"New Orleans," pronunciation thereof

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 2 01:34:09 UTC 2009

All my life I said "New Or-LEENs" (note the "r"). Then I met people from
there who ridiculed me because they said "NAWlins" only.  They were my age,
so that pronunciation must have been standard in the 1950s if not before.

Reminds me of a note I posted a few years back about (Anglo) characters in
1930s movies saying "Los Angeleez," with a [g].


On Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 8:56 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "New Orleans," pronunciation thereof
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> All of my life, I've been under the impression that the "proper," i.e.
> local, pronunciation of the name of this city was - eye-dialect is
> sufficient unto this post - "New Aw-LEENS." However, I've long since
> seen the claim in print that the pronunciation is N'AW-lins. But what
> do travel reporters for the NYT know about the Mouth of The South?
> However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I was able to hear
> many instances of the local pronunciation of the city's name and lo!
> to my astonishment, the locals *did* say, "N'AW-lins"!
> Needless to say, since that time, I've wondered where TF did I get the
> impression that "New Aw-LEENS" was the local pronunciation. To the
> best of my memory, which is, as y'all know, unchallengeable, I learned
> that pronunciation down in Texas, about the time that I learned to
> understand English. But, in instances wherein my memory clashes with
> what even I recognize as the reality, I'm forced to "check myself."
> Getting to the point, iTunes has yielded the LC recordings of talk and
> piano-playing by Ferdinand Joseph "Jelly-Roll Morton" LaMothe. In a
> rap in which he conversates about the difference between ragtime as
> played in Saint Louis vs. the manner in which this musical genre is
> played in New Orleans, using The Maple-Leaf Rag as his exemplar, he
> clearly and consistently pronounces the name of the Crescent City, his
> hometown, only as "New Aw-LEENS."
> Apparently, we elderly have to concern ourselves with all kinds of
> changes in what is considered "correct" speech. Even *descriptive*
> grammar can't be relied upon, cross-temporally. Or should the be,
> "trans-chronically"?
> --
> -Wilson
> –––
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -----
> -Mark Twain
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