What Lilly in “The Grifters ” Called it . . .


THE L.A. TIMES’ Steve Harvey had a amusing column in today’s paper about the issue of pronouncing the city’s of Los Angeles’ name. Over the years, I’ve noted that it’s regional. So many friends and relatives, deacades ago, would often mangle it terribly. Trying to twist it into something fancier or folksier than need be.

Snip from Harvey’s piece here:

In the early 1900s, The Times advocated the Spanish version, carrying a box by its editorial page masthead that proclaimed the way to say Los Angeles was Loce AHNG-hayl-ais.

English speakers who found that difficult could only be thankful that the city had shortened its original name, which some scholars believe was El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula.

The Times’ campaign aside, the United States Board on Geographic Names decreed in 1934 that the name should be Anglicized to Loss AN-ju-less.

Harvey’s newspeg is Texas Governor Rick Perry’s mangling of the city’s name, where he apparently welcomed a room with “Buenos dias, Los Angeles!” According to Harvey, “He rendered the city’s name as Loce AN-guh-leeze, as though it contained a hard G and rhymed with “fleas.”

One of my favorite on-screen elaborations is in the Grifters, when Anjelica Houston’s character Lily, let’s it roll off her lips “Los AN-ju-leez” I wish there were a clip to be found in the YouTube universe, but alas, there is not.

The piece made me think about how people mispronounce other city names — New Orleans comes to mind immediately. New Orleaneans are quick to correct you after about the third try — usually they do it by saying the city’s name — a lot — in conversation, hoping you’ll catch on. Angelenos don’t do the same thing, I’ve noted.

My favorite from Harvey’s column is this one, uttered by the former Mayor:

A few years later, Times columnist Jack Smith detected another mayor, Sam Yorty, using “a sort of nasalized Law SANG-lus” version, which he “brought with him from Nebraska.”

That brought me back to watching “The Big News” on KNXT with Jerry Dumphy. Long, long time ago . . .

(title card image via http://annyas.com/screenshots)


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