This article originally appeared in the Garland/Mesquite section of the Dallas Morning News on Friday, June 9 1995



By Michael R. Hayslip


Pronounced Split


Even folks who live in Rowlett can’t agree on how to say it

  A continuing mystery of evolution is the pronunciation of the name “Rowlett,” as applied to the city and the creek that meanders through it.

Telephone calls to an unscientific sample of three dozen businesses and agencies whose name begin with the word “Rowlett” found the following pronunciations:  ROW-let, 30 percent; Row-LET, 30 percent; and ROW-LET, 15 percent.  Other answers, some from machines, avoid confusion in favor of something noncontroversial, such as “water department.”

Folks in Rowlett are agreeably disagreeable about the pronunciation.

Take Lorene and Vernon Schrade, who hail from pioneer Rowlett families and marked their 49th anniversary Sunday.

She celebrated in Row-LET, but he stayed in ROW-let for the occasion.

Why the split over all these years? ROW-let’s “quicker and easier,” Mr. Schrade said.

Meanwhile at City Hall, the receptionist uses Row-LET, as does Mayor Mark Enoch, possibly suggesting official intent to cleanse the accent from the first syllable to sound more cosmopolitan.  The mayor also insists that his favorite color is plaid, which makes him adaptable.

The voice on the Chamber of Commerce telephone recording says ROW-LET, but executive director Mary Alice Ethridge claims to be a ROW-let type “by conversion,” whatever that means.

Casual listening indicates that area residents with at least 30 years’ tenure gravitate by habit to ROW-let, unless appealing to a newcomer with a high income, a luxury automobile or a big mortgage.  Pronounced while chewing something, the name becomes RAULT. Over a dip of snuff it sounds like MRAUL.

Most newcomers favor Row-LET, especially for the city name, but then some who live in Row-LET still fish in ROW-let Creek. (Anyone who fishes in Row-let CRICK is immediately marked.) Ask a ROW-let type where Row-LET came from, and you will likely hear him say, “The Yankees did it.”

English teachers sometimes duck the issue by pointing out that “Rowlett” is, in each case, a proper noun and, therefore, exempt from the usual pronunciation rules.

Reared in this atmosphere of split pronunciations, some Rowlett youngsters feel “OK” with Row-LET, which may widen the generation gap, but seems to have more snap to it.

Carolynn Canon, an officer with Security Bank in Garland, allowed that while she now spoke Row-LET, she still thought ROW-let and was ready to revert as required.

A final respondent expressed relief that virtually no one used Rou-LAY; that might be a tad highbrow.