By Nancy Walters
In September 2006, my husband Ken and I signed papers to purchase a lot in the Buffalo Hills subdivision of Chaffee County, Colorado. At the time, I was chafing at the local pronunciation of the county name, with a long ?. My family always pronounced the surname of my maternal grandfather, Arthur Chaffee, with a short vowel æ. That’s the phonics rule, right? A vowel before two consonants is pronounced as a soft vowel. I asked Gordon Sloat, our realtor, about this, and he assured me that locals always pronounce “Chaffee” with a long ?. Over time I adapted to local custom, not wanting to be heard as an outsider.