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Origins: pronunciation of RIO

GUEST,andy brown 08 Jun 15 - 11:31 PM
Don Firth 09 Jun 15 - 12:53 AM
Gurney 09 Jun 15 - 01:00 AM
MartinRyan 09 Jun 15 - 02:48 AM
GUEST,Grishka 09 Jun 15 - 03:35 AM
Musket 09 Jun 15 - 03:56 AM
GUEST,padgett 09 Jun 15 - 04:49 AM
Leadfingers 09 Jun 15 - 05:18 AM
Backwoodsman 09 Jun 15 - 05:35 AM
Dave Hanson 09 Jun 15 - 05:38 AM
Thompson 09 Jun 15 - 05:48 AM
Keith A of Hertford 09 Jun 15 - 06:06 AM
GUEST, topsie 09 Jun 15 - 07:14 AM
Richard Mellish 09 Jun 15 - 07:21 AM
GUEST, topsie 09 Jun 15 - 07:45 AM
Lighter 09 Jun 15 - 08:19 AM
Acme 09 Jun 15 - 09:26 AM
Backwoodsman 09 Jun 15 - 09:38 AM
Keith A of Hertford 09 Jun 15 - 10:27 AM
Jeri 09 Jun 15 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,just a-passin' through 09 Jun 15 - 10:52 AM
Snuffy 09 Jun 15 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Grishka 09 Jun 15 - 11:27 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Jun 15 - 12:51 PM
Backwoodsman 09 Jun 15 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,padgett 09 Jun 15 - 01:10 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Jun 15 - 01:34 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Jun 15 - 02:19 PM
Lighter 09 Jun 15 - 02:25 PM
Dave Hanson 09 Jun 15 - 02:33 PM
Gibb Sahib 09 Jun 15 - 02:41 PM
Ebbie 10 Jun 15 - 12:55 AM
GUEST 10 Jun 15 - 07:59 PM
Musket 11 Jun 15 - 04:10 AM
Gibb Sahib 11 Jun 15 - 12:00 PM
Gibb Sahib 11 Jun 15 - 12:04 PM
Lighter 11 Jun 15 - 02:59 PM
Snuffy 11 Jun 15 - 04:23 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 11 Jun 15 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,Guest Betsy 11 Jun 15 - 07:24 PM
Lighter 11 Jun 15 - 09:00 PM
Acme 12 Jun 15 - 12:06 AM
Ebbie 12 Jun 15 - 02:31 AM
Gibb Sahib 12 Jun 15 - 03:16 AM
Lighter 12 Jun 15 - 07:24 AM
Bill D 12 Jun 15 - 11:33 AM
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Subject: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST,andy brown
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 11:31 PM

Hi!!!

I've heard a lot of modern shanty groups sing Rio Grande pronouncing Rio as RYE-o which sounds horrible and incorrect to my ears...

Can anyone throw any light on to the reason for this affectation?

Thanks!!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 12:53 AM

That's the way I've always heard the song. Doesn't bother me....

Things like that happen with sea chanteys. For example, "Santy Anno," not "Santa Anna," the Mexican general to whom the line refers. There are many other examples.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Gurney
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 01:00 AM

From Shanties from the Seven Seas, by Stan Hugill.

A friend of mine, Mr. T. E. Elwell, a sailing-ship man and now (in 1966) caretaker of the Nautical Museum, Castletown, Isle of Man..... "Sailors,' he wrote, "sang Rye-O,' not Ree-O, for though they knew well it was called 'Ree-O,' that word was not a 'mouth-opener like Rye-O.'
Page 94, S.f.t.S.S.

So, following tradition?


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: MartinRyan
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 02:48 AM

Don't even mention "Chile"! ;>)>

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 03:35 AM

Traditions can be broken (for good reasons or others), but they can never be "corrected". Names have their own history when traveling through languages. Whether the speakers of the original language feel flattered or insulted by "mispronunciations" depends on their general feeling of being respected as ethnicities. Inhabitants of Paris or Moscow will rarely ask speakers of English to pronounce those names "correctly". On the contrary, the mentioning of "Paree" in American songs is often considered embarrassing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Musket
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 03:56 AM

I wrote a song called Rio Grand. Not Grande, but grand.

The pronunciation is Ree ohw.

