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OKI Wanna Know: Is this Oakley street pronounced 'My-not' or 'Meh-no'?

 Is this Oakley avenue pronounced Minot, Minot, or even Minot?
Bill Rinehart
Is this Oakley avenue pronounced Minot, Minot, or even Minot?

OKI Wanna Know is our feature where you can ask a question about something that's not exactly newsy, and where the answer isn't always easy to find. We get a lot of questions about street names, and this week, WVXU's Bill Rinehart tries to answer another one.

Sophia Paparodis has lived in Oakley since 1990. And she's still not sure what street she lives on.

"I've heard three different pronunciations," she says. "People on the street call it My-not, but every once in a while someone will call it Meh-no (like "minnow"). So, I've been calling it Meh-no. There's kind of a disagreement amongst my neighbors."

Paparodis says a few years ago, she was circulating a petition in the neighborhood, and one man wouldn't sign unless she pronounced the street the way he did.

"At the time this was happening, Ross Perot was running for president. I said 'Minot, like Perot. Or like merlot,' " she laughs. "I really bought into it. I really bought into it being French, but every once in a while I dig in and I'm like 'Well, there's an English pronunciation too.' Any of them could be right."

There is a French word spelled m-i-n-o-t. It refers to a unit of measurement before the metric system. It's pronounced "MI-no."

There's a city in North Dakota that has the same name. Or at least they're spelled the same. Stephanie Shoenrock (Shane-rock) executive director of Visit Minot (My-not), says their community isn't really all that French.

"There's a lot of Scandanavians that settled in Minot," she says. In fact, Minot is home to the Scandanavian Heritage Park, which draws visitors from around the country every year. She says Minot was founded in 1886, and named after a railroad investor: Hendy D. Minot.

"Minot, North Dakota, is pronounced My-not. And a way that a lot of people remember how it's pronounced is people say 'Why not, Minot?' So, if that is a trick for anybody to remember how to pronounce it, that works for a lot of people around here," she says.

Minot, North Dakota, is home to about 50,000 people, and can 50,000 people be wrong?

The secretary for the Oakley Community Council says Minot Avenue was named after Minot, North Dakota... about 26 years after Minot was founded.

Joe Groh says the street itself was originally called Webster Avenue. "But in 1913, Oakley was annexed into the city of Cincinnati. And when they did that they identified a bunch of streets that had similar names to other existing streets in the city, so they had to go out and rename a lot of those."

Groh says a city council member and judge was tasked with coming up with a new name for Webster.

"Apparently Minot was his father's middle name. So, why not? We'll use that one. There's no real historical significance other than the fact they were trying to come up with names. He figured 'Well, (it's) my dad's middle name, so we'll use that one.' "

That judge was John Weld Peck. But, fun fact: It's not his name on the federal courthouse in downtown Cincinnati. That building is named after his nephew.

But that's just another aside, and doesn't get us any closer to an answer.

"Because this came up I went out to one of our Oakley Facebook pages, and asked people," Groh says. "It was pretty much overwhelming to go with the My-not. Don't know why that's that way. It just seems to be the way it's always been."

Groh says he got about 60 responses, and all but a couple called it My-not.

Sophia Paparodis still prefers Meh-no. She won't be circulating any petitions about the pronunciation, but admits she is using a subtle approach to getting her way.

"When I say Meh-no, and someone says 'Oh, I thought it was My-not,' I say 'Well, I like Meh-no, and I'm not really sure which one it is, but I like that better,' " she says. "There's a lot of young people on my street. There's a lot of young people moving into Oakley, and so, they're not set in their ways," she laughs.

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Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.