An excellent Kim du Toit piece on Uniquely British Pronunciations brought lots of responses, including this bit of reciprocation:
The state of Arkansas is pronounced as if it were spelled “arkansaw,” but the city of Arkansas City, Kansas, is pronounced “Ar-KAN-sas,” exactly like it’s spelled.
Which brings you to the Arkansas River. Starting at the headwaters, near Leadville, Colorado — after the toxic metal, not something mentioned in Glengarry Glen Ross — and continuing through Kansas, it’s given the “Ar-KAN-sas” treatment; the moment it crosses into Oklahoma, it takes on the name of the state of Arkansas.
The capital of South Dakota, Pierre, is pronounced “Peer.” New Madrid, MO, is New “MAD-rid,” and then there’s Beaufort, South Carolina and Beaufort, North Carolina where one of them is pronounced “BYEW-fort” and the other is pronounced “BOW-fort” (and I honestly can’t remember which is which).
“BYEW-fort” is the one in South Carolina.
Then there’s Cairo, Illinois, like Karo the syrup. (Aside: If you’ve ever wondered about low-fructose corn syrup, that’s Karo.) And there’s Versailles, Kentucky, which is “ver-SAYLS,” nothing at all like its French forbear. (Likewise for Versailles, Indiana, and for Versailles, Ohio.)
And pity the poor Englishman who visits the Pacific Northwest and has to pronounce place names like Puyallup.
I never can be sure if I’m saying “Puyallup” correctly; I tend to render it as “poo-WALLOP.” On the other hand, I have no problem with Sequim, which is delightfully monosyllabic: “SKWIHM.”