I Always Spell It Wrong, Too

When I first moved down here, I certainly wanted to spell it Murfeesboro. And then, when I heard how old men from there said it, like a cold engine turning over–Murrr-friss-BUH-RUH–I added the “r” but am still Hell-bent on spelling it Murphreesboro.

At this point, Tennessee, I feel like yous should just change the spelling to save me from embarrassment.

Anyway, good poem here.

13 thoughts on “I Always Spell It Wrong, Too

  1. Maybe if the Murfree family wasn’t still very much alive and kicking in that town…just do what I always did when I was growing up in Rutherford County and abbreviate it: M’boro. Or call it The Boro. Either works.

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  3. My problem with that name is that ever since the voiceover narrator on Pushing Daisies referred in passing to the Battle of Mer-FREEZ-buh-ruh I always hear it that way in my head. I find myself wanting to correct people who say it the right way.

  4. Did you notice that “Tennessee” is misspelled in the title of the poem? It’s like rain on my wedding day…

  5. I was wondering, too, if they’d spelled it wrong on purpose since Tennessee is spelled wrong as well.

    When I first moved to Murfreesboro 14 years ago (which I generally abbreviate as M’Boro, too), I had a really difficult time pronouncing that first “r.” But I got a job as a pharmacy tech, which meant I talked to old men and women all day, and I fell in love with the way that they pronounced the city’s name. Like you said: “Mur-frisss-burrah.”

    To this day when I speak to someone who has a thick southern accent, or to an older person who lives there, I will pronounce it like my old pharmacy customers would. It makes me feel like I’m in on a secret. Like I’m from there.

  6. Everybody else in the world tries to spell it that way, B. Don’t feel left out. Even the folks at Abe Books and Alibris spell it like the Sword of the Lord typo. (SWORD! Pronounced SW-ORD! Yay phonetic learning still affecting my eye-to-mouth reading translation abilities!)

    Besides, any non-native who pinpoints the pronounciation of Murfreesboro so perfectly AND so artistically will always get a bye in my book.

    Now we shall educate you on the variants of Shelbyville, which is pronounced differently according to your distance from the actual city limits. Natives who still live there say “Shovel.” Residents of Bedford County environs say “Shebvul.” Adjoining-county residents familiar with the city say “Shebbyvul.” And those poor souls unfamiliar with it pronounce it as it’s spelled: “Shelby-ville.” (Bring me an etymologist, stat!)


  7. And of course Miss Smarty SmartyPants misspells “pronunciation” throughout her comment.

    [Please insert visual of Molly Shannon doing a Mary Catherine Gallagher “SUPASTAAAAAH!” split here, complete with underpants showing.]


  8. Grandefille, I had no idea about Shelbyville! That is awesome. Now I want to do like Megan and use it with someone down there like I’m in the know!

    I was saying “Murfreesboro” over and over again to myself in different accents this morning in the shower and I had an idea. I think old natives Murfreesboro-ans almost sound like they’re saying it with a brogue, but without rolling their “r”s. I wonder if the pronunciation is just a wonderful relic of the Scots-Irish heritage of the region.

    I don’t know how you’d say “Shelbyville” with an Irish/Scottish accent, but I love “Shovel.”

    I also like how some old school Nashvillians say it “Nashful.” Like it rhymes with bashful.

  9. Many of us natives who are lazy don’t pronounce that second R, which is what leads to a lot of confusion. We may *say* “Murfehsburrah,” but there are some who get real fluffy if you don’t write down that second R. Like my first-grade teacher, a brilliant woman. Who pronounced the letter R as “are-uh.” Law.

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