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The way you pronounce Calgary says a lot about where you’re from

In Saskatchewan, most people say the name of Alberta’s most populous city in two chunks: Cal followed by gary (rhyming with hairy).

“Saskatchewan’s fastest growing city was Calgary, Mr. Speaker,” Premier Scott Moe said in the provincial legislature, pronouncing it this way, as if it’s a compound word.


LISTEN| Calgary the Saskatchewan way: 

0:01Calgary: The Saskatchewan way

Premier Scott Moe says Calgary in the most Saskatchewan way.

“I noticed that people in Saskatchewan, not all but some, pronounce Calgary, Cal-gary,” said Dorothy Hicks, who moved to Saskatchewan from Calgary when she was 15. 

“I’m just wondering why Saskatchewan people do that?” 

She said people from the city, like her, say it more like Cal-gree.

LISTEN| Calgary the Alberta way: 

0:01Calgary: The Alberta way

CBC Calgary producer Josh Page pronounces Calgary his way

“Even [Saskatchewan] people who have lived in Calgary still call it Cal-gary. I don’t understand.”

Hicks put her question to the CBC podcast Good Question, Saskatchewan

LISTEN| Why do Saskatchewan people say Calgary wrong? 

13:20Why do Saskatchewan people say Calgary wrong?

We love a good road trip to Calgary. There’s an Ikea and the mountains aren’t far away. But when we get there, are we saying the city name correctly?

Jesse Stewart, an associate professor of linguistics at the University of Saskatchewan, said we need to look at the origins of the name to unpack the varying pronunciations.

Calgary is a Scots Gaelic word brought to Canada by James McLeod, who suggested naming the Canadian city after Calgary Castle, located on the Isle of Mull on Scotland’s West Coast.

“So when you bring over a specific word into the English language, oftentimes it wants to adapt to the sound system of English so that English speakers can pronounce it without attempting to have to make a bunch of foreign sounds that they’re uncomfortable with,” said Stewart.

WATCH| Here’s why people in Saskatchewan pronounce Calgary differently: 

Here’s why people in Saskatchewan pronounce Calgary differently

3 hours ago

Duration 2:39

Over time, the name takes on a new sound, Stewart said, and the more you say a name, the shorter it becomes.

“If you live in Calgary and you’re using the word all the time, chances are pretty good you’re going to reduce that syllable and you end up with cal-gree,” said Stewart.

According to Stewart, either pronunciation is correct.

“Language is fun to fight about, but in the end, there’s really no right answer.”

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