Sometimes there’s no accounting for idiosyncratic pronunciations that are voiced in this great big country of ours. Native habits, regional dialects and just plain inattention could explain age-old Ne-VAD-a/Ne-VAH-da conflicts. So let’s call a truce in the battles over how to pronounce our state’s name, says outgoing state Assemblyman Harry Mortenson, D-Las Vegas. Mortenson has proposed a resolution that explicitly tolerates either of the two common pronunciations, while encouraging the preferred pronunciation, Ne-VAD-a, over the alternative Spanish pronunciation, Ne-VAH-da (which means “covered with snow”). “The reason I want the alternative is because I am terribly embarrassed for this great state at how many people will rudely interrupt someone and tell them that they’re pronouncing the name of the state wrong,” Mortenson says.
Among the most egregious episodes was when a Carson City audience razzed ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos after he used the alternative pronunciation during a Democratic Presidential forum in 2007. Since Mortenson will not be in the Legislature because of term limits, he is looking for a sponsor for the draft resolution. With the intransient bickering over the state’s budget woes, the resolution aspires to a level of tolerance not often seen ’round these parts.