Maysville Kentucky Blog

The Maysville Kentucky Blog is your guide to the beautiful and historic small town of Maysville Kentucky, snuggled into the rolling hills along the Ohio River. Though this blog has been discontinued, you can get your Maysville Kentucky fix over at Ken Downing's Mason County Kentucky Blog @ http://masoncountyky.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pardon My French

Marquis de Lafayette was a national hero in both France and the United States for his participation in the French and American revolutions for which he became an Honorary Citizen of the United States. His real name was Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette (now say that five times fast!) Of course to the Kentucky tongue he is known simply as "Lafayette".

When Marquis de Lafayette visited Kentucky in 1824-25 (see mural depiction downtown), Kentuckians were so enamored of the guy that they began giving French names to everything they could think of. And we've been butchering the pronunciation of the names ever since : )

For example, Lexington resides in Fayette County, named for Lafayette. No one knows what happened to the "La" and it ended up being pronounced "FAY-et" county, though Lafayette is properly pronounced "La-FEET"! Ha! Ah well, I guess our Lexington friends would rather live in Fayette County than Feet County. Then you've got Versailles, Kentucky, pronounced "ver-sales" around here instead of the proper "ver-sai". Louisville is neither the Anglicanized "Louis-ville" nor the more French "Lou-ie-ville," but simply the Kentucky fried "Lou-vull". Mon Dieu!

3 Comments:

Jeremy said...

Lol, I don't speak french. Here's one example where they say it is pronounced La-Feet (third paragraph down)

http://aerofiles.com/lafayesc.html

From what I gather poking around, La-Feet is the Old French way of pronunciation, not the modern way.

But I've also seen La-Fee-Et as well, and even La-Fuh-Et in modern usage.

1:24 AM
said...

Where did you get the mistaken notion that "Lafayette" is pronounced "La-FEET"? Ce n'est pas vrai. At least, not in French. Apart from that "bourde" (as the French would say), you are quite correct to point out the interesting French influence on Kentucky place names and the funny way Kentuckians mispronounce them. Not that it's limited to French names. There's a little town called Yosemite in Casey Co. that the locals pronounce Yo-seh-mite. You can check it out in Wikipedia. I can remember it because I once went to a church camp near there, back when I was a Maysvillian.

10:03 PM
said...

Well we didn't stop with Kentucky.
There are literally thousands of words we use every day that are French. Guess the English and French had a thing going. Check out a French-English dictionary sometime.

2:35 PM

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