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People in the state of Nevada insist that it should be pronounced /nəˈvædə/ (with the vowel of TRAP)—this "issue" always comes up during campaigns—while much of the country typically pronounces it /nəˈvɑːdə/ (with the vowel of PALM). Is one correct over the other or are they both equal?

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closed as general reference by MετάEd, J.R., Matt Эллен, tchrist, Mitch Oct 12 '12 at 14:59

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Recorded pronunciation is /nɪˈvɑːdə/ –  Matt Эллен Oct 12 '12 at 8:19
    
FWIW, I grew up in California and we always pronounced it with the TRAP vowel—i.e., correctly. –  nohat Oct 22 '12 at 17:02
    
Nevada has the a of FATHER, not of PALM. PALM has the vowel of Paul. –  tchrist Oct 22 '12 at 21:43
    
@Matt: that's the Oxford Dictionaries Online's British pronunciation. Their American pronunciation is /nəˈvædə/ or /nəˈvɑdə/, which corresponds to what I hear in the U.S. –  Peter Shor Oct 22 '12 at 21:43
    
@tchrist: PALM has the vowel of FATHER in the U.K. and parts of the U.S. –  Peter Shor Oct 22 '12 at 21:44

1 Answer 1

According to Wikipedia,

The name "Nevada" comes from the Spanish Nevada [neˈβaða], meaning "snow-covered", after the Sierra Nevada ("snow-covered mountains") mountain range.

Nevadans normally pronounce the second syllable of their state name using the /æ/ vowel of "bad". Many from outside the Western United States pronounce it with the /ɑː/ vowel of "father" /nəˈvɑːdə/. Although the latter pronunciation is closer to the Spanish pronunciation, it is not the pronunciation preferred by locals.

You can hear the difference on Forvo which has a number of users from around the US pronouncing Nevada, including one person (dgrahame) from Reno. In terms of right and wrong (as these things go), considering its Spanish roots, /nəˈvɑːdə/ is more "right" than /nəˈvædə/. But, as George Dubya discovered, when in Rome ...

Notably, George W. Bush made this faux pas during his campaign for the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election. Vindication later came when President Bush campaigned at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on June 18, 2004. The president opened his talk by proclaiming that "It's great to be here in Nevada /nəˈˈvædə/," emphasizing the correct 'a' – the crowd roared its approval when he light-heartedly noted, "You didn't think I'd get it right, did ya?" Bush subsequently carried the state in the election.

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