I am in love with language. The extension of that is that I also love to listen to how people speak. I love accents, dialects, slang and colloquialisms — and in Los Angeles there is a veritable sea of language one swims through daily. It’s trained my ear to hear English spoken in so many different ways — vowels bent and twisted, syllables sped up or slowed down — sometimes even molding words and phrases into something poetic, into something that feels brand new.

But in a place with so many tongues, what Angelenos call themselves — and the history and debate surrounding it — has always been something I keep my ear trained on.

KPCC did a great segment this week on that long much-debated preferred spelling and pronunciation — Angeleno/Angeleño/Angelino (the latter, which Microsoft Word, to my deep personal frustration, deems the appropriate spelling)

A snip from the piece:

The traditional, Spanish pronunciation our city had lost the formal backing of Uncle Sam. In an editorial, the Los Angeles Times was furious:

Attempting to change the long-accepted (and correct) pronunciation of the names of their cities by official fiat from Washington will find no favor with the people of Southern California. Yet the United States Geographic Board is quoted as decreeing that we are to take the Spanish out of our city’s name and henceforth speak of it (as those ignorant of its origin already sometimes do) as “Loss An-je-less,” making it sound like some brand of fruit preserve.

“What next?” the editors feared. La Canada Flintridge? The San Jew-wah-kin Valley? La Jawl-la? Tuh-jung-uh?

And honestly, I have heard Tuh-jung-uh from native Angelenos more than I’d care to admit….

Click over here to read the rest of the piece and the wonderful essayist D.J. Waldie’s assessment and suggestion.


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