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Pronouncing "Los Angeles"

Image by the Los Angeles Almanac.

There was once heated debate over how to pronounce “Los Angeles.” The Spanish pronunciation of the name has long been “Loce AHN-heh-less.” Yet, non-Spanish speaking Angelenos seemed to prefer the harder-sounding anglicized version “Loss ANN-ja-less.” The anglicized version was adopted, in 1934, by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the Los Angeles Times vigorously defended the Spanish pronunciation and printed directly below its editorial page masthead, “LOS ANGELES (Loce Ahng-hayl-ais).” When the U.S. Board on Geographic Names recognized the anglicized version, the Times was outraged, declaring that the pronunciation made the city “sound like some brand of fruit preserve.” The newspaper further suggested that Easterners plotted to deprive the West Coast of its softer-sounding Spanish names, proposing that California would next have to tolerate such place names as "Sandy Ego," "San Joce," and (for San Joaquin) "San Jokkin" (Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1934). In all fairness, however, the Times did not express the same distain for the prevalent pronunciation of San Pedro as “San PEE-dro,” rather than the Spanish “San PEY-dro.”

Pronunciation of "Los Angeles" shown in masthead from opinion page, Los Angeles Times, June 1, 1925.

In 1952, Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron assembled a panel to come up with the city’s own official pronunciation of its name. The panel included language professors, radio announcers and journalists. They agreed to the anglicized version "Loss ANN-ju-less." Even so, some early 1950s Los Angeles travel films still used alternative pronunciations, such as "Loss ANN-geh-less" (with a hard "G").

Today, with the exception of those who use the city’s original Spanish pronunciation, “Los Angeles” is commonly pronounced according to the anglicized version

Also see:
-- Where Did the Name Los Angeles Come From?
-- Nicknames for Los Angeles