How to pronounce “Goethe”

Our local traffic reporters have endured many beatings here on the Sac Rag, but I’d like to pile on a bit — not for their lack of timely information, but for the varied pronunciations of our region’s roadways. Please give your input on your preferred pronunciation of these streets and locales:

Seamas Avenue: Most reporters say “See-mus,” but the actual pronuciation is “Shay-mus.” Then again, if we all used the proper ethnic pronunciations, people living 300 or so miles to our south would be inhabitants of “Lohs Ahn-heh-lays.”

Goethe Park: For years I thought this was named after the 18th-19th century German poet/dramatist, but then I read a book on local history, and it’s really named after a Gold Rush-era land speculator.

Nevertheless, the debate remains on pronouncing it the proper German way of “Guer-tuh” or using the localized version of “Gatey.” I just know for sure that it’s not “Goath.”

Don Julio (a major street out in the Antelope area): Are you a “Don Hoolio” or “Don Julie-O” kind of person?

I think we should make a point in 2006 to agree on pronunciation standards for the region and pass the input along to the local media.

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The secret to running 50K/50 mile/100K races = Run until it gets too hard, then walk until it gets too easy. Repeat. I can give you some good taping techniques to prevent blisters, too. Likes: brains, wit, athletic prowess, thirst for knowledge, adventurous palate, kindness to animals, generosity of spirit, the Western States trail, Brooks running shoes, Streets of London Pub Quiz, David Sedaris, Arrested Development, Sherman Alexie, Malcolm Gladwell, Eddie Izzard, Gilmore Girls, House, Top Chef, Top Model, '80s mod/techno/industrial, California Golden Bears, Alfred Hitchcock, Will Shortz's puzzles, Armstrong & Getty, running ultra-marathons on the trails Dislikes: Under Armour clothing worn as an everyday fashion choice, real fake-y looking French manicures, snobs, mayonnaise, the words "moist" and "delicious" (or any made-up variation of "delicious," especially "delish" -- thank Rachael Ray for ruining it for everyone), country music, running on pavement

27 Responses to How to pronounce “Goethe”

  1. SinghCity says:

    I think we should start by agreeing to spell things as they are to be pronounced. Makes sense, if not “proper” English.

    And, also let me extend my welcome to you Runnergirl, as a contributor to the Rag. Glad to have you on board!

  2. Seamus. Is “shay-mus” really what the residents on or near Seamus Ave. say?

  3. Squitry Tip says:

    Yeah- the other day I went to the Safeway on Alhambra (Al-HAME-bra or Al-haam-bra?), and eneded up buying some tomatoes. The checker asked if I was buying vine-rippened Toe-Mah-Toes, so I hit her in the head with a bag of greenhouse Toe-May-Toes. Silly furiner.

  4. amurrican says:

    next you’re going to tell me i have to refer to Army Lieutenants as “LEF-tenant” instead of just “baby-killer”?

  5. Cüehl DMZ says:

    this reminded me of a bit i wanted to work into my flood story… who knew there was a “Cripple Creek” out in the Heights?

    A drunkard’s dream, if I ever did see one…

  6. runnergirl says:

    The “Shay-mus” version of Seamas is the Irish/Gaelic pronunciation of that name. Much like guys named Sean & it’s pronounced Shawn. (Or, sometimes spelled Shaun, like Shaun Cassidy, who was nowhere near as cute as Parker Stevenson on the Hardy Boys show.)

  7. I know “Shay-mus” is the Irish version, but if there’s consensus that the Avenue is “see-mas,” isn’t that what we should be calling it? Language being all malleable and all.

  8. cooldmz says:

    this reminds me of a guy i know from college whose name is Sheppard…so spelled because his ancestors in the wild west, a bunch of illiterate cattle rustlers, were evading the law and had to think up a new last name.

  9. sac-eats says:

    Would that be Paul Sheppard of Cottage Way?

  10. cooldmz says:

    no, but now Paul’s grandpappy is probably going to finally have his day in court.

  11. You’re way off the mark on Seamas. It’s named for a Portuguese family whose original name was Americanized from Simas, if I’m not mistaken. Lots of Portuguese agriculturalists out that way. If I’m not mistaken, this also accounts for the streets Lucio and Nevis, off S. Land Park Drive near Seamas.

    As for Don Julio, I’ve yet to see anything definitive on the pronunciation, but I’d love to.

  12. google luvr says:

    from 01/04/06 to 03/30/06…Perhaps “Seamas” (in this case “Don Julio”) will be the next “Joncich, Whitney Out”

  13. runnergirl says:

    Thanks for the info, Carlos — apologies for my ignorance. Yes, there is quite a large Portuguese population in these parts, and many pronounce Garcia Bend Park in the Pocket as “Garsha” Bend because of the Portuguese roots.

