How to Say Those Unpronounceable New York City Place Names


Thanks to the pronunciation experts at the New York Times City Room blog, who told us the right way to say “Van Wyck” just weeks ago — a Netherlands native says it’s “Fon Weg”; do with that what you will — we now know how to say three other place names that previously likely befuddled and bewildered you, should you have ever had cause to say them. The Times, who actually aren’t pronunciation experts (per se) but know people who are (and that’s half the battle), reports that they went to native speakers of the “mother tongue in question” to find out how to say the three most requested location tongue-trippers in NYC: Sputyen Duyvil, the Kosciuszko Bridge, and the Goethals Bridge.

What did they find? According to their native-tongue experts:

Spuyten Duyvil, in Riverdale, is pronounced “SPY-ten DYE-vil”
The Kosciuszko Bridge is “kash-CHOOV-ska”
The Goethals Bridge takes a soft g, and comes out rather like “Hoot-huls”

As for what to do when you inevitably stumble on a new word you don’t know how to say, take the Times’ advice and 1) go to a native speaker or 2) go to the New York Times. They love this stuff! Meanwhile, Gothamist had a third option: Go to a traffic reporter. NY1’s Jamie Shupak advised,

Spuyten Duyvil: SPY-ten DYE-vil
Kosciuszko: Kah-She-Yoo-Sko
Goethals: Gah-thuls

There you go, then.

Pronouncing the Unpronounceable [NYT via Gothamist]