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Pronouncing "Los Angeles"

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.” English-speaking Angelenos, however, generally prefered 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).” The newspaper was outraged by the Board on Geographic Names recognition of the Anglicized version of the name, declaring that pronunciation made the city “sound like some brand of fruit preserve.” The newspaper suggested that Easterners plotted to deprive the West Coast of its softer-sounding Spanish names, proposing that California would next have to tolerate place names such as "Sandy Ego," "San Joce," and (for San Joaquin) "San Jokkin" (Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1934). The Times, however, 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 study and propose what the city’s official pronunciation of its name should be. 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 continued to use alternative pronunciations, such as "Loss ANN-geh-less" (with a hard "G").

Today, excepting those who continue to use the city’s original Spanish pronunciation, “Los Angeles” is commonly pronounced in the Anglicized version

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