The U of MN is a place of many mysteries. Why do the connectors come into a stop stacked three-at-a-time, then have a fifteen-minute gap until the next three arrive? What kind of meat is served in the resident halls? Today, we here at The Black Sheep are tackling one of the greatest mysteries on campus that no one really cares about: what is the correct pronunciation of Willey Hall?
You see, there are two major schools of thought concerning this topic: that the building’s name is pronounced “Will-e,” like Willie Wonka, or that it’s pronounced “While-e,” like the Looney Tunes coyote.
Looking at the spelling of the name, one would think that the first pronunciation is correct. It’s not spelled “Wiley” or “Whiley.” The double-L’s suggest that it’s like the name “Will” with a long E at the end.
In terms of popular usage, the second option is clearly dominant among the student body. This is surprising, as it is hard to see why a college student would pass up an accepted opportunity to call a campus building a euphemism for penis. In the older populations, it seems to be a more even split with a slight favoring towards the first option.
Well, surely if we figure out whom the building was named after there should be a way to find out the truth? Except finding out exactly whom the building is attributed to proved exceptionally and surprisingly difficult. The only Willeys of note in Minneapolis appear to be Malcolm and Nancy Willey, who got their house built by a famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Operating under the assumption that these likely quite rich and semi-influential people are indeed the benefactors and the attributed Willeys of Willey Hall, they are in fact pronounced by the first option, and therefore the building should be pronounced by the first option as well.
Does this mean that those who pronounce it by the second option are wrong? Well, yeah.
Language is full of technicalities people don’t care about. This article will not produce a mass change in how millennials pronounce Willey Hall, nor will it halt the years of violence between these two warring campus factions. We all know you’re talking about the building right off the bridge on West Bank where like half of the freshman body has some lecture. That’s all that language needs to do.
Though The Black Sheep will henceforth pronounce it “Willie Hall.” Because we honor the Willey Family that hired a guy to make a house that one time and also because we like saying willie. It’s funny. Dicks are funny.