People + Even Artificial Intelligence Mispronounce This Minnesota Town
It's not that big of a deal, but I do find myself correcting people when they call my hometown by name. But then, people have the audacity to argue with me about how the name of the town I spent 15 years of my life in is pronounced. So sometimes they'll go to the internet, or ask their smartphone how to pronounce the town.
In some cases, even the AI gets it wrong. (Believe it or not, AI gets a lot wrong.)
I grew up in Biwabik, Minnesota. It's a small town of 961 people. Those numbers are from the last census in 2020. When I was a little kid riding my bicycle up and down Mainstreet, the population was just over 1,000 people. Hey, look that's my old house!
The charming small town was built as a mining town, like all the other small towns stretching across the Iron Range. Biwabik shifted to becoming a tourist destination in the 80s and 90s. The city adopted a Bavarian Theme for its main street buildings and signage, supporting the local ski resort Giant's Ridge. In the 90s work began on world-class golf courses at Giant's Ridge as well.
That's brought a lot of tourists to the area, and they'll head home with fond memories and maybe a mispronunciation of how to actually say the name of the town. I've seen it a thousand times.
Not the correct way to say it, even though this is what YouTube gives you:
I love a couple of comments from fellow natives of Biwabik.
It's pronounced Bye-Wah-bik, not Bih-Wah-Bik.
The phonetic spelling that Wikipedia gives is (/ˈbaɪwəbɪk/ BY-wə-bik). So Wikipedia at least has it right.
Siri Just Says It Fast And Glosses Over The Beginning
I asked Siri "How Do You Pronounce Biwabik?" She says it really fast, much like I do when I'm not really sure how to say something. But, she does say it wrong as well with the Bih sound at the beginning.
Is this going to solve any problems? Most likely not. But, in case you find yourself in town grabbing Vi's pizza, skiing or golfing at Giant's Ridge, or staring at the giant plastic moose in the park, you'll know how the locals say it.