beaucoup de villes

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:

3 thoughts on “beaucoup de villes

  1. kimashworth says:

    I love words and this just solidifies my love for names and words and the meaning they carry. I love this!
    -from West Hartford…..yes, we are west of Hartford!

  2. Anna Maria says:

    Oh Tennessee my second home. The love I have for this state is immense. Pigeon Forge/Knoxville own my heart and I’ve been there enough to know how to pronounce a lot of these places. Your state is simply beautiful.

  3. Fran Haley says:

    Place names fascinate me also. I am intrigued by how they can be spelled exactly alike yet pronounced completely different in different locations. Like Beaufort (Byoo-fort in SC, Bow-fort in NC). And I love stories of name origin!

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