I can’t, of course, begin to pronounce most of the mountains I’ll be walking over, around, or under in May. I’m hoping to learn them as I pass by. But there are two words I’d like to get straight now. I’m told “Kingussie” is pronounced “Kinoosie.” Is this true? And how to I properly express “Ruigh aiteachain”? Thank goodness for Jock’s Road.

Of course, there are also plenty of White Mountain features that create confusion when people speak them. (You’re all coming to walk in New England soon, aren’t you?) The two I think of right off the bat are Mt. Mooselauke, the first big 4,000-footer northbound AT walkers encounter, and the scenic Kancamagus Highway, which cuts through the mountains from Lincoln to Conway.

Much of Mooselauke belongs to Dartmouth College in Hanover, whose outing club (the DOC) is responsible for trail-maintenance on the AT, and a number of side trails, for about 75 miles from mid-Vermont to Kinsman Notch in New Hampshire. Most Dartmouth types, and most others, too, pronounce it “Moos’-a-lock.”A minority goes for “Moos-a-lock’-ee.” Either is okay. Under either name, it’s a big, wonderful mountain with a large trail system. You will be told a story that the name derives from the words “Moose Hillock.” Smile politely, nod, and pass it on with a wink.

More often than not, the highway is just called “the Kanc,” but most of those saying its name fully mispronounce it as “Kang-ga-mang’-gus.” The correct sound is something like “Kank-a-mah’-gus” or “Kank-a-maw’-gus.” The name, like so many in New England, is said to come from “an Indian chief.” Some of them probably do.

“Jox Rode,” right?


Pronunciations — 2 Comments

  1. Never heard Kingussie pronounced that way. I and everyone I know says “Kingyoosy”.

    Ruigh aiteachain = “roo-ee aatch-ih-chen”, which “ch” as in “loch”.

    I suspect there’s an accent missing from aiteachain, should be perhaps àitcheachain. It means (I think), the shieling of the cultivated place.

    That last “i” gives the game away as a genitive, meaning “of”!

    You can work out pronunciation using my wee guide if it helps:

    Spelling and pronouncing Gaelic mountain names

  2. Thanks, Alistair. I already use your excellent guide, but wasn’t sure if I was putting the sounds together properly. (I wasn’t, quite.) Now I’ll just mumble “roo-ee aatch-ih-chen” to myself over and over while I walk!

    And I’m interested to learn it’s goosy, not gussy.

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