Curious Colorado: How do you say “Vermijo”?

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — When you announce the news on television, you encounter some proper names that are simply hard to say.

In some cases, the pronunciation can be debatable. For instance, a recurring street name has plagued me over the last few months. I would cringe when it popped up in the prompter and tried to say it like I meant it.

The latest uncomfortable scene was last Tuesday when I was tasked with announcing a traffic alert. The particular avenue in question is the dreaded Vermijo. I went with the Spanish version. It sounded like, “Ver-Mee-Hoe.”

It was apparently the wrong version. My co-anchor, Lauren Ferrara, was kind enough to let me know “the correct way” during a commercial break.

“Just so you know, it’s Verm-ah-hoe,” she politely said.

I had never even considered that pronunciation. In fact, I thanked her and went to investigate immediately.

I asked everyone in the newsroom and was greeted with mixed reviews. I trusted our graphics designer, Viktoria, who has lived in Colorado her entire life.

“Ver-mee-hoe,” she answered.

She even went out of the way to ask friends on social media. They were split down the middle on Ver-mee-hoe vs. Verm-ah-hoe.

My research didn’t stop there. The internet spit out a bunch of local addresses on Vermijo Avenue. When I asked for a Spanish translation, no results.

There was one hit, a fictional town in Arizona. It was the setting for an independent film of the same name. The trailer featured an incredible cowboy actor reciting his script to perfection. He asked, “What brings you to Ver-mee-hoe?”

Yes, he said Ver-mee-hoe.

Since it’s a fictional town, I felt the need to ask the locals what they thought. I ventured downtown and used Apple’s Siri on the way. She said, “Turn on Ver-mee-hoe.” I felt I was armed with enough evidence, but pushed on anyway.

Parked near the courthouse at the intersection of Vermijo and Tejon, we sampled the foot traffic passing by.

“If I were to pronounce it I would say Ver-mee-hoe,”  Aaron from Pennsylvania said. “Other  people would say Verm-ah-hoe. I say Ver-mee-hoe.”

Jessica, who has lived here the last five years, said  “Verm-ah-hoe. Silent Js all around.”

She admitted Ver-mee-hoe also has a silent J, but opted for the former.

Mike has been serving hot dogs on the corner for more than a year.

“It’s Verm-ah-hoe,” he confidently stated.

A pair of high school gentlemen on lunch break said, “it could be pronounced Verm-ah-hoe or Ver-mee-hoe.”

I thanked them for the help, but they were no help to me.

Mr. Smith has lived here since 1965.

“It’s Verm-ah-hoe. At least, that’s what we were always told,” he said.

In all, eight out of the 10 people I approached agreed on “Verm-a-hoe.”

Our conclusion? Contrary to Siri and independent films, when in Rome, say Verm-a-hoe.

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