OK, the second part is easier than the first. Anybody can pronounce “park”. But unless you’re Polish and very familiar with your national heroes, or live around Kusciuszko Park in Milwaukee, you may not know how to pronounce it. There was a drowning there a short while ago, and Milwaukee broadcast journalists had to pronounce the name properly or risk being laughed at as an outsider. You can say “ka-SHOO-sko” and be accurate enough to convince most ‘sconnies that you’re as familiar with that name as you are with the name of another Polish hero, Pulaski. No less than ten municipalities are named after Casimir Pulaski, who, like Tadeusz Kusciuszko, was a Polish military leader and hero of our Revolutionary War. The one in Wisconsin is a village near Green Bay.
If you should run into someone who actually speaks Polish, you’ll likely hear the true Polish way of pronouncing Kusciuszko’s name – “kus-SHOO-sko”, with that little extra “s” sound at the end of the first syllable. But for all intents and purposes, “ka-SHOO-sko” – the Americanized way of pronouncing it – is acceptable.
Fortunately, in Wisconsin, you don’t have to guess how to pronounce Polish names, American Indian names, German names, or any sort of place-name. There’s a section of the WBA Newsroom site that links you directly with a website put together by veteran Wisconsin broadcast journalist Jackie Johnson. The WBA Newsroom section on correctly pronouncing Wisconsin place-names is here.
Posted by Tim Morrissey