Cover Photo by Mohit Singh on Unsplash

I was watching a video about Massachusetts, and every time the Berkshires was mentioned, the host pronounced it as “Berk-shires”.  It made my skin crawl every time I heard it, because that’s just not how we say it here!  You could tell he knew little about Western MA.  Lots of comments corrected him, saying it’s pronounced “Berk-sure” or even “Berk-sheer” at times, but never “Berk-Shire” County.

That said, I had to take a step back, because phonetically speaking, it does look like it should be pronounced Berk-Shire County.  This got me thinking, because even though I’m a native of Massachusetts, there are plenty of city and towns that I still have a hard time pronouncing, and I’ve lived in this state my entire life!

Below are some of my trouble ones…even though I know how they’re pronounced, it still takes my brain a moment to register and say them correctly!

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  • Leicester.  It’s pronounced “Les-ter”, but every time I see it, my mouth wants to say “Lie-ster”.
  • Tyngsborough.  It’s Tings-bur-oh.  What makes this embarrassing for me is our very own Tyringham here in Berkshire County, where I was born!  Why can I say “Tear-ing-ham” fine but not “Tings-bur-oh”?
  • Scituate.  I’ve given up on this one.  It’s pronounced “Sit-chew-it”…like sit down and chew it.
  • Methuen.  I always have trouble where to put the emphasis.  It’s “meh-thoo-in”.
  • Athol.  The “A” is like apple, with the emphasis up front…”A-thol”.
  • Needham.  This is another pretty basic one that just trips me up.  You don’t need ham, you “need-um”.

And here’s a bonus…do you say “Am-herst” or “Am-erst”?  I lived there for a time, so I’m curious what people say 😊

Of course, Massachusetts has LOTS more cities and towns with difficult names to pronounce.  What ones (if any) give you trouble, even if you’ve lived in Massachusetts your whole life?  Let us know in the comments!

LOOK: Route 66’s quirkiest and most wonderful attractions state by state

Stacker compiled a list of 50 attractions--state by state--to see along the drive, drawing on information from historic sites, news stories, Roadside America, and the National Park Service. Keep reading to discover where travelers can get their kicks on Route 66.

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