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Lawmaker seeks official pronunciation of 'Concord,' New Hampshire's capital city

A sign welcomes visitors to downtown Concord, N.H., and the Statehouse on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024. Lawmakers are considering a bill to amend state law to include an official pronunciation of the capital city. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — I came. I saw. I Concord.

A New Hampshire lawmaker wants to amend state law to include an official pronunciation of the capital city, one of many communities called Concord across the country. While North Carolinians pronounce the second syllable so it rhymes with “bored,” New Hampshire, Massachusetts and California are among those who favor something closer to — in the words of Julius Caesar — “conquered.”

Rep. Eric Gallager, a Democrat from Concord, also wants to include an official pronunciation of “New Hampshire” in state law to make it clear that “shire” rhymes with “fur” not “fire.” He proposes including the official pronunciations written out according to the international phonetic alphabet in a section of law that lists state symbols such as the official state sport (skiing), song (10 different tunes including “Old New Hampshire”), and spider ( daring jumping spider ).

“These are the symbols by which you are recognized, and branding is actually something that organizations take really seriously and spend a lot of money on,” Gallager told a House committee Tuesday.

Rep. Dianne Schuett, a Democrat from Pembroke, asked Gallager if he discussed his bill with “old Yankee folks” who pronounce the capital as “Con-kid, New Hamp-shah.”

“I’ll tell you, I’m fearful that some of them may be offended if we mandated a specific pronunciation that doesn’t jibe with their heritage,” she said.

Gallager said his bill would not be a mandate, just as the other state symbols are not universally embraced.

“Even though the state fruit is the pumpkin, you can still grow other fruits besides pumpkins, which I’m sure our apple growers appreciate,” he said.

And while he acknowledged the legislation may appear trivial, Gallager said he tries to “go for things that other people aren’t also legislating about.”

“With a lot of the other more important issues, the trenches are already dug and people have already made up their minds,” he said. “But with something more minor like this one, I think we can have a chance to bring people together and actually pass some legislation.”