People Really Do Pronounce Dartmouth as ‘Darkmouth’
Today, I found out something deeply disturbing about the town of Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
There are apparently some people who call it “Darkmouth.”
Now, this isn’t a nickname, like when people refer to Onset as “Tesno” (“Onset” spelled backward) or Fall River as “The Riv.” People actually just pronounce it with a “k” in place of the “t," and because we say "Daht-muth" here, they're saying it as "Dahk-muth."
It came about when frequent WBSM caller Sam called in to discuss places and streets across the SouthCoast with names that are commonly mispronounced, such as Coggeshall Street and Tarkiln Hill Road. He brought up how his father always called it “Darkmouth” and said that he believed his father had picked it up from his grandparents, who were Portuguese immigrants.
What’s more, Sam informed me that a previous caller had referred to it as “Darkmouth” as well, and it apparently went right past my usually-trained ear.
Surely, this must be a very uncommon phenomenon, because I can’t recall anyone ever calling it “Darkmouth” in all my decades of living on the SouthCoast.
I took to Facebook to ask if this was something others were aware of as well.
“DAHK-muth,” Jennie wrote. “I generally hear this increasingly rare pronunciation from older people (70+ years) of Portuguese background. Seems to be people who live in or originated in New Bedford. I don't think Dartmouth people themselves have ever added the K sound.”
Yet there are some who live and work in Dartmouth who said it’s actually quite common among the residents themselves.
“Yes I've heard this and yes from folks who lived there and taught in the school system in the late 90s/early 2000s,” wrote Sarah, a North Dartmouth native. “Seemed like it was a specific generation, if I wagered a guess to their age, they'd have been born in the 40s or 50s.”
“My grandmother,” Julien wrote. “She always said ‘Dahkmouth.’ I remember one time I tried to break it down and go letter by letter. Nope, still ‘Dahkmouth.’”
“It’s true, I hear it all the time,” wrote Jason, a Dartmouth resident.
“Our high school principal said it that way,” wrote Kristen, another Dartmouth resident.
On paper, “Darkmouth” looks like it could be the name of a super villain, a secret base of some sort, or perhaps even a cursed place nobody will venture into – certainly none of which describes the lovely town of Dartmouth.
“Darkmouth sounds like something you'd name a dragon, not some small town in Massachusetts,” wrote Julie.
She’s not wrong.
"My husband just mentioned that people started saying 'Darkmouth' when the town shut down the lights on the streets a few years back to save money," Vera wrote.
Jenn, however, took it in a different direction.
"I've heard 'Darth-mit,'" she wrote.