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MIT student blogger Snively '11

¿Cómo se dice…? by Snively '11

La única cosa que he aprendido en la clase de español.(Blame Google Translator if that sentence makes no sense)

Boston and MIT.
Weird names.
Hard to pronounce names.
Names made harder to pronounce because they have special weird pronunciations courtesy of the Boston population.

A while ago I gave everybody some Boston advice courtesy of Sara Ferry ’11. It’s time for some more Boston advice courtesy of Sara, and then some MIT advice courtesy of me.

Sara Advice
When you come to Boston you will see names to a lot of new cities, cities like Andover, Arlington, Worcester, and Quincy. While most of these probably look relatively straightforward as far as pronunciation goes, if you aren’t careful you’ll get marked a tourist instantly if you mispronounce one. There’s one biggy, the litmus test of tourism in Boston, and that’s Worcester. I’m going to teach you how to pronounce it now, you ready?

Pretend you just called your friend a wuss. Now add “ter” to the end. Wuss-ter. If you ever call it Wor-che-ster then you’ll be laughed out of Boston.

Snively Advice
Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Don’t sound like a total n00b when you get to MIT. I’ll help you out. First, pronouncing buildings and stores:

Stata: We’re going to start with a weird one. Very few people actually know how to pronounce “Stata.” I’ve had just as many people swear up and down to it rhyming with “beta” as people promising it rhymes with “eratta.” You’ll hear both pronunciations thrown around but I’m pretty sure that only Ray and Maria Stata themselves actually know how to pronounce it. The nice compromise I’ve come up with is to just say it rhymes with “data.” How do you pronounce “data?” That’s how you should pronounce “Stata.”

Kresge: Pronounced Krez-gee (hard “g”, as in “goat”)

Brain and Cognitive Sciences Building: Either call it “46” or “Brain and Cog”

Health Services: “MIT Medical”

Stratton Student Center: “Student Center” (no “Stratton”)

Zesiger Center: Pronounced “Z-Center” because unlike Stata, nobody knows how to pronounce “Zesiger.”

La Verde’s: Luh-Vir-deez (rhymes with “duh-birdies” and is usually said as if it is one long word)

The Coop: pronounced like chicken “coop,” not like “coh-opp.”

Now for places around Boston:
Copley Square: pronounced “Cop-lee,” like in Rush Hour.

The Prudential Center: pronounced “the prood” or “the proo” depending on how lazy you are about the last letter

Finally, a biggy:
MIT: pronounced “Em-eye-tee.” If you ever call it “mitt” then you will be stared at strangely, no joke.

If all of this seems overwhelming then there’s an easy way out: Memorize building numbers. Not only may you be more comfortable with numbers than names but you’ll also seem more 1337 if you can rattle everything off in numeric form.

Sorry about no blog entries lately, I’m trying to adjust to a new sleep schedule. I’m up at 4:45 AM each morning and get back to my room at 7 PM after work. Time not at work is usually spent sleeping. I write in the train if possible but lately I’ve been sleeping instead.

Also, potential class of 2013, time to start thinking about your MIT application! I know it hasn’t actually been released yet, but barring any drastic changes from last year, you can go ahead and get your “What activities did you do in high school? How many hours per week? How many weeks per year? Awards or honors in them?” ready. Also, there will more than likely still be the “Write about anything you didn’t get a chance to express elsewhere” optional essay which is basically your chance to show your true colors, muse over that and/or start outlining/writing it.

Ok, sorry, one last thing, you’re going to have a lot of teacher recommendations and transcripts floating around. Trying to just remember everything is almost impossible. I used an awesome color-coded spreadsheet to keep track of everything, which I recommend you doing as well. I’ll make one up and post it for y’all in case you aren’t motivated enough to make your own. More posts to come soon!

51 responses to “¿Cómo se dice…?”

  1. Snively says:

    What!? Comments being marked as “junk” and removed!? Must be because they only say “first.” I’ll bet not doing this would cause comments to stick around.

  2. Ty'12 says:

    And also SECOND time being FIRST ever!!
    Being twice FIRST in one day, and also forever is cool ;j

    Also, do you mean that “Strata” is pronounced both ways? What do most people say? Is it half and half (MIT population-wise)?

    LASTLY, BEST OF LUCK TO ALL MIT’13-ers!!! WOOOTTT!!! I am excited already!! I remember… that fateful 5 months and 26 days ago… smile
    Best of Luck to all of you guys!!

  3. Ty'12 says:

    @ Snively: PPS, I also said “PHYSICS”

  4. Nicole '10 says:

    Lol, and how are you pronouncing ‘data’? – because I’ve heard it pronounced to rhyme with ‘beta’ and ‘errata’.

  5. Snively says:

    @Ty ’12
    It’s “Stata” and it’s pronounced both ways around campus, split about 50/50.

  6. Rafael says:

    Bueno, gracias por este pequeño vernáculo de términos y ayuda de pronunciación. Aunque me inculcaron ingles desde pequeño, la forma en que la gente del noreste de los Estados Unidos me confunde. Bueno, estaría preocupándome dentro de un año, cuando haga la aplicación de ingreso.

