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Back when I was anchoring a morning show in the Midwest, I made the mistake of not immediately learning how to properly pronounce the names of towns + cities in our viewing area. I’ll never forget the morning I said “Milan” the same way I would say it as if I was referring to the city in Northern Italy. But this was Eastern Illinois/Western Iowa– and there they pronounced it MY-lun.
You would have thought I kidnapped a puppy the way the switchboard lit up. My boss dragged me down into his office and told me how I’d lose the audience’s credibility if I didn’t learn how to say things the right way.
Needless to say, I became a quick study– and when I moved here to Charleston, I made sure not to repeat past mistakes. Is your pronunciation game strong? Try saying the following locals out loud:
- Barre Street
- The Gaillard Center
- Huger Street
- Lesesne Street
Feeling confident? Or maybe a little confused? Keep scrolling to find the correct way to correctly name some of Charleston’s most eccentric-sounding spots.
BARRE– To improve their strength, posture, and flexibility, many women turn to an exercise called the Barre (sounds like ‘bar’) Method which incorporates ballet moves. This is not the way we say the word in Charleston. Here it is pronounced like ‘berry’.
BEAUFORT– One of the most popular destination spots in the Lowcountry is the picturesque coastal town of Beaufort. I took French in high school + college so I thought the proper way to say it was BO-fort. But it’s actually BYOU-fert.
But, if you happen to find yourself in Beaufort, North Carolina– forget what I just told you. There, they say BO-furt.
Similarly, ‘Beaufain Street’ is pronounced BYOU-fane.
DAUFUSKIE– I remember the first time I saw this word. It was while reading an article in The Post and Courier. Fortunately, I was reading by myself and didn’t have to say it aloud because I would have butchered it. The way to pronounce Daufuskie is duh-FUH-ski.
GAILLARD– You can hardly go a day in the Holy City without seeing the word, ‘Gaillard’. Not only is it a popular surname, but it’s also the name of our performing arts center. Initially I thought it was Gayle-yard, but I was soon corrected. The proper way to say it is gil-YARD.
HASSELL– How would you pronounce Hassell? Like hassle, right? Wrong. Here in the Lowcountry, it’s HAZE-ul.
HORRY– If, as a kid, I’d pronounced Horry like the way it looks, my mother would surely have sent me to my room for being disrespectful to women. But the ‘H’ is silent, so you’ll want to say OH-ree.
HUGER– HEW-JERR? HUE-JEE? HUH-GEE? No, no, and definitely not. ‘Huger’ is correctly pronounced you-JEE.
LEGARE– Despite seeing this word countless times, I still pronounce it luh-gare. Old timers usually give me a dirty look when I do this. Avoid the same fate as me and say it properly. It’s luh-GREE.
LESESNE– Lesesne is pronounced luh-SANE– as in, it’s insane how much the spelling + pronunciation of this street differ from one another.
MANIGAULT– The only reason I know the proper way to say Manigault is because I know a guy here in town with that last name. Had I not gotten the pronunciation from him, I probably would have said, manny-GAULT. But it’s actually MAN-uh-go.
MAZYCK– Say what? This name requires a double-take before even making a first attempt at its pronunciation– and you’ll still likely get it wrong. This street name is pronounced muh-ZEKE.
PRIOLEAU– This is another one of those words that even locals have a hard time pronouncing. I initially thought the right way to say it was pre-oh-low. But the correct way is PRAY-lo.
SIMONS– Simon says, ‘you don’t pronounce Simons Street like the name Simon.’ It’s actually pronounced SIMM-uns.
VANDERHORST– There is debate over the official pronunciation. Some contend it is ‘VAN-DROSS’, but some old school Charlestonians will insist it’s pronounced as spelled– with all three syllables.
– Charleston resident, former journalist, + real estate agent B.J. D’elia