In the Feb. 17 AskME article, “How did Dirigo become the state’s motto?” (Page B1), the author claims that the word “Dirigo” is pronounced “DEER-i-go,” not “deer-EYE-go.”

Says who? A 2,000-year-old linguist?

We Mainers pronounce foreign words the way we want to: “Calais” is “Callus”; “Vienna” is “VYE-enna”; and “Woolwich” is, well, still under discussion.

In Portland, we have kale-eating Prius drivers who know a thing or two about Latin. There are also several people from Latin America. We always say “dir-EYE-go.” (Dere I go again!) We use the name on a city street, and on stores, companies and an extinct local beverage.

Some people like to deliberately mispronounce a word, even though they know better. “Nuclear” becomes “nukular.” For “Dirigo,” we will sometimes hear “Dry-A-Go.” This is an indigenous word that refers to Sebago Lake before it had any water in it.

As Maine goes, Dere I go, also.

Stephen D. Bither


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