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This pronunciation guide is specifically intended for Austin newbies who may be having trouble figuring out the correct pronunciations of 10 of the most confusing Austin street names, such as Burnet and Manor. Still, some Austin veterans may find this guide useful as well, if only for setting the record straight and helping get all the new folks across town as fast as possible without clogging up the highways any more than we have to.
10. Nueces Street
If you do any exploring in Central Austin or are looking for real estate downtown, you’ll likely drive down Nueces Street, which runs north-south from the late Austin Music Hall to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd near The University of Texas. To that end, “Nueces” is appropriately pronounced “New-AY-sez.”
9. Burnet Road
There’s no escaping Burnet Road while sightseeing in North Austin, so you’d better learn the correct pronunciation! Now, you may be tempted to drawl out “Burnet” into something like “Bur-NETTE” — or even “BRU-nette” for the especially sloppy — but don’t you dare. Here in ATX, we have a saying: “It’s BURN-it, durn it. Learn it!”
8. Guadalupe Street
Guadalupe Street is known as “The Drag,” especially in UT circles. Discussions about how to pronounce “Guadalupe” can become fairly heated, since the traditional Spanish pronunciation would sound something like, “Wad-ah-LOOP-ay.” That’s perfectly acceptable, of course, but most of us just call it “Gwad-uh-LOOP.”
7. Pedernales Street
Let’s start with how not to say “Pedernales.” Do not say “PEE-dur-nahl-ez,” “PEH-dur-nahl-ez,” “PEE-dur-nalles,” or “PEH-dur-nalles,” and don’t even think about trying to drop that “S” or emphasize “les” as in “PEH-dur-nal-LEZ.” None of those pronunciations will make you look like a local; in fact, use ’em and you’ll probably become the butt of long-time Austinites’ good-natured joking. “Pedernales” is said “PUR-der-nal-ehz” or “PUR-den-nal-ehz.” Don’t ask us where we got the extra “R.”
6. Dessau Road
Dessau Road lies east of I-35, so you’re likely to encounter it during your East Austin adventures. We’ve heard a lot of different pronunciations for Dessau — “deh-SOW,” “des-ay-ew,” and “DESS-ow,” to name a few — but locals favor “deh-SAW.”
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5. Manor Road
Manor Road is another easterly street that you should definitely explore in your East Austin escapades. This road was named after the Tennessee native James Manor, who followed Sam Houston to Austin and settled in the region east of the city. No, “Manor” is not pronounced the way you’d refer to a gigantic mansion-esque house that’s a little on the creepy side. Instead, think mayonnaise and say it thus: “MAY-ner.”
4. Del Valle
Though not technically an Austin road (at least not a long one), Del Valle is the name of the area that houses Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and multiple South Austin adventure destinations, so it’s a good idea to learn how to pronounce it. Hint: we use that “E” literally and say: “Dell Valley.”
3. Mueller Boulevard
Not only is there a Mueller Blvd, but there’s also a Mueller Lake, Mueller Lake Park, and a Mueller Southwest Greenway, James Manor, and a host of other business who employ the title. So you see, it’s important to get this one right. Don’t go getting fancy trying to pronounce “Mueller” with mews, mwells, and muahs. We like to keep things simple in Austin, so naturally we go with “Miller.”
2. Koenig Lane
Koenig Lane runs west-east between I-35 and Burnet Rd; at Burnet — say it with us: “BURN-it” — Koenig morphs into Allandale Rd, which changes quickly into Northland Dr and RM 2222. Pronouncing “Koenig” routinely stumps even weathered Austinites with its deceiving “oe.” It may seem weird, but trust us, it’s not “KOE-nig.” It’s “KAY-nig.”
1. Manchaca Road
You’re going to want to take a deep breath before attempting this one because it’s bound to confound you. There’s no rationalizing the correct pronunciation of “Manchaca.” It just is what it is: “MAN-shack.” A small, dilapidated structure filled with men. Go ahead and laugh; even long-time Austinites still giggle about it.
And here’s even more of a rub — after a ruling in September 2019, Manchaca Road will now be Menchaca Road. According to the Austin American Statesman, “Manchaca Road will now be Menchaca Road to reflect the proper spelling of a veteran of the Texas Revolution for whom the road is possibly named.” This name change doesn’t simply swap the ‘e’ for an ‘a’ in the pronunciation, this one change the whole word to “Men-CHAH-kah.” If you’re still new to Austin, be grateful it won’t be too much of a struggle to relearn the name. Much like
Town Lake Lady Bird Lake, this one’s going to be a struggle.
With these 10 major roadway pronunciations in hand, you’re bound to blend in with the natives — at least when it comes to giving and receiving directions. If you’re seriously thinking about moving to Austin, but haven’t quite decided to take the plunge, you should also take these 10 lessons to heart and check out our 3-Minute Guide to Austin. Both of these resources will make your decision a heck of a lot easier!
Featured photo: Flickr user Chris Carter, Creative Commons licensed