It’s a timeless — by L.A. standards — dispute: What’s the right way to pronounce “Los Feliz”? In response to Tuesday’s Column One on Anglicized versions of place names in Los Angeles reverting to their original Spanish pronunciations, more than a dozen readers weighed in, and not just on Los Feliz.
Three letters responding to the article were published Friday. Several readers whose letters weren’t printed offered their own ways of saying “Los Feliz” and other areas whose pronunciations are in friendly dispute. A selection of those responses appears below.
And for the record, this Glendale-raised Southern Californian says “los FEE-lus,” “san PEH-dro” (an utterance that typically draws a correction from the listener) and “luh-MERT park” — a place name that isn’t Spanish but whose “incorrect” pronunciation often prompts instruction from more in-the-know Angelenos.
— Paul Thornton, letters editor
Julia R. Lopez of Glendora weighs in on a common name in Los Angeles:
“The one name that is constantly mispronounced is the name Chavez. It is ‘CHA-vez,’ not ‘sha-VEZ.’ This applies to many news reporters and sports announcers.”
It isn’t only Spanish place names that are mispronounced, says Whittier resident Linda Harris:
“It is lovely to hear a native or well-trained Spanish speaker pronounce our beautiful California place names. It’s amusing to hear those of us who never developed a Spanish accent try to do the same.
“However, one attempt on a local news broadcast to be linguistically correct left me howling. A young Spanish-speaking reporter who also spoke flawless English used a Spanish-accented pronunciation of my hometown, Montebello.
“Montebello is an Italian place name.”
Los Angeles resident Eric Mankin discusses streets:
“In addition to dueling Los Feliz pronunciations, we have two variants that have been coexisting peacefully in Los Angeles for decades. Rodeo Drive down below the 10 Freeway is pronounced like the cowboy attraction. Then we have Rodeo Road just up to the north. Should we worry?”
Judith Cohen elucidates the Spanish speaker’s dilemma:
“Although I have been a competent Spanish speaker in my life, I’ve never pronounced it ‘los feh-LIS.’ That sounds too much like it’s saying ‘the happy people,’ not the family for which it is named. On the other hand, San Pedro sounds fine as ‘PEH-dro,’ even though I think the natives still say ‘PEE-dro.’ I’ll also come in on the side of ‘san ya-CIN-to.’
“The real trick in discerning a true native from a Westsider (besides whether he says ‘Westside’) is how he pronounces Cañon Drive in Beverly Hills. There is a tilde over the “n” on the street signs; the clues are there for all to see. Still, a newcomer will say ‘cannon.’ A Spanish speaker will say ‘can-YOHN.’ People in the know say ‘CAN-yon’”