As a person who spent much of his life in the Columbia Basin and still
considers Washington his home, I would point out that the proper
pronunciation is "Worshington."
Seriously, I, too, have wondered about the intrusive /r/ in such words. In
dialect work, I have observed it most often in the phonetic frame [a___sh].
Thus, speakers who say "Warshington" or "Worshington" tend also to say
"warsh/worsh" and "squarsh/squorsh" for 'squash'. We do not tend to find
"feersh" for 'fish' or "wursh" for 'whoosh' or "fairshial" for 'facial'. I
suspect that the /r/ results from a degree of pharyngeal constriction that
comes from the need to transition between the low-back articulation of /a/
to the alveopalatal articulation of /sh/. But maybe the articulatory and
instrumental phoneticians can tell us more.
University of Cincinnati
> From: Ask A Linguist
> Reply To: Jeff Stauter;Ask A Linguist
> Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 11:32 AM
> To: ASK-LING@LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG
> Subject: Warshington
> From: Jeff Stauter
> Why do I say "Warshington" DC instead of "Washington" DC?