ALL-bany, not AL-bany

Corning Tower view downtown ALL-bany

From the Department of Small Complaints: Duncan emails after watching the newest season of Orange is the New Black:

There's a scene (at the end of [Season 5: Ep. 12 "Tattoo You."]) in the "bus station" in New York City (complete with multi levels and escalators for some bizarre reason...) where two out of three announcers mispronounce Albany. (Al-bany instead of Allbany).
I always wonder how these screw ups get into shows. Is there no one on set who checks the pronunciations of cities in shows. I mean... like, Albany is a STATE CAPITAL... and of New York State no less. It's not some random city out there in our big country. This always yanks me right out of my suspended disbelief (as I'm sure it does for others).

We've gotta admit this is small thing that we find grating, too. And it's kind of odd, because the other major Albanys around the country also seem to (mostly) be pronounced the same as the city here. (Though even here there are some slight differences if you listen carefully -- ALL-bany versus AWL-bany.)

But apparently these other places struggle with the same pronunciation problem.

+ From the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "Are these 10 of Georgia's hardest-to-pronounce town names?"

+ From the Oregonian: "Are you mispronouncing these 30 Oregon words? (Probably)"

+ From an old poll at the Patch site for Albany, California: All-bany or Al-bany? You Tell Us (the poll is broken, alas)

The All-bany (as in New York) pronunciation does seem widespread.

Sharon Konopa, mayor and lifelong resident of Albany, Oregon:

Multiple people with different accents in Albany, California:

And then there's Albany, Georgia. We dug up a few videos of its mayor, Dorothy Hubbard, saying the city's name. Here's her first swearing in ceremony:

Pretty much like Albany, New York, right! And here's a Georgia tourism video with the same pronunciation. But there's also this from Georgia's state website:

Chartered on December 27, 1838, Albany, pronounced "All-ben-ny" or "Al-bain-ny", is the county seat of Dougherty County.

From the self-proclaimed Atlanta PR Guy: "Albany, Ga is pronounced 'Al-binny' not 'Awl-bun-nee'."

And from the 2003 book June Bugs Grocery and the Cornfield Jook: A South Albany Oral History: "Obviously spelled like New York State's Albany, it has a regional pronunciation feature known to residents and initiates: Albenny. People may deny it, but just listen around."

Given that some people from that part of the country have a very distinct accent -- see: Paula Deen -- it wouldn't be surprising for there also to be a different take on the pronunciation. So maybe the persistent occurrences of AL-bany trace back to Georgia.

Oh, and then there's Australia and New Zealand, where apparently the city name is also pronounced AL-bany, though with Australian and New Zealand accents:


+ The other Albanies

+ An Albany dialect?


You hear those mispronunciations in local TV commercials sometimes (apparently those produced out-of-town with no local oversight.)

A commercial from years ago mentioned "Guilder-land." It's seared in my memory forever.

I've heard the infamous AL-bany a few times...usually from those in the mid-west or Canada (my work has me dealing with Canadians from time to time). A few years back, while on the phone with a service rep from the mid-west I remember politely talking about how funny it is that people mix the pronunciation up. She joked that her accent just gets in the way, but that at least New York Albanians were cool about it, explaining that she had a few tense folks from Albany, Georgia over the years who weren't happy about the use of AL. So I guess we don't complain about it as much as we think we might :)

Glad you guys are all over this.

Slow news day? ;-)

I've always used this as a way to test the new broadcasters / anchormen / weather forecasters. It's BUR-lyn, not Ber-LIN. It's KAY-ro, not CAI-ro. The town is Ren-suh-LEER, in REN-sler County. Downtstate is COOK-socky, not COK-sack-ee. Newbies always mess them up the first time.

More annoying is the Albanian pronounciation of places like GALL-way or the lowly mollusk a SCAL up..... hey give me your number I'll give you a KALL on the phone! Ps my family is from The real Gaul-way in Ireland. Makes them shake when they hear it on the TV here! Also gotta love the elemen-TARY schools around here!

Best. Post. Ever.

Actually, I think the correct pronunciation is "AwL-bany" One can always hear the kiss of a "w" in there!

"It's BUR-lyn, not Ber-LIN."

Everyone I know who lives in Berlin says it "Ber-LIN"

"Downtstate is COOK-socky, not COK-sack-ee."

Lots of Albany natives say "Cok-SACK-ee", in fact, I would say that's the more common pronunciation.

"Newbies always mess them up the first time."

I was born here ~60 years ago, am I a newbie? Or are you?

> Everyone I know who lives in Berlin says it "Ber-LIN"

Correct. But Chuck is using the "American way", because if it's good enough for Americans, than it must be good enough for the rest of the world :)

@Stan lots of Albany natives are wrong, then.

I've worked in Coxsackie for 7 years with plenty of local coworkers and clients to demonstrate and practice proper pronunciation. It is most definitely like "COOK-socky" and not "Cok-SACK-ee" according to them. I would actually put forth a phonetic like "cooks-zah-kee" but they are similar.

There was an X-Files episode many years ago that butchered "Sacandaga"

Why can't we have a truly phonetic script to close this issue once and for all...

I'd like to add this one, one that has puzzled me for a very long time. Lets make Chatham sound like Chaytham, and make Latham sound like Lattem. Or make Chatham Chaytham phonetically to sound the same as Latham.

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