Bear vs. Deer: Syracuse pronunciation saga continues

About 3,000 people have suggested how SU Chancellor Kent Syverud should say the city and school's name, but there is no clear winner yet.

Syracuse University’s new chancellor is still on his quest for the correct pronunciation of “Syracuse.” 

Kent Syverud said that he’s heard from about 3,000 people in recent weeks since posing the question whether the “Syr-“ in Syracuse is properly enunciated to rhyme with either “bear” or “deer.”  In an email to students and faculty Thursday, Syverud said the results are too close to declare an official pronunciation.

Here’s what Syverud has found so far:

  • Syracuse natives are almost equally divided between the two pronunciations, with “bears” slightly leading the way.
  • Those from Western New York, the Midwest and China mostly agree that “deer” is the correct enunciation.
  • Recommendations from those from Liverpool, Long Island and Korea conclude that the first part of “Syracuse” should rhyme with “bear.”
  • Members of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications agree with “deer.”
  • Rugby team players say “bear.”

The lack of conclusive results led him to alternate between the two pronunciations during commencement, Syverud explained in his email.

Syverud has tasked SU’s Recreation Services department with organizing a competition this fall that will help settle the matter.  The winning team – either “bears” or “deers” – will determine how he pronounces the first part of “Syracuse” for the next academic year.

How do you think it should be pronounced?  Or, like Syverud, are you undecided? Vote in the poll or comment below.

Bear vs. Deer debate

#teamdeer all the way

#teamdeer all the way

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