  14. Kelly Lonergan says:

    Goethe Street is supposed to be pronounced as the following:

    — [Goe] is pronounced Gare (like the name Gary)
    — [the] is pronounced tah (like top with no “P”)
    get it right people!! No more go-ehth or go-ettie or whatever! I live in chicago! i know!! jeeeze!

  15. jhj says:

    us peeps in Antelope do pronounce Don Julio “Don Hoolio”, but for some reason Walerga Rd induces dyslexia as many pronounce it “Wa-lay-gruh”

  16. RunnerGirl says:

    Hey Kelly Lonergan — Did you ever hear of the concept that names are pronounced differently depending on where you are?

    If you pronounced the Manhattan street called “Houston” like the Texas city while you’re in New York, people will know you’re not from around those parts.

    Your input would be a lot more welcome if you weren’t so darned condescending and short-sighted.

  17. Michele Brown says:

    He pronounced his name identically to the authors. He did not pronounce it gay tay.

  18. Andy says:

    I grew up in and have lived 90% of my adult life in the north county (Antelope, Citrus Heights, Foothill Farms), and there seems to be very little consensus on Don Julio. Heck, I even catch myself switching it up from time to time.
    Walerga pronunciation on the other hand is my pet project. Ever since I actually read the road sign and realized I had it wrong (around age 12), I’ve been trying to show people the error of their ways.

  19. jlt says:

    According to his great-grandson, Peter Goethe Miller, everyone in their family has always pronounced it “gaytey.”

  20. PiddlyD says:

    Everyone in Land Park around Seamas pronounces it sea-mas, and always has. At least, everyone I’ve always known, and I lived in that area for 30 years.

    Goethe is likewise, always “Gatey” to the locals I’ve always known.

    But if you’re calling it Jah-seen-to or Don Jule-io or Valley-Jo or Cone-jo… you’re a transplant from out of State.

  21. PiddlyD says:

    Nevis is named after the Nevis family, I believe. Lance and Neil, I think. Don’t believe me? Go to 5346 Karbet Way, jump the fence, and on the porch you’ll find a baby’s footprint… I think it is Neil’s.

    You may want to ask the current resident before you do this, though.

    John Cabrillo Elementary school and the Cabrillo Club both reflect the strong Portugese heritage of the general area, though, so you’re at least partially correct – and for all I know, the Nevis family is Portugese.

    They were a construction family and built a lot of the houses in that area. As far as I know, the family house is still over back in the area behind “Jim’s Market” on the Levee.

  22. CoolDMZ says:

    Societal enlightenment has made this, our second most popular thread of all time, irrelevant: Rancho Cordova replaces Goethe signs

  23. Turty Squip says:

    Societal enlightenment/Rewriting history… It’s all the same now’days. Just wait until someone wants to get all churchy-statey on us and rename “Sacramento” to something a little less Sacrament’y.

  24. PiddlyD says:

    Well… it is shit like this that makes me less uncertain that my decision to move from Sacramento may have been a bad one.

    Interestingly, here in Ohio, they recently had a Rosa Parks campaign. I’ll let the picture do the speaking…

    You’ll notice where Mrs. Parks sits, I am certain.

    Not a peep of public outcry here, but I am certain there would be a firestorm of controversy if Regional Transit ever tried a similar ploy. “Why Rosa gotta be at the back-a-da-bus?”

  25. Hecubus says:

    Piddly, great input on the SLP area. I am an alumnus of John Cabrillo (Like Brillo pad, not Bree-yo) Back then, Jim’s Market used to be Popular Market. I believe all those streets off of SLP are named at the whim of the construction guys, which makes sense of Nevis and Lucio, and the interestingly spelled Kennady. I know of no family named Ridgecrest, however. “Garsha” is the way we pronounced it as kids (the same way you pronounce The Garcia River on the North Coast near Point Arena) The whole Pocket was Portuguese farmers, until the goldmine that was subdivision reared its head. One need only do minor research at the California History museum to know that Goethe, at least the area family with the Aryan bent, pronounced it “Gay-tee”

  26. Hecubus says:

    By the way…It’s SEE mus.

    Shay-mus was a dog in a Pink Floyd song.

  27. Homebound says:

    Please don’t leave out “Mather” with a hard a and strong “th”, or the Army Depot with a soft e (this goes way back). One other note, whenever mentioning a freeway or highway, as a sure Californian giveaway, remember to say “the” before an interstate number, i.e., “The 50′ or “The 99”. Haven’t seen this phenomenon in any other state.

    A little sad to see the comments and realize how many newcomers to the area are not aware how far back these simple mispronunciations go. It makes Sacramento still a “small town” and an incredible place to live. Hope it doesn’t fade away.