What's In a Name?
Since moving up to Chaffee (CHAY-fee, not CHAFF-ee) County, named after Colorado's first US Senator, I have discovered there's a whole different way of talking in this neck of the woods. I live in the small town of Nathrop which is pronounced “NAY-thrip”. The town is named after Charles Nachtrieb who owned the town site, but apparently no one knew how to pronounce his name, so they just did the best they could.
Eight miles north of me lies the cool, friendly and beautiful town of Buena Vista. As you probably know it means “good view” in Spanish and before moving here I always said it kind of the Spanish way, something like “BuWAYna Vista”. I quickly noticed everyone else here calls it “Bewnie” (“Bew” rhymes with “hew”) and it drives my anal side nuts. I can't bring myself to say “Bewnie” out loud. Other people simply say “BV”, and after extensive training that is now my method of choice.
But I was curious as to why people around here can't say it correctly. Here's the explanation from the buenavistacolorado.org website:
“The town’s name has been pronounced “BEW-na Vista” instead of the Spanish “BWAY-na Vista” ever since it was founded. Its nickname is “BEW-nie.” It all came about at a meeting in 1879, when residents and property owners in the area at the convergence of Cottonwood Creek and the Arkansas River held a meeting to create a formal community. They had been told that would help attract a railroad line (eventually it attracted three). Two names were proposed by attendees: Collegiate Peaks, after the mountains in the area, and Buena Vista, which means “beautiful view” in Spanish, certainly an appropriate description.
Alsina Dearheimer, the resident and property owner who suggested the name Buena Vista, certainly knew how the Spanish words were pronounced, her first husband having been a language and music professor. But she insisted that the pronunciation for the town name be Americanized into “BEW-na,” borrowing the first syllable of the English word beautiful. Her suggestion carried the day. An interesting anomaly was born, and Dearheimer became known as the Mother of BEW-na Vista. To this day long time residents carry on the tradition and say “Bewna Vista”. If it is hard for visitors to swallow, it is suggested they just say “BEWNIE” or BV.”
Then there's the larger and just as appealing town to my south, Salida. Salida sits at the western end of the Arkansas River canyon and used to be called “Arkansas South”. In Spanish “salida” means “exit” or “outlet” so it certainly makes sense name-wise. But once again the pronunciation was Americanized to “Sa-LIE-da” instead of the Spanish “Sa-LEE-da”, although I can't find any explanation of that online.
No matter what people call these places, I am very happy to now call them “home”. One of these Friday nights I am going to be a real local and head to The Rope* in Bewnie to hear some live music. Cap-EESH?
*That's local-speak for “The Lariat”, a good restaurant and bar on Main Street.