Archive for Sunday, August 25, 2013

How do you say that? A primer on pronunciation

August 25, 2013


How to say it

A guide to “correct” pronunciation of some of the more confusing KU building names:

Horejsi Family Athletics Center


Max Kade Center


Stauffer-Flint Hall


Stauffer Place Apartments


Budig Hall


Anschutz Library


Learned Hall


Lied Center


Malott Hall


Twente Hall


On the Kansas University campus, great pride is taken in following traditions of past university leaders and students. Often, it is easy to distinguish the new students from the seasoned ones based on their knowledge of KU’s culture — and how they pronounce names of the 150 campus buildings and other landmarks.

Names such as the Lied Center (pronounced LEED) or Learned Hall (pronounced LERN-ed) look easy enough, but their actual pronunciations are different from what a non-KU cultured student may expect.

So how do you figure out the correct way to pronounce a name?

“We get these questions (about building names) every single day,” says Curtis Marsh, director of KU Info, which tracks the university’s history and culture.

KU’s building directory is online, at, and it includes a guide to how the university administration wants the buildings’ names to be pronounced.

But there still is controversy and confusion. There are alternative pronunciations based on what students and community members call the buildings.

The names of three places on campus that are questioned most often: Haworth Hall, the Campanile and Fraser Hall.

Marsh cites pronunciations provided by the building directory, but he is sure to inform anyone asking about the alternative pronunciations because students don’t always say the name of the building the way the building directory says to.

“The alternate pronunciations are not inaccurate; they are culturally different,” Marsh said.

For instance, the building directory says Haworth Hall is pronounced HAH-worth, but many people refer to the building as HAY-worth.

“Most people pronounce it a different way than the (supposed) correct pronunciation,” Marsh said. “This is one that people constantly question.”

Similarly, the Campanile, which is pronounced camp-uh-NEE-lee, is often called camp-un-ile or camp-an-ile by those unfamiliar with KU. Another common pronunciation, camp-uh-NEEL, isn’t technically correct, but many students and staff refer to it that way. The same happens for Fraser Hall. It is pronounced FRAY-zer, but often is referred to as FRAY-zhur.

Many of the buildings on campus are named after actual people, making the pronunciation even more difficult to figure out. To know the correct way to say the person and building’s name, it is necessary to know how the family said the name.

Whether you choose to follow the directory’s way or the alternative, technically there is no right or wrong.

“Language changes, so there really isn’t something that’s correct,” said Jie Zhang, associate professor and director of graduate studies in phonology. “What’s used is what eventually becomes correct.”


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