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How do you pronounce Nagano?

Dear Matthew:

All the TV commentators made it abundantly clear that Nagano is pronounced NAG-a-no. In my Random House Unabridged, 1971 edition, the verdict: Na-GAN-o. Merriam-Webster dictionary on the Internet, the verdict: Na-GA-no. I have this sinking feeling that today's TV commentators never learned how to use a dictionary but now are the de facto arbiters of pronunciation. The other possibility, that the dictionaries are wrong, is equally disquieting. Please, Matthew, can you provide some words of comfort?

-- John Terrell, Mad as hell and Nagano take it anymore

Words of comfort, eh. Well, how about, "They're all wrong." Feel better? The Japanese language has no formal system of stressed syllables. So the textbook "Nagano" should be "Na-ga-no," no inflection. CBS Sports in New York says they arrived at NAG-a-no after consulting with Japanese linguists and coming as close as they could to a true native Japanese pronunciation. Apparently many people put a nearly imperceptible emphasis on the first syllable. NAG-an-o, hitting the first syllable full force, is the best we lumbering Americans can do with this nuance of Japanese speech. Your dictionaries offer the Anglicized version of the town's name. English generally stresses the next-to-last syllable of a word, so we can't overcome the urge to do it to Nagano too.

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Dear Matthew:

All the TV commentators made it abundantly clear that Nagano is pronounced NAG-a-no. In my Random House Unabridged, 1971 edition, the verdict: Na-GAN-o. Merriam-Webster dictionary on the Internet, the verdict: Na-GA-no. I have this sinking feeling that today's TV commentators never learned how to use a dictionary but now are the de facto arbiters of pronunciation. The other possibility, that the dictionaries are wrong, is equally disquieting. Please, Matthew, can you provide some words of comfort?

-- John Terrell, Mad as hell and Nagano take it anymore

Words of comfort, eh. Well, how about, "They're all wrong." Feel better? The Japanese language has no formal system of stressed syllables. So the textbook "Nagano" should be "Na-ga-no," no inflection. CBS Sports in New York says they arrived at NAG-a-no after consulting with Japanese linguists and coming as close as they could to a true native Japanese pronunciation. Apparently many people put a nearly imperceptible emphasis on the first syllable. NAG-an-o, hitting the first syllable full force, is the best we lumbering Americans can do with this nuance of Japanese speech. Your dictionaries offer the Anglicized version of the town's name. English generally stresses the next-to-last syllable of a word, so we can't overcome the urge to do it to Nagano too.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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