MARYVILLE (WATE) - Here's a question that always seems to get East Tennesseans talking and seems to mystify folks who "aren't from around here."
How do you say the name of the Blount County seat? It's spelled Maryville, but is it pronounced Mary-ville, Mare-a-vul, Murval, or something in between?
If you watched ESPN2's coverage of the rivalry football game between Maryville High School and Alcoa High School, you heard a lot of Mary-ville.
Residents weren't happy to hear their city's name pronounced that way. "Maybe he should have done his research and figured out how it should have been said," Rachel Wilson said.
During the entire game, the ESPN announcer kept saying it with the emphasis on Mary.
Locals say sure it's got Mary in it, but you sure don't say it that way.
"That's just the way we say it in Mare-a-vul. Not Mary-ville as most folks say it who've come here from other places," said David Pesterfield, a life-long resident.
Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor agrees. "It's pronounced Maryville. You leave out the Y," he said.
But Maryville residents say there's another very similar, acceptable version. "There is Murval. That came out of Maryville College," Pesterfield said.
That variation has gotten a lot of support lately, with shops selling shirts and hats with "Murval" printed on them in an effort to help visitors learn to say the name.
To many residents, there's no greater sin than throwing a Mary in there. "You're likely to say Mary-ville and everybody laughs. It's a source of great entertainment," Mayor Taylor said.
6 News talked to Maryville College English professor Dr. Sam Overstreet about how these versions came to be.
"There's a long standing rule in most languages of the world that over time, that in most unstressed syllables, most vowel sounds will tend toward the sound 'uh.' In Maryville, the stress is on the first syllable, then the other two vowel sounds, mare-uh-vul, tend toward uh. So that's why we say Mare-a-vul," Overstreet explained.
No matter how you decide to say it, the city was named after Mary Grainger Blount. Blount County got its name from her husband, Gov. William Blount.
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