Pronunciation problems: How to say ‘Gonzaga’

Pronunciation problems: How to say ‘Gonzaga’

It’s only one syllable, but it’s enough to make Gonzaga fans throughout the country cringe.


Anyone who knows the school will tell you- it’s “Go Zags, not Go Zogs.”

So where does the confusion come from? From the same place as the school’s name.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga.

“He was a member of the Italian aristocracy, his father was a Marquis and thus a ruler in Renaissance Italy,” said Dr. RaGena DeAragon, a professor of history at GU.

With a name like Aloysius he’s not one of the more common saints, or Jesuits. and maybe there’s so much debate over Gonzaga-Gon-ZAH-ga.

But, bottom line:

“In Italy, [Gonzahga] would be the appropriate pronunciation,” DeAragon said.

That’s fair enough, and Gonzaga students who attend the University’s campus in Florence, Italy, are likely to run into some professors and locals who use that pronunciation.

But, some sportscasters back here at home say Gon-ZAH-ga- Why?

“It’s probably regional. We have a tendency to change pronunciation of regional names to suit our own regional accent,” Dr. DeAragon said.

Ever heard someone from the East coast try to pronounce Yakima? Or Puyallup? Sometimes, it takes a couple tries.

So, what does it mean- are they both right? Technically, yes. Does it mean we should let broadcasters off easy next time? Probably not.

“That would be somebody not doing their homework, basically, to find out how to pronounce the name.” Dr. DeAragon said.

It’s unlikely to hear students at the University of Notre Dame pronounce their school like the cathedral in France, just as residents of St. Augustine, Florida to sound out their city like the name of the Catholic saint.

Gonzaga’s website actually spells out the preferred pronunciation for you.
Gone- ZAG (as in bag) – uh

If Gonzaga’s near 20 years on the national sports scene have taught the nation nothing else it’s this:

‘It should be clear that we don’t pronounce it in the Italian pronunciation” Dr. DeAragon said.

But, people will say what they want. Dr. DeAragon thinks about it this way.

“Perhaps they’re invoking prayers to our patron saint so that the team, which is Gonzaga, will do well,” she said.