Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to pronounce "Oregon"

First of all let me say that I love Oregon. Always knew I would and there has been no disappointment on that account. Especially the western half. Green, lush, mountains, water, crisp air, warm people. What's not to like. However I have recently discovered that I have never pronounced the name properly. I think I say it like everyone else back east but that is not how they say it here. I first noted a problem when I was in Denver. Someone asked me where we were going next and I said, "Oregon". I got a blank stare of not understanding. I repeated where we were going. Same stare. Someone else said, "I think he means "Oregon". "Oh, Oregon!" It all sounded the same to me.

I have always pronounced Oregon with 3 distinct syllables. A very slight accent on the first syllable but basically a smilar stress on all 3. The first syllable was said "are" as in, "Are you awake yet?". The second was "re" as in repeat.  The final syllable was something between "gun" and "gan" as in gang. A hard g and a short diphthong


The natives say it very differently. Oregon does not have 3 syllables. It does not have 2 syllables. It has precisely 2.3 syllables. The closest I can describe it is to say "organ". Then add a just the slightest puff of a middle syllable like ruh or ah. I really think most Oregonians would understand if you just said "organ". Certainly better than if you said, "ARE-re-gun."  So that is what I am trying to say, organ.

Welcome to Organ!


P.S. If there are any Oregonian linguists out there, please pitch in and help me out. I want to pronounce the name of your state correctly.


  1. Sounds like you've got it, Frank! :)

    Also Willamette is wil-LAM-ette. My mom had trouble with that one when she first moved up here.


  2. Here's and email from some friends who have not yet figured out how to comment on the blog directly.

    Frank and Debbie,

    Miss you now that you organ to organ!

    Michael & Karla

    Also I heard on TV yesterday that no one won the Organ Lottery yet. Well it may have been the Oregon Lottery but it sure sounded like the Organ Lottery.

  3. I'm starting to look like a stalker on your blog. Welcome to ORGAN :) haha. I might have been one of those blank stares...

  4. Yeh, I think it was at Alumafandango that I first realized that no one understood ARE-re-gun or Ore-ee-GON or however I said it. May have been you or Dan, among several. Organ! Organ! I practice 10 times a day.

    Marlene, you can stalk all you want!