What's in a name? Often a botched pronunciation

Posted4/27/2015 12:54 PM

"You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart."

At least that's how one of my favorite Carole King songs begins.


Back in my college days, when one summer I worked the early morning switchboard shift at the Muncie Star, I took calls from disgruntled subscribers who didn't receive their daily newspaper. I was taught to keep a smile on my face because folks can hear it in your voice every time you answer the phone.

On the other end of the phone, for more than 22 years in Naperville, I've also had a bunch of good laughs, listening to telemarketers try to sell me stuff in my thriving hometown they referred to as "NAP-er-ville."

These days, some people think if you're smiling and enjoying life, you can't be serious.

I'm serious.

Ever since Mayor George Pradel (rhymes with cradle) took office 20 years ago, it's been easy to identify folks who'd like you to think they know the mayor better than they do.

Some would say, "My good friend Mayor PRAT-dle (rhymed with rattle) or "When I met with Mayor PRAH-tle (rhymed with bottle) the other day …"

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About 11 years ago, during Mayor Pradel's ninth year of elected service, I thought it would be fun to use this space to help folks pronounce his last name as well as the surnames of local leaders often featured in print.

Back then, Peter Burchard was city manager for our council/manager form of government. I'd listen as folks butchered "BURR-cherd," which rhymes with nurtured.

My aim was an attempt to eliminate embarrassing faux pas that occurred in conversation, and especially when folks addressed the city council during public comments.

Soon after, Doug Krieger (Kree-Gurr) became city manager. Easy enough, you'd think. But Krieger often is misspoken, too, pronounced as though he's from the family that makes bratwurst and sausages over on Ellsworth.


Getting back to our longest-serving mayor …

Even during this recent election campaign, one of the candidates instigated a robocall that included a recorded sound bite of the mayor's enthusiastic support. Likely reading from a script, the caller said, "Here's a message from Mayor 'Prah-DELLE'…" He rhymed it with gazelle.

Then on the evening of April 7, when a radio newsman was recapping winners in the election, he mispronounced our newly elected mayor's last name.

I thought, "Here we go again!"

So here's an updated primer, of sorts, in case you've only seen names of Naperville elected officials in print.

For this exercise, the accented syllable is all CAPS. Here goes:

Mayor Steve Chirico (CHAIR-ih-co)

Councilmen Paul Hinterlong (HINT-er-long), Patty Gustin (GUST-in), Rebecca Boyd-Obarski (oh-BAR-skee), Becky Anderson, Judy Brodhead (BROAD-head), Kevin Coyne (COIN), John Krummen (CRUMB-men) and Kevin Gallaher (GAL-ah-her and note there's no "g" before the third syllable.)

Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners President Mike Reilly (RYE-lee).

Commissioners Marie Todd, Rich Janor (JAN-er), Kirsten Young, Bill Eagan (EE-gun), Gerry Heide (HIGH-Dee) and newly elected Jim Ensign (EN-son).

School District 203 Board of Education President Jackie Romberg (RAHM-berg).

Board members Suzyn Price, Susan Crotty (KROT-tee), Mike Jaensch (YENCH), Terry Fielden, Kristen Fitzgerald, Donna Wandke (WAND-Kee).

School District 204 Board of Education President Lori Price.

Board members Cathy Piehl (PEEL), Maria Curry, Mike Raczak (RAY-zack), Mark Rising, Justin Karubas (Kah-ROO-bus) and Benjamin White.

Now if everyone were to pronounce correctly the names of elected officials serving our local governing bodies, perhaps citizens could credit them properly with the important policies and budgets they approve.

Listen and learn, mindful that roughly 75 percent of local property taxes support public schools, 13 percent funds the city, 5 percent is for the Naperville Park District and the remainder is divided among various entities, including College of DuPage.

The other day, when I stopped by city hall, I found myself looking at the photographs of past municipal leaders hanging there in the Gallery of Honor -- all the men with Margaret "Peg" Price, Naperville's only woman to have served as mayor.

The photos, many without smiles, are historical references to dedicated service, as well as memories of what's in a name.

And many of us always will remember the smiles and greetings of the faithful, friendly mayor at various gatherings as he worked the crowd. "Hi, my name is George."

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