I have lived in the Austin, Texas area for almost exactly 20 years now, having moved here in August of 1988 to begin attending Southwestern University in nearby Georgetown. As such, I have seen a lot of visitors and new residents in the area who mispronounce town and road names, and refer to them strangely, at least in my humble opinion.
In an effort to assist those who are visiting or moving here to fit in a bit better, I have compiled a short list of the most common mistakes that I have witnessed. In several of the cases that I will cite here, I KNOW that the word should be pronounced differently, but trust me on this. People will look at you funny if you ignore this post and pronounce things properly.
Much like the spelling bee, I will attempt to use each of the landmarks in a sentence in an effort to help.
BURNET ROAD – Seems easy enough, right? I thought so, too, until I learned that it is pronounced BURN-it, not Bur-NETT. My son has his martial arts classes in Austin on BURN-it Road.
BUDA, Texas – This is not pronounced “Buddha”. Instead, the phonetic pronunciation is BYOO-duh. The Y is not a separate syllable. Instead, it’s like a hard Y sound, sort of like the “y” in “yarn”. I am headed to BYOO-duh for a barbeque tonight.
HUTTO, Texas – This one has always seemed really easy to me, so I am constantly surprised when I hear someone say “HOO-toe” when it is clearly “HUT-toe”, as it appears. My family and I live very close to HUT-toe.
MANCHACA Road – This is one of the worst offenders around. It would seem to be the Spanish pronunciation – Mahn-CHA-cah, right? Wrong. It is pronounced “MAN-shack”, like a seedy bar. MAN-shack is a road in south Austin. It is also the name of a town just south of Austin.
ELGIN, Texas – This town located due east of Austin about 30 minutes is pronounced “ELL-gihn”, not “ELL-Jen” like the watch company. ELL-gihn is home to regionally famous “ELL-gihn hot guts” (sausage).
KOENIG Lane – Try getting used to saying, “KAY-neg”, NOT “KOH-nig”. KAY-neg Lane has several names, as it is the same road as 290 (to the east), Northland, and 2222 (to the west). Easy, huh?
MANOR, Texas – This is a common problem for newcomers, as manor is an actual word used elsewhere in the English language. In central Texas, however, this is pronounced “MAY-nur”. MAY-nur is located between Austin and ELL-gihn. MAY-nur is also a road near central Austin.
PFLUGERVILLE, Texas – This is where we have lived for 13 years, and it is named after the Pfluger family. As you might imagine, the P is silent and the rest is pretty much phonetic – FLOO-gur-ville. I enjoy living in FLOO-gur-ville.
LLANO, Texas – Try “LANN-oh”. LANN-oh is on the outskirts of the Austin metro area.
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – This German-settled town between Austin and San Antonio is home to Schlitterbahn, which is a giant water park and regional summer destination. The primary mistake I see here is people putting an additional “s” after “braun”. It is New Braunfels, not New Braunsfels.
The next few examples are not actually mispronounced very often. Instead, they are mistakenly referred to by their proper names, rather than what everyone who lives here actually calls them. In many cases, there are roads that have several names – I will tell you the best name to use here.
MOPAC – This regional highway runs from far southwest Austin to far north Austin. It is also known as Loop 1 (although it is not an actual loop). Please don’t call it Loop 1 unless you want people to stare at you. Also, don’t call it “The One”, which seems to be common among out-of-staters. It is Mopac, plain and simple. As a bit of trivia, Mopac was originally MO-PAC, which stood for the Missouri-Pacific railroad, since it runs parallel to the train tracks for several miles in town.
183 – As with Mopac, don’t call this “the 183”, as you are simply wasting a syllable. Just say “183”, as in “that restaurant near 183 and Braker Road”, or “the traffic on 183 is terrible right now”. 183 is also called Research Boulevard, although people only use this when giving out mailing addresses, not directions. No one says, “turn on Research”.
U.T. – This is the University of Texas at Austin, but why use 11 syllables when two will suffice just fine?
I-35 – This large interstate highway runs right through the heart of town. Just say “35”. A good example of a sentence here would be “35 is a nightmare during rush hour traffic. I had to shoot a man on the way home.”
360 – This is alternately known as Capital of Texas Highway (although I may never understand why there are so many lights on a highway). I never hear a single local resident call this road Capital of Texas Highway. Much like Research Boulevard above, this is only used for mailing addresses, not in everyday parlance. Also, don’t say “Loop 360”, even though it is technically correct. As with Mopac, Loop 360 is not a loop at all, but sort a C-shape on the west side of Austin.
So, that covers most of the more common errors that you could make. If you have any questions, please do not hesistate to call me. I would be happy to help!
If you are considering a move to the Austin area, I would love the opportunity to assist you with this. You might also be interested in my online relocation package here: