LANCASTER (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas is full of wonderful, interesting places. But, to newcomers, some of them may seem a little unusual in the way they’re pronounced.
For example: San Antonio is in Bexar County. It’s pronounced “Bear,” not “Bex-ar.”
You’ll have the locals laughing at you if you say “MEX-ia,” instead of “Muh-HAY-uh.”
Navarro County is pronounced “Navair-oh,” not “Na-var-oh,” and it’s “Alva-RAY-doh”, not “Alva-RAH-doh.”
And we recently visited Lancaster to find out why it’s pronounced “Lang-k’s-ter” instead of “LAN-caster,” as many people assume.
City manager Opal Mauldin-Robertson explained it this way. “We’re called ‘Lang-k’s-ter’ because our founding father was from Lancaster, Kentucky. And the name is pronounced ‘Lang-k’s-ter,’ so we always say to keep the ‘kiss’ in ‘Lang-k’s-ter.'”
One great resource for any resident is the Texas Almanac Pronunciation Guide. It was assembled in the late 1940’s by a Baylor University graduate student, and accurately reflects proper pronunciations.
Of course, another helpful tool is knowing an actual descendant of a town’s namesake, as I do. Tracy Rowlett is a news legend in this market. He retired in 2008 after nearly 35 years in DFW television news — the last nine years of which as my dear friend and co-anchor.
And while many people feel they may know him well due to his nightly presence in their homes, they may not know that the City of Rowlett was named after one of his ancestors. “Daniel Owen Rowlett, for whom this town is named,” said Rowlett, “was many things. He was a doctor, a lawyer and a surveyor. He was a true pioneer.”
He fought for Texas independence, settling in Fannin County in 1836. His hundreds of acres of land stretched from the Red River to Collin County.
“The creek that ran through there — because it was all his land — took his name: Rowlett Creek. Rowlett Creek today flows through this area and into Lake Ray Hubbard. And when the railroad came through, the railroad picked up the name: ROW-lit,” said Rowlett.
And that’s something to consider the next time you hear someone say “Row-LETT.” Be sure to set them straight — and welcome them to Texas.