As in "His name is Rio and he dances on the lawn."

As you can tell, I wrote it about my alleged greyhound.

Sorry for the interruption. Carry on.

Incidentally, we know much about how language was spoken in the past by examining rhymes in song, poetry and other doggerel. I wouldn't worry about two pronunciations myself. Many words get altered to fit a verse.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 04:49 AM

The problem is that RIO is Spanish for River and the vowel sounds in Spanish differ from the English!!

Clearly when written down Rye ~ O is English and Reeo is Spanish

So take yer pick

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 05:18 AM

NOT part of MY Rep , but I do sing the chorus - One friend sings Ree Oh and Pretty young girl , t'other sings Rye Oh and Bonny young girl . No problem with either .


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 05:35 AM

Does it matter? Any more than pronouncing 'America' as 'Ameri-kay'?
Pronunciations are changed **because** - it's Folk, FFS!


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 05:38 AM

Shantymen sang RYE OH, because they liked the sound and they liked changeing words etc.

In the context of sea shanty's RYE OH is correct.

Read Stan Hugill.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Thompson
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 05:48 AM

Same with Hooray and up she rises earlye in the morning - that pronunciation of "earlie" used to grate on me - it's presumably a modernism, some eejit having assumed that's how the old spelling should be pronounced - but at this stage I say what the hell, I'll worry about climate change instead.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 06:06 AM

English speakers used to pronounce place names as they were spelled.
We still say Paris and not Parree.
Chile is rhymed with "while" in the Frigate Amphitrite.
Cairo towns in US are still pronounced Kayro.

Then again, the spelling may well reflect how they were once pronounced.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 07:14 AM

Is it similar to pronouncing Iraq to rhyme with tie rack?


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 07:21 AM

MartinRyan said
Don't even mention "Chile"! ;>)>

OK, I won't. But I will mention that I sing a version of that song with these lines:
Farewell to Valparaiso, farewell to yon green isle.
Farewell to all those Spanish girls, farewell all for a while.

Grishka said
the mentioning of "Paree" in American songs is often considered embarrassing.

Perhaps because that pronunciation is neither one thing nor the other. Like pronouncing "lingerie" as "lonjerree", which reflects neither French nor English orthography.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 07:45 AM

Most English people seem to pronounce lingerie as larnjeray. Why don't they just call it underwear?


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 08:19 AM

Several, though not all, chantey collectors remarked that "Ry-o" was preferred.

Most all the old chanteymen who were recorded in the 1920s and '30s, however, sang "Ree-o." But maybe that was because they weren't really "chanteying": just singing into a microphone.

A similar situation holds for "earlye," though Hugill seems to be the only authority to say that it was common.

So sing what you like.

And wait for the audience of folkies to react.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Acme
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 09:26 AM

GUEST,padgett, RYE OH may be how the word Rio is pronounced in a chantey, but that isn't how the word is pronounced in US English speech. It is Ree-oh, pretty close to how it is pronounced in Spanish.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 09:38 AM

It's 'Ree-oh' in English English too, SRS.
Nobody but a Yorkshireman/woman can understand anything spoken in Yorkshire 'English'. 😜


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 10:27 AM

That is true now, but I think not in 19th Century.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Jeri
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 10:37 AM

"Ree-O" requires a certain nasality when singing, while "Rye-O" doesn't, and allows for more airflow and volume. That may be all there is to it. I think the "Amerikay" pronunciation may have happened for the rhyme.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST,just a-passin' through
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 10:52 AM

It's much more simple than that.

We live in a world where we are all surrounded by the influence of Spanish-speaking cultures. We've heard of ree-oh day jan-erro. ;)

The sailor of the days when that chantey was created would have more often than not been illiterate or barely above such. Someone reading "rio grande" in that context would have no reason to think ree-oh grahn-day, especially since in old English, things like shop could be spelled Shoppe and pronounced with the silent E.

Just my two cents.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Snuffy
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 11:12 AM

And not forgetting 'Hilo'. On J M Carpenter's 1929 recordings of old British sailors it is pronounced variously as "Eye-low", "High-low" and "Hee-low"


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 11:27 AM

@Richard Mellish 09 Jun 15 - 07:21 AM: Yes, a pronunciation closer to the original can be "even less correct". But even educated native speakers of French will stick to established English pronunciations when trying to speak English. "Paris", "Napoleon", "King Louis" etc. Only if there is no such pronunciation known, French pronunciation will be considered adequate.

