Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Guide to Pronunciation [limerick]

The Okies have never been vague
about how one ought to say Prague
     as distinguished from Prague
     (rhymes with Indian raag
like the one sung by Tansen called Megh)


The small city of Prague, Oklahoma [population less than 3,000; land less than 2 square miles] -- said to be located at roughly the geographical center of the United States -- was the site (in 1952) of an automobile accident, with Meher Baba among the injured passengers (he and his party having been amid a lengthy drive en route from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, abortively heading for California). This bit of history is commemorated at the Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center.

Locals (as noted in the above ditty) are said to favor a pronunciation of Prague that pointedly differs from the standard English pronunciation of the name of the Czech Republic's considerably more famous capital city (using a hard "a" in preference to a soft "a") -- a city which was once home to the writer Franz Kafka (among others).  Possibly absurdly, my ditty relies on a reader's familiarity with certain Hindi words to clarify and illuminate this point of divergent pronunciations.  If I am not mistaken, it has been opined that denizens of Prague, Oklahoma (many of whom were Czech immigrants) intentionally invented this peculiar pronunciation variant so as to ward off any confusion of reference between their new city and the old-world capital.

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