    Hasta luego y gracias, ¡disfruten sus vacaciones! smile

  7. Nicole '10 says:

    (I tend to rhyme Stata, beta, and data… but that’s just me)

  8. Piper says:


    And Nicole, I think that was the point =D.

  9. Snively says:

    @Nicole ’10
    That’s the beauty of “data,” nobody knows how to pronounce that either. It rhymes perfectly with Stata, no matter how you pronounce it.

  10. Aditi says:

    I think I just forgot how I used to pronounce “stata” o.O

    Awesome post anyhow

    And “Pixa Hoot” sounds so cute!

  11. Meagan says:

    Yay! ’13 application is almost ready! Does it make a difference if you apply early or regular? I would rather apply regular, but are your chances of admittance increased if you apply early?

  12. Anonymous says:

    and by “Brain and Cog” you mean “BrainCog”

  13. Snively says:

    There is no proven benefit (admittance-wise at least) to applying early except that if you get deferred then they’ll read your application again so you get second chance. Also, if you get accepted, you get to dodge all of those other college applications that are due Jan 1st. Well, that and you’ll know if you’re in or not in mid-December instead of mid-March!

  14. Sam says:

    It’s actually staht-UH, with the accent on the second syllable.

  15. Sam says:

    also, I had an ’05 ask me if I went to “the mitt” recently after seeing my brass rat. I was kind of convinced that she was only pretending to be an alumna, but she had a pretty extensive knowledge of the courses and dorms, so I was eventually convinced. But seriously, Snivs is right, nobody ever calls it that.

  16. Marc '12 says:

    The article description is good, except you’re missing an article. Should be “la clase de español.”

    Just some Spanish grammar for Snively.

  17. Snively says:

    @Marc ’12
    Thanks, fixed!

  18. Anonymous says:


    also, early admits get an awesome tube and valentine’s and holiday cards. they are thus countlessly better than regular admits.

  19. Zaira '11 says:

    Sadly, there are no building numbers for the rest of Boston and Cambridge, you’ll have to memorize their corresponding T stations (?!), and… NAMES (???!!!).

    I was ‘fantasizing’ earlier about meeting Ray Stata during Tech Reunions last week and asking him how in the world he pronounces his last name. I would have been cool, you know, get it from ‘the source.’ It’s like asking Einstein about special relativity or Newton about calculus… You get the idea.

    I had a friend from MITES who used to say LaVerde’s in Spanish (lah BEHR.dehs) < sorry if my phonetic example sucks, I promise it was funny.

  20. Ruth '13? says:

    I have been reading the blogs for a yearish and after seeing all this stuff directed at other people it is shocking to read “start working YOUR application.” You made my day.

    I say data both ways, sometimes in the same sentence.

  21. Data actually has three pronounciations, with the third being the “t” emphasized on the first syllable (“dat-uh,” as opposed to “dah-tuh”). However, apparently, the pronounciation “date-uh” (as opposed to “dey-tuh”) is nonexistent, so we’re spared a fourth possible way of pronouncing “Stata”? Well, hell if I’ve ever heard anyone pronounce it “stat-uh” (as opposed to “stah-tuh”) anyway.


  22. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the wake-up call! I absolutely agree with Ruth:I’m reading the post and then I see “’13” and I’m like,’WOAH!”
    Putting up a color coded checklist will be really helpful, if you are intending to include one,thanks!

  23. Oasis '11 says:

    My roommate’s from Worcester and he laughed at me the first time I tried saying it. =p

    Also try Gloucester.

    In Spain, they really refer to MIT as “mitt.” (probably because they seem to pronounce all pronouncable acronyms – I was very amused every time some one used it, and I started introducing myself as “un estudiante del mitt” =p)

  24. milena '11 says:

    I call MIT Medical just “medical”. And MIT Mental Health is just “mental”.

    And I, too, used to pronounce LaVerde’s in Spanish, but to my credit, Spanish is my first language.

    And people in Spain are weird. I met some people who called Pizza Hut “Pixa Hoot”. Weird.

  25. Laura says:

    Dude, way to steal a blog entry title that I may potentially want to use. =P

  26. anonymous says:


    It think the Pizza Hut thing is just the Spanish accent.
    Or did they spell it that way?

  27. Paul says:

    The real question is, do you use “data” as a plural or singular noun? (Since I’m a Latinist snob, I like to use it as a plural. :D)

    Also, don’t forget that the Student Center is also very commonly called W20 (its building number). And Massachusetts Avenue – the street that runs through MIT and Boston – is almost always called “Mass Ave.” {Mass as in you just went to church, Ave to rhyme with “have” – not as in Not the Latin Ave Maria. wink}

  28. Piper says:

    I too just say “Medical” – and I just say Verde’s (ver-dees). My hall does too. (My Mexican half totally fails to come through with that.)

