From Aaliyah to Zilwaukee: A definitive guide to pronouncing people, places, things in Michigan

Jan 24, 2017

Do you know the proper way to pronounce the community of Presque Isle and the county of Presque Isle? (Hint: they are different). Or how about the cities of Charlotte or Milan? How many non-Michiganders have you heard mispronounce Mackinac Island?

There's no shortage of Michigan towns, locations and personalities with, let's say, challenging pronunciations. If you're a Michigander, a visitor, or anything in between, there is now a definitive guide for these tricky words or names. 

The Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library now gives people audio and phonetic pronunciations for more than 2,200 places, people and things in or connected to Michigan.

Bill Robinson is state director of the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons and he joined Stateside to explain how this project got started and how it will be maintained going forward.

"The idea actually originated from some of our volunteer readers and our braille talking books library staff because there are so many different ways to pronounce or maybe mispronounce Michigan names," Robinson says.

"They thought it would be a good chance for everybody to get on board with the correct pronunciation and it would also save our readers time. Instead of having to go ask somebody, they can just click on the mp3 file, understand how to pronounce it, and then use it in one of our audio books that serves blind and visually impaired people," he says.

Listen to the full interview above to hear how the guide ensures the pronunciation of a particular word is the "correct" one and who makes that decision. 

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