Is it KALadarr or KalaDAYRE? MOYR-a or Moe-EYE-ra?

Moira Lake sign

Name that lake: how would you pronounce “Moira”?

Because I’m interested in language, I tend to pay attention to the way people speak wherever I happen to be. Accents and regional dialects and pronunciations fascinate me. And the Hastings County/Eastern Ontario/North of 7 region where Raymond and I now live does not disappoint when it comes to regionalisms.

While there’s lots to report on that subject, tonight I thought I’d stick to the variations in pronunciations of some place names.

Kaladar signOne such variation that I remember well from my childhood growing up here at the Manse in Queensborough was how people pronounced the name of Kaladar, a village about 25 miles to the east of us on Highway 7. Some people said “KALadarr (with the emphasis on the first syllable and the “a” in the second syllable short like the a in “cat”), while many others said “KalaDAYRE” (with the emphasis on the final syllable and the “a” long like in “care”). According to the rules of English pronunciation it should be the former, but in my experience the latter pronunciation is more common, most especially among those who have lived in the area all their lives. Because, you see, the dichotomy in pronunciation wasn’t just back in the years of my childhood; upon my return to this area, I have discovered that it very much still exists. Interesting.

And then there’s a very common name, Moira. In central/south Hastings County there is a major lake by that name, and a major river, and also a hamlet. My unscientific research has reached the conclusion that it’s about half and half between those who pronounce Moira as MOYR-a and those who say Moe-EYE-ra. Me, I go for the former, but what does that mean? Who’s to say which is right and which is wrong?

Because it’s all part of the local colour, isn’t it? Life would be rather dull if we all did and said things the same way. Including how we pronounce the places around us.

14 thoughts on “Is it KALadarr or KalaDAYRE? MOYR-a or Moe-EYE-ra?

  1. KalaDAIR or KalaDAYRE would be accredited to what’s commonly referred to as ‘The Ottawa Valley Twang’. Most commonly this pronunciation might be found by those who grew up in the Valley. Much the same as ‘Gidday’ or ‘Chewsday’ or ‘Thairsday’ and quite possibly also accounts for ‘burries’ and ‘churries’. Oh and let’s not forget ‘Sayerday’ too. I’ve been ‘corrected’ on these and many more by those who didn’t grow up in the valley. 😉

    • I think you are absolutely right! The “Valley Twang” explanation makes a lot of sense when it comes to KalaDAYRE. And I had to smile at your reference to “Sayerday” – boy, does that take me back!

  2. Note that the village on Highway 62 is Eldor-AY-do and not Eldor- AH-do which, to local ears, sounds too Spanish or foreign or something.

    • And that’s an interesting one, Doris. I find myself correcting Raymond when he (as non-natives invariably do, understandably) forgets and pronounces it “Eldor-AH-do” – but meanwhile, thanks to my years as a reporter in Port Hope, home of the EldorAHdo uranium refinery (though the company is now called Cameco), I sometimes forget the right pronunciation myself!

    • I agree with your pronunciation choices, Scott, and you have the geo-credibility (I just made that up) – that is, the roots in the area – to back them up. But as I know you know, many others with equally deep local roots would beg to differ.

      • Moira in Ireland, which I presume is the inspiration for the placename, is pronounced MOYra.

      • Thank you, W from Ireland! I am absolutely sure that our Moira is named for your Moira, and I am pleased to hear that my preferred pronunciation is the correct one – at least as far as the Irish are concerned!

    • That’s an interesting essay, Graham – thanks for the link. I particularly noted the section on hard consonants getting softened. My favourite example of that locally is people (and there are lots of them) who pronounce Quinte “Quinney.”

  3. What about GELert or gelERT? I know someone who came from there who uses the latter pronunciation but others (like your Mother) uses the former.
    Another interesting one is CANberra or CanBERRA in Australia?. People who live there use the former, but others in the rest of the country often use the latter.

    • Good examples, Margaret! My family stands firm on the GELert pronunciation for our ancestral home, one reason being that that is also the Welsh pronunciation and it is a Welsh name. That in interesting about Canberra – I had only ever heard the CANberra pronunciation, as far as I can recall.

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