    Speaking of Mass, now I have “Ave Maria” stuck in my head. Thanks a lot, Paul =P.

  29. Lauren '12 says:

    on colour coded spreadsheets, Microsoft excel is your friend.

  30. jenn says:

    i thought worcester was “wooster”?

    you forgot suffolk too.

  31. Evan says:

    Stata, as in the last name of Ray and Maria, is pronounced “stay-tah” – a friend of mine called them to ask (although he only got voice mail).

    The building totally goes either way, although I think “stah-tah” tends to be more prevalent.

  32. Evan says:

    Oh, also, pronouncing MIT like the German word for “with” is way more common than Snively suggests. In particular, when you’re referring to e-mail addresses or web addresses, you pronounce all three parts of as words, not abbreviations.

  33. Worse than calling Worcester “Wor-ches-ter” is pronouncing it “Wor-cezt-er” (Cezt rhyming with zest). One year I went to an American Idol (eugh. I was a middle schooler) concert in Worcester and EVERY SINGLE contestant pronounced it wrong. You’d think someone would tell them before going on stage.

    My dad pronounces MIT as “mit” for the sole purpose of bothering me.

  34. Sara '11 says:

    Is that a verbatim quote, or are you paraphrasing me? Not that I mind either way, just curious – I only vaguely remember the Worcester conversation. (Same goes for the other “advice” article – did I say you *need* to listen to Dropkick? I mean, you won’t get laughed out of Boston for not knowing those songs, but they are a lot of fun to listen to anyways smile )

  35. José P. says:

    I try to pronounce words as “properly” as possible, but I’ll pronounce words however I want if the person makes too much of a fuss about it (I say “Wor-ces-ter”; bother me enough, and I’ll start pronouncing it “Gah-lah-pah-gohs”). I’ll probably say “That-big-protrusion-that-Gehry-built” instead of “Stata,” anyway. raspberry

  36. anneshen '11 says:


    i’m at work … in an office bldg with open cubicles … and seeing “pixa hoot” on the screen actually made me laugh out loud … hahahaha whoops

  37. Nick says:

    The city names sound just like the British pronunciation, which I suppose makes sense being Boston. What would you say for ‘Marylebone’?

    ‘Marr-le-boon’ as in:
    where ‘le’ is French

  38. Snively says:

    In 2.001 we had an entire recitation devoted to the difference between Data and Datum.

    Totally right, I forgot about that. People will say “web dot mitt dot edyoo” etc when describing websites and e-mail addresses quite frequently. As far as just the school, though, still fairly uncommon I think.

  39. wow, hopefully this will be helpful =DDDDD

  40. Snively says:

    @Sara ’11
    My memory = bad, so almost anything I “quote” you on will be paraphrased. An exception was the Dropkick Murphys thing because I remember specifically you telling me that I needed to listen to them.

    Were there any other pearls of wisdom you gave that I should share?

  41. Macdonald says:

    out of interest how do you pronounce “-burgh” in the US?
    as in we say Edinburgh as Edin-bru
    so what would you call Pittsburgh

  42. Snively says:

    We pronounce it like the “burg” in “hamburger” or “iceberg.”

  43. we don’t see many pictures of you anymore, can you post some pics of yourself? like your face and stuff.

  44. Harrison says:

    Also according to Sara: “water fountain” is pronounced “bubbler”. Any other way is wrong. In addition if you’re from Minnesota and you call a parking garage a parking ramp, you are wrong. And if you’re from Wisconsin and call an ATM a time machine, you will get laughed off of campus.

  45. Piper says:

    Soda is pop. Don’t order a milkshake – get a frappe. Which is not a frap. Oh, Boston, how I love your language =D.

    Time machine?

  46. Harrison says:

    In Wisconsin a major bank is Tyme, so when people need an ATM they’re usually looking for a Tyme machine. It sounds stupid everywhere but in the great state of Wisconsin.

  47. Piper says:

    LOL, that’s awesome.

  48. Ann says:

    It’s like when people in New York sigh at n00bs for pronouncing How-ston as Hew-ston. I’m from Houston (Hew-ston!!!). Texas! Isn’t this a democracy? Totally unfair! XD

    And for Señor Snively–

    Just thinking about the application process makes my head asplode. My main problem is that I’m strongly considering applying for the Questbridge College Match scholarship, which (though MIT is a partner school) conflicts with Early Action.

    Lol, maybe I should email an admissions officer?

    A-hoho. Gonna be a good year.

  49. Water fountains ARE called bubblers. A water fountain is one of those large decorative things you see at theme parks or shopping malls with large jets of water poking out of it.

  50. Connie '12 says:

    Props to Bostonians for leaving out an “r” and an entire syllable out of Worcester.

    How is “Alewife” pronounced? In my head, I pronounce it al(like Albert)-lay-whiff-ay (because it rhymes), but I didn’t dare say it out-loud at a T-station during CPW.

  51. Snively says:

    @Connie ’12
    Alewife is easy. It’s just Ale-wife, like a drunk spouse.