Jackson County City Argues Over Correct Pronunciation Of City Name - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/17/05

Jackson County City Argues Over Correct Pronunciation Of City Name

Harriet Portas still works in the pottery business her family, the city's founding family, passed down through generations.

"Aunt Josey.. I took this business over from her in 1980," Portas says.

Pottery wasn't the only thing passed down, the original pronunciation of the family name was too.

"We as a family have always said GauCHAY,"Portas says.

Long time family friend Gwendolyn Washington never picked up on it though.

"That's the way I've always pronounced it. That's the way the local people say it. It's GauSHAY,"Washington says.

Local people? Mayor Pete Pope says it's an age thing.

"I pronounce it GauCHAY. I'm one of the older people," Pope says.

Steve Leggett demands it's GauSHAY and has it down to a science.

"If you say GauCHAY, that's actually annunciating the t-i-e like Spanish, Italian, and Russian. Naturally, it should be GauSHAY because it's a French word. It kind of sounds ignorant when you say GauCHAY.

So which one is correct?

Since the name is French, we asked a French teacher Virginia Jolly for some help.

"In good French you should say GauSHAY," Jolly says.

And the students, they live here. What do they say?

Only one raised his hand for GauCHAY.

That lonely hand is why city leaders are getting in this name game.

"We're trying to preserve some of the history. Part of the history is the pronunciation and the old family after which the city is named called it GauCHAY,"Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Jack Womack says.

"This would just be simple for newcomers coming into our city. The older people know what to call it," Pope adds.

GauSHAY.. GauCHAY.

"Who knows?" Washington sighs.

"They're not going to give anybody a ticket or a fine for not pronouncing it right, are they?" Portas asks.

"I wouldn't mind, but no," Womack says.

By Jaimee Goad

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