(I remember listening to a radio feature about conflicts in Latin America. The reporter boasted a flawless Spanish pronunciation of the country names - ridiculous, if you ask me. When it came to "Honduras", he compromised to pronounce the initial H ...)

But imitating pronunciations from history is equally problematic, for the same reasons: it is likely to be imperfect, and it may convey the wrong message. A matter of taste.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 12:51 PM

There is, however, little consistency. Think of the names of wines & wine districts. Only a pretentious buffoon would ask the sommelier of a London restaurant for a bottle of 'Shom-pan-ye'. But he wouldn't, probably, be understood if he asked for a 'Bue-joe-lays'.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 12:53 PM

"I think the "Amerikay" pronunciation may have happened for the rhyme."

And I think you're right, Jeri.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 01:10 PM

O right, fight tight, sight is eye (I)

so Rye o is English not Ree ~ O which is Spanish American not

English pronunciation and sailors of the time from England may have

chosen to pronounced as they wanted to depending on the shanty rhyme,

or not

Ray yep from Yorkshire not Yorksheer


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 01:34 PM

I'm going to pronounce pedantry as 'pedantrye' from now on.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 02:19 PM

Or you can tree to do so...


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 02:25 PM

Maybe I'll switch to "Oheeo."


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 02:33 PM

All words in sea shanty's were pronounced how the shantyman wanted to pronounce them not by any convention or idiom or language.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 02:41 PM

The earliest mention of this in the chanty literature—that I'm able to find at the moment!—is by C. Fox Smith in her 1927 collection. (I have looked at writing mentioning this song back to the 1860s, but, unless I didn't put it in my notes because I thought it wasn't notable, I don't find attention called to this feature.)

I'm not sure when in the year 1927 Smith's book was published, but the March 1927 issue of Gramophone had a review of a recent batch of recordings of chanties commercially released. The review covers 5 different groups' recordings (chanties were REALLY a popular fad at that time, it seems), and all contain renditions of "Rio Grande." About two, the author of the review notes that they pronounced Rio incorrectly--they sing Ree-o instead of Rye-o. I can't say whether the author knows this from experience with oral tradition or if he/she got it from a book like Smith's.

Doing a quick check, these field-recorded singers pronounce "Rye-o":

Mark Page - Carpenter Collection - at sea 1849-1879 - recorded in late 1920s

Joseph Hyson of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia - Helen Creighton - recorded sometime between 1930s-1956

Leighton Robinson of Falmouth - Library of Congress, Sidney Robertson Cowell - went to sea 1888 - recorded in California, 1939

St. Vincentian whalermen of the 1960s sang "Royo Groun."


Myself attempting to sing in this style, "Royo Groun"


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Ebbie
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 12:55 AM

My father was born in North Dakota which may explain why he pronounced it Rye oh. In Oregon, later, his children permanently came to call it Ree oh. Rye oh hurts my ear. :)

However, a friend of mine, Maine born and bred, grew up singing Rye oh and still does so it's not necessarily an American midwest oddity.

What does bother me is someone paying no attention when he should know better.

Then-President Ronald Reagan greeted the Mexican president with this charming bit: "Me cazza est su cazzah' (mi casa est su casa). Pronouncing the z not as in pizza but as in zebra. What amazed me is that Reagan had spent most of his life next door to Mexico- surely he knew better.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 07:59 PM

Thanks for the feedback... serious, not so serious and even the smart arsey!!! ;-)

Reckon the salient point is if it sounds right then do it that way... After all, that's what the original singers would've done...

And I'd forgotten about "Chile" in Amphitrite...


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Musket
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 04:10 AM

Bad enough Spanish to English, without putting Yorksheer into the melting pot.

In one of his books concerning English language and American differences to Blighty, Bill Bryson pointed out that sailors tended to pick up foreign words when away and anglicise them, conversely using the Foreign accentuation of similar words when in port to impress people with their worldly knowledge, hence two or more pronunciations of the same word.

It fits I suppose, and could be the case with some words, especially those that appear in shanty.

