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West side street to see formal pronunciation change

Published On: Jul 15 2013 06:10:56 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 17 2013 02:39:01 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

If you're surprised to hear that Rosa Road on Madison's west side is pronounced "Rosay," you wouldn't be the only one.

"We say it Ros-uh Road," said area resident Tenzin Wangchuk of his pronunciation of the street, located near Old Middleton and Mineral Point roads.

Wangchuk's neighbor, Dan Broner, disagreed.

"We were informed about 10 years ago when we first moved here that it was really pronounced 'Rosay,'" Broner said. "But so as not to confuse people when giving directions, we call it 'Rosa.'"

According to another Rosa Road resident, Cindy Thiesenhusen, it depends on who you talk to.

"Well, you start with 'Rosay,' and if they look at you with this weird inquisitive look, you say, 'Rosa, off Mineral Point,'" she said.

The decades-long question of how to pronounce the street name may finally be over after city officials decided to take the matter into their own hands. City Attorney Michael May spearheaded a resolution to formally pronounce the street "Rosay Road" after doing a little research on the name's background. He described the project as a way to preserve Madison's history.

"The question is, do you want to stick with the historically correct reason the road is there, or do you want to have the history disappear?" May said. "One of the problems we have is that we lose our history all the time, and it disappears."

He spent several weeks researching Rosa Road and learned it was named for Charles Rosa, a state politician who served as a judge, worked on the state's tax commission and taught at nearby Beloit College.

May also got in touch with some of Rosa's relatives to learn more about him, including his great-nephew, John Rosa, who said he's used to people mispronouncing his last name.

“It's a little thing, but our name is spelled R-O-S-A, and most people think it's Spanish or Hispanic,” Rosa said.

According to May, the resolution will also prompt the city's Metro buses to change their automated speaker system to reflect the correct pronunciation.  He and other city officials will present their resolution at Tuesday's City Council meeting, and Rosa said he plans to attend in remembrance of his relative, who died in 1959.

“The man was honored with a road, and I think it's nice that people know it's pronounced the right away,” Rosa said.

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