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SAY `HOOKER' WITH A `P' TO FIT RIGHT IN

At Weber County meetings, some staff members are so afraid of ridicule they don't even try to say it.

And when newcomers are passing through, it's easy to pick them out by their pronunciation of the name of this tiny unincorporated community.What's so hard about saying Hooper? Just like trooper, right?

Wrong.

It's Hooper, like hooker.

Town historian Marie Haws Beecher, who was born in Hooper in 1919, wishes there was an easier way to get the pronunciation across. But the Hooper-hooker method seems to work.

And don't try too hard to say it right, or you might call the town "Hupper." To locals, that's even worse than rhyming it with trooper, Beecher said.

"We all grew up saying it the right way," Beecher said. "It's been a joke all of our lives."

She said the name originated in 1849 with William H. Hooper, a prominent Salt Lake resident and U.S. congressman who kept a herd of cattle on land ranging from Syracuse north to the Weber River and west to the Great Salt Lake.

"He had all of this as his herding grounds and he was quite happy with living here," Beecher said. "Whether he pronounced it Hooper (like hooker) or Hooper (like trooper), we don't know."

But she's pretty sure he used the pronunciation that is used for the town name today.

William H. Hooper built the first building in the area, a herd house. So when the first settlers moved to the area in 1863, and others followed in 1868, the area was named after him, Beecher said.

Marianna Di Paolo, an associate professor of English and linguistics at the University of Utah, said the pronunciation isn't unusual.

People have similar differences of opinion on the pronunciation of words like roof, root and room, she said.

Janet Gibbs, who has lived in Hooper for more than 20 years, said she can't remember if she pronounced the name wrong when she first arrived.

"You've got to get that little twist in your mouth," she said.