If you’ve lived in Colorado for even a short time, no doubt you’ve heard the town name Buena Vista pronounced in a variety of unusual ways, not the least of which is “Bewna Vista.” After years of uncertainty about the proper pronunciation, Noel Black went to Buena Vista to seek the truth (right click on the link to download or click the play button to stream):

Bewna vs. Buena

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26 Responses to You Say Bewna, I Say Buena…

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Colorado Firecamp, KRCC. KRCC said: You Say Bewna, I Say Buena…: If you’ve lived in Colorado for even a short time, no doubt you’ve heard the town nam… http://bit.ly/4x7lW4 [...]

  2. Jake says:

    Buena? – they’re outsiders…

  3. Elise says:

    I’ve always wondered this as well….Great report Noel!

  4. Liz Arnold says:

    Great report Noel – very entertaining, but I think I will still call it Buena Vista as I don’t live there and therefore am an outsider for sure! Thanks for the fun clip! :)

  5. dax says:

    hahahahahahahaha, can’t stop laughing.

  6. Carolyn says:

    It’s not so much what each individual calls it. It IS a Spanish name, and in every other respect Buena is Buena, not Bewna. But whether the locals call it by the wrong pronunciation, what the heck difference does it make? It’s their town, they can call it anything they want. Locals in San Francisco call their beau-ti-ful city either The City or call it by the full name. Anyone who calls it “Frisco” is automatically ID’d as an “outsider” or tourist. So there you go. Enjoy your beautiful cities!

  7. awd says:

    watch out ira glass

  8. I have been corrected several times for how I say ‘Edinburgh’ by USians who insist it should be pronounced ‘Edinburg’. It doesn’t seem to matter when I tell them I was born there and that no one would ever pronounce it Edinburg in Scotland.

    Similarly, Elgin is pronounced as in ‘gin’ as in gun, in the UK, not as in the alcoholic drink like it is here.

    I loved the explanation by the Mayor that the name evolved because the founder said the place is beautiful, although maybe they should have called it Beauna Vista instead.

  9. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ***fading into silence***

  10. Nancy Atherton says:

    The Americanization of non-English place names is commonplace in the US. If you ever pronounced Des Moines as the French do, no one in Iowa would know what you were talking about, and I defy anyone to give New Orleans its proper French pronunciation without sounding like a pompous fool. Cairo in Illinois has always been CAY-ro; and I’ve heard many Georgia natives refer to their hometown of Athens as AY-thens. It’s not wrong—it’s local color, and I love it!

  11. Dave Mills says:

    Noel,
    Thanks for another great “Big Something.” My relatives always called their town “Pee-EBB-low” instead of Pueblo. Should you visit the steel city to get a definitive answer?

  12. rence says:

    Buena Vista (Bwe-nau Vee-stau), Salida (Saw-lee-dau), La Junta (Lau Hoon-tau), Limon (Lee-moan), Colorado (Co-low-raw-doe).

  13. david says:

    My Iowa granny emigrated to SoCal during WW2, and like many midwestern transplants of the day, lived out her years calling the home of Disneyland “Byoona Park”. There’s a county in Iowa, which everyone there knows is called “Byoona Vista”. I’ve always wondered if this is the result of German-speakers reading ue and not seeing the Spanish dipthong “way”, but the the German umlaut U sound, alternatively written as ue. If this is what was going on with Ms.Dearheimer when naming Byoonie, we can be grateful she didn’t get totally German-like with it, and we would be dealing with BUUnahfihztah.

  14. It is my heart’s home…it is Bewna Vista…always has been…always will be…you can’t change the name of your heart’s home…

  15. perhaps since the genesis of its name is the word “beautiful” it is the spelling that is all wrong, and not the pronunciation…I suggest that they change the spelling to “beauna vista” by divine decree!!

  16. chrisN says:

    Good topic! I want to call it Buena, but I like your point about Salida, and I screw up Los Angeles (many do), Pueblo, etc. But, I come close on Sangre de Cristo, La Garita, etc. It’s a mix of my basic Spanish classes and influence from my piers.

  17. Lauren Giusti says:

    I’m not believing the mayor’s story!

  18. Paul G. Rauschke says:

    Great piece Noel. Growing up in Decatur, Il at 1027 Buena Vista, its always been “Bewna Vista”. Thankfully, Mrs.Dearheimer didn’t call it Schonblick. Many of us with non-English surnames have experienced a lifetime of hearing them bastardized. Get over it.

  19. Paulp says:

    Good story.
    How about the town of Mosca? I named my dog after the town, thinking it was pronounce like Moscow. When I went to my brother’s wedding in Texas, his Mexican-American in-laws corrected me saying that it was pronounced like mosquito because it meant “little fly”. It’s kind of the same with grande. You hear it with the e emphasized or not. Let’s not get started with French words….

  20. burro says:

    I’ve lived in Colo. since ’72, moved to BV in ’94. I’m aware the natives call it Bewna, but I can’t bring myself to say that. I think the real issue is the dichotomy between the BV natives and the newcomers (meaning anyone who wasn’t born here). The two groups often clash politically, culturally, and economically, wherein lies the root of the controversy.

  21. kay johnson says:

    I agree that a trip to Pueblo is in order, ie Pwubloh, as heard on the local newsfolks.

  22. Euphorbia says:

    Do, please do a followup, as #11 requests, on Pew-ebb-lo vs. Pweb-lo!

  23. C.J. says:

    I am a Colorado native who has resided in Bewna Vista since 1990. Though I am not a “townie”, one born and raised here, I respect the history of an area, yes, even if that includes the mispronunciation of it’s given name. Can it be embarrassing? Certainly! Although, it has led to some very creative address labels, with orders placed by phone….Beeoona Vista for example. If there is a dichotomy between those that live here, it stems from the faction who move in and snobbishly want to change the town from what it is, to what they desire it to be…even down to changing the pronunciation of it’s name. It’s been Bewna Vista since 1879, gee, that’s good enough for me!

  24. hiker gal says:

    When we moved to CS in 1999, the odd and various pronunciations of both Buena Vista and Pueblo thoroughly confounded my beau and me.
    After many confusing months, we agreed that the arbiters of local wisdom must be none other than the folks at KRCC. So, Noel, whatever you say, goes!

  25. tobi says:

    I used to live in upstate new York– way upstate-near the canadian boarder– there were two small towns– Madrid & Boliver.. The first was pronounced(in keeping with the flow of this article) Ma(a-as in apple)drid the other- which actually had a small statue of Simon’ Boliver in the town square was pronounced “Bolliver”– yep- it happens everywhere– hahaha

  26. Phonatic says:

    Beauty View, eh?

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