September 18, 2015

You Say Absaroka, I Say Absorkee

Longmire is one of my favorite shows on TV. I love the writing. The characters are richly drawn and deep. I love the friendship between Walt and Henry, but I also love the relationship between Walt and Branch. The books by Craig Johnson are wonderful, and nobody in the known world (with the possible exception of Mr. Johnson himself) was happier than I when Netflix picked up the series to stream for season 4. 

However, I have had one tiny quibble--and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. It's about one word. One single word. 

When I was a kid growing up in Montana, my dad always pronounced Absaroka as Ab-SOHR-kee. Three syllables, not four. When I started watching Longmire, it bothered me a bit that everyone on the show says AB-sah-RO-ka when they're talking about the county in which the series is set. It didn't bother me enough to stop watching or anything silly like that, but it was always there niggling at me. 

At first, I thought the writers, actors and directors just didn't know what they were doing. And then, I started wondering if my dad just got it wrong. (Gasp!) Could it possibly be? I mean, look at that face. Does it look like the face of a man who might say a word wrong? 

Well, yeah. 

Frankly, it wouldn't have been the first word he pronounced wrong. He spent his entire life putting the "T" in often. When I said it the way he did at school, I got a mighty scolding and some shaming from a teacher. And then there was the word chiropractor, which Dad always, somehow, pronounced CHOIRpractor, as if the doctor also led the singers at church, which was kind of funny since Dad loved listening to Mom, my sister and me pay the piano, but couldn't carry a tune himself. 

Through three seasons of Longmire (I haven't started the 4th yet.) I've wondered if Dad just had it wrong. But the other day, while procrastinating, I came across a Montana pronunciation guide put out by the Billings Gazette (the trusted newspaper of my youth) in which the mystery is finally solved. 

In Montana  (I can't speak for Wyomingites) the correct pronunciation of Absarokee/Absaroka is, indeed, Ab-SOHR-kee or Ab-SOHR-ka, not AB-sah-RO-kuh.  

There! My dad was right. Phew. 

I have to admit, it makes my heart happy to find out that, at least for the place we lived at the time, my dad nailed it. And now that I know that, Walt and Henry and Branch and the rest can pronounce it any old way they want. It won't bother me a bit. 


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