In Tudor times, there was an aversion to anything Spanish for a time, so Spanish words such as Rio would not, if used by traders and diplomats, be pronounced in a way that shows you can speak Spanish, unless of course you were a privateer...


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 12:00 PM

Oh those sailors and their ways! Whatever will they come up with next? Hopefully more wacky and unique sailor stuff. Know one knows why, but it's just what they do.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 12:04 PM

Or no one ;-)

Meanwhile,

Put enough English speakers together in contact with a foreign language and you'll always get new pronunciations, if not new languages.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 02:59 PM

Ahoy and ARRRGH!

A Hessian soldier on his way to America in 1777 described British sailors as "a thieving, happy, whoring, drunken lot, and much inclined to swearing and cursing people. They can hardly say three words without their [favorite] curses, 'God damn my soul, God damn me!' [German translation follows.] Toward us they are rather rough, impolite, and rude."

Colorful...or just obnoxious?


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Snuffy
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 04:23 PM

And apparently it is an English habit with a very long history (if Wikipedia is to be believed):
Les goddams (sometimes les goddems or les goddons) is an obsolete ethnic slur historically used by the French to refer to the English, based on their frequent expletives. The name originated during the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) between England and France, when English soldiers were notorious among the French for their frequent use of profanity and in particular the interjection "God damn".

Outside France, the name has been used in French-speaking parts of Canada. Related terms have existed outside the French-speaking world: Godames was historically used in Brazil, while Gotama was used in East Africa.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 06:59 PM

Well - it's better than eating frogs, I suppose ...

Incidentally, how are we, as a Nation, celebrating Waterloo Day?


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: GUEST,Guest Betsy
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 07:24 PM

Why the Spanish references ? Rio de Janeiro (as in many songs) is Portuguese.
In Rio, the letter "R" is pronounced as a "H" = Hee-o which adds fuck all to the situation other than address the Thread title.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 09:00 PM

According to Oxford, the French word "goddam" didn't appear until the 18th century.

"Les godons" existed in the 14th, but it isn't clear whether it's the same word or where it came from.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Acme
Date: 12 Jun 15 - 12:06 AM

Well here in Tejas, Betsy, Rio Grande is Spanish.


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Jun 15 - 02:31 AM

I doubt that the song refers to Brazil, Betsy. The Rio Grande is much closer to the American west. (Not that the river is all that grand.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 12 Jun 15 - 03:16 AM

Ebbie,
Stay tuned for a lecture on where "sailors" went -- which could rarely be USA because "sailors" are British by default and why would they want to go to USA? Oh, and if they did, they would jump ship and join Mexico in a fight against the Stupid USA. But anyways, Sailors would go to the exotic Brazils and other fabulous international rios -- in which the Rs are pronounced like Hs! And Sailors would never sing songs that are just about, y'know, stuff that other people sing about who don't go to exotic Brazils sing about. In fact, Sailors have ("had") their own repertoire of songs that has nothing to do with other songs, cuz they're special. And because Stan Hugill the non-historian (but that doesn't matter, because he was a SAILOR so HE KNOWS through his DNA encoding) threw the idea in a book while his leg was broken and he was convalescing.


Or maybe people just sometimes read the spelling of foreign words/names and carelessly / uncaringly pronounce them according to the assumed spelling rules of their own language?


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Jun 15 - 07:24 AM

Elsewhere I've suggested that some sailors thought it was the river.

But plenty did not.

A hint is that the song almost always says, "Bound for Rio Grande," not "the Rio Grande." What's more Rio Grande de Sul was a far more notable port than either Brownsville or Matamoros, the only ones on "The Rio Grande" (which, of course, isn't a port at all). Sailors often sang about being bound for New York, Liverpool, or London, never about "Hudson," "Mersey," or "Thames."

IIRC, at least one text refers to "them Portuguee girls."


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Subject: RE: Origins: pronunciation of RIO
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Jun 15 - 11:33 AM

Next we can debate whether Kansas is right in pronouncing the ArKANSAS river the same as the state...until it actually gets to Arkansas, where it is *usually* pronounced Ar-kan-saw.

I have no problem with switching depending on where I am and the circumstances.

I play "The Ar-kan-saw Traveller", but I used to canoe on the Ar-Kansas river.


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