Pronouncing Talladega

My commute to work was a little bit spirited the other day. First of all, I noticed a newly awakened hornet clinging to the inside of my windshield. Thank goodness it was a cool morning, because he/she never really got enough juices flowing to be active. Secondly, during my hornet-harrowing commute, I got a chance to yell at the radio.

The program to which I was listening was doing a sports feature on the late great Carroll Shelby, the legendary pioneer of the Shelby Cobra, and the customized Shelby Mustang GT 350 and GT 500 (complete with a police interceptor engine). Anyway, during a break in this topic, the two reporters started discussing NASCAR, and one of them said something about Talladega, except he pronounced it TAL-uh-DAY-ga. The other reporter actually had a Southern accent, and he quickly corrected him that it was accurately pronounced as TAL-uh-DIGG-uh. The first reporter incredulously corrected him back and said it really was pronounced TAL-uh-DAY-ga. He said the town’s name may be pronounced TAL-uh-DIGG-uh, but the racetrack is pronounced TAL-uh-DAY-ga.

A lot of my Southern angst can be summed up in that arrogant little mindless exchange. Talladega is, and always has been, located in Alabama. There’s not another one. It was named by Alabamians based on a Creek Indian word that meant “border town,” and has always been pronounced as TAL-uh-DIGG-uh by Alabamians. The town, everything in it, and everything around it is named “Talladega” and is correctly pronounced TAL-uh-DIGG-uh. Talladega County. Talladega National Forest. Talladega Pizza. Talladega Home Center. First National Bank of Talladega. But I’m supposed to believe that it takes an enlightened Yankee to come to my home state and correct me on the pronunciation of my own home state’s racetrack? Seriously?

No, no, and heck no. It’s not Spanish. It’s Creek. And it’s pronounced TAL-uh-DIGG-uh. As in ”The TAL-uh-DIGG-uh Superspeedway.”

Now, forever, and always.

About Tom Daniel

Tom Daniel holds a Ph.D in Music Education from Auburn University. He is a husband, father of four cats and a dog, and a college band director who lives back in the woods of Alabama with a cotton field right outside his bedroom window. His grandfather once told him he was "Scotch-Irish," and Tom has been trying to live up to those lofty Southern standards ever since. More from Tom Daniel

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