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Politicians play Nevada name game -- and lose

November 20, 2009 | 12:07 pm

Nevada slots 

Every election cycle in the Silver State, some public figure makes the same blunder. They – or one of their surrogates – mispronounce the state’s name.

Here, it’s Nuh-VAD-uh.

Not Nuh-VAHD-uh.

Nuh-VAD-uhns are sensitive to this. We’re not sure why. More than two-thirds of residents were born outside the state and a number of them swear they’re only staying for a year (and then never leave). But President Bush and Sen. John Kerry both caught flack for not realizing that the second syllable rhymes with “dad.” Same with TV newsmen George Stephanopoulos and Brian Williams. Just_fabulous

State Democrats, in the run-up to the 2008 presidential caucus, apparently sent all their candidates a welcome guide that included the correct pronunciation: Nuh-VAD-uh. And yet, this cycle’s campaign ads are already mangling the state’s name, which is Spanish for "snow-capped." (In Spanish, it would be pronounced Neh-VAH-dah.)

This summer, the National Education Assn. ran radio ads cheering Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose poll numbers could use a little pep as he seeks reelection in 2010. But the spot’s narrator repeatedly butchered Nuh-VAD-uh.

This week, Danny Tarkanian, one of the gaggle of Republicans who hope to unseat Reid, released a Web ad mocking how federal stimulus dollars were reported as going to congressional districts that didn't exist.  But the narration pronounced the state as Nuh-VAHD-uh.

One wonders how this might play out in Mi-ZOOR-ee, a.k.a. Mi-ZOOR-ah. Incidentally, in the western part of the Show Me State, there's a town called Nevada. But there it’s pronounced Nuh-VADE-uh.

-- Ashley Powers

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Top photo: Bloomberg. Bottom photo: Associated Press.