Boy-see Or Boy-zee? The Boise Pronunciation Question

Nov 7, 2014


Credit Public Domain / Wikicommons

It all started with this tweet:

But Morning Edition host Sueann Ramella has always said it Boy-zee. And her assistant, growing up in northern Idaho, also heard Boy-zee. Was this a burgeoning controversy?

We asked Boise State Public Radio's Emilie Ritter Saunders, and she said...

She even gave us this handy guide to commonly mispronounced Idaho town names.

But we went online, and some guides insisted it was a hard z...

But singer Jewel wrote a song to prove it was with an s.

Now we wanted to know... was this a northern vs. southern Idaho divide? We found this promo video made by Boise TV station KTVB that said Boy-see:

But here's north Idaho's KXLY pronouncing it Boy-zee:

And some more evidence that north Idaho says it Boy-zee:

Of course, we could sympathize with Boise's plight. The Northwest has Moscow (not pronounced like "cow") and Spokane (not pronounced like "cane").  So do southern Idahoans get that right? Well... take a listen at 0:37.

Yes. At least for Spokane.

So it looks like this might be a case of north Idaho bias. For all of you Boise natives who have been cringing at how Sueann says your town's name... we're sorry. We hope it's some comfort that people keep calling her "Suzeanne."