It's a question that Americans have been arguing about for decades: How exactly do you pronounce Nevada?
The great Ne-VAH-duh versus Ne-VAD-uh debate is not a new one, though it's regularly reignited during election season. In the past, George W. Bush and Michelle Obama have both been accused of mangling the pronunciation; in 2016, Donald Trump incorrectly told Nevada residents they were pronouncing the name of their own state wrong. The subject is so sensitive to Nevadans that former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval sent a text to former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination John Kasich, instructing him how to pronounce it.
So what is the right way to say Nevada? University of Nevada in Las Vegas associate history professor Michael Green told The New York Times that Ne-VAD-uh (with the second syllable rhyming with mad) is the standard pronunciation with locals, while saying Ne-VAH-duh (second syllable rhymes with spa) will expose you as a foreigner to the state.
The reason for the confusion may be that Nevada is a Spanish word. Meaning “snow-capped,” Ne-VAH-duh would be the correct pronunciation if you were to say the name in its original tongue. But following a flood of Northern and Midwestern settlers to the state in the 1860s, the hard a prevailed.
Not everyone in Nevada agrees there's one true pronunciation. In 2010, a Las Vegas assemblyman introduced a bill that would have officially made Nev-AH-da an acceptable alternative. The resolution never made it off the ground, and using the Spanish pronunciation will still get you funny looks in the state today—especially if you're a politician.