couldn’t help but smile. “This really isn’t a town,” I explained. But lots of communities do hold onto their names, used more often in the past, to keep their identities. “But they have two churches and a storage building facility here with that name. So now you know where you are! Not so many ‘-villes’ where you used to live?”
“Not at all,” she replied.
Nashville is my home town. “NASH’vul” is the correct pronunciation. I went to college in Cookeville – COOKE’vul. If you say “Cooke-VILLE” you show that you are not from around here.
Tennessee also has KNOX’vul and CLARKS’vul, which are easy once you know the lingo. Some are a little trickier – Fayetteville is FED’vul to the locals. And Shelbyville – SHEB’vul, of course.
There are lots of other interesting town (or community) names, even though not villes, that must be pronounced properly:
- Santa Fe, where I first taught school – Santy Fee
- Culleoka, just as it looks, although locals say “Culley”
- Theta – Theeta, not the Greek “Thayta”
- Wartrace – WAR-trace, not WART-race – and not to be confused with Wartburg, which is WART-burg
- Lafayette – “Luh-FAY-itt,” not the French “LAH’-fee-eht”
- Hohenwald, Tullahoma, Neapolis, and Bell Buckle are fun names, too.
I love these names and these places. Yes, I love where I am from. An old state slogan, based on the music business, is so true: