A guide to Louisiana pronunciation

My prayers this morning are centered on my homeland.

Louisiana braces once again for the landfall of a powerful hurricane - this time nearly three years to the day after the Hurricane Katrina debacle.

I've been in hurricanes. To be honest, they can be kind of fun. If you're in a place where it is safe to not evacuate, you hunker down with your family and friends. After the power goes out you cook all the food in the freezer to try to keep it from spoiling. You sit up all night watching battery powered televisions and listening to battery powered radios to get the most up-to-date information possible.

But it is decidedly more difficult to be sitting in New Jersey and watching it all unfold from afar.

It is difficult to be consumed with worry as you see those places that are so familiar, and think about the people that you love who inhabit them, and to not know what's happening.

Perhaps most difficult, however, is listening to news anchors in New York trying to pronounce Louisiana names. Here's a quick guide:
  • Houma = HOE-muh (not HOO-mah)
  • Thibodaux = tih-buh-DO
  • Plaquemines = PLACK-uh-mihn (not PLACK-mines)
  • Lafayette = LAF-ee-ette (not luh-FAY-ette, and not lah-FI-ette)
  • New Orleans = new OR-lihnz (not some fake "nawlinz" - only local New Orleans natives are allowed to say it that way, and even many of them don't - nor New OR-LEENS)
Those are the ones I've heard most often this morning. But in general, when in doubt, just pronounce whatever you see with a French accent. That will solve any number of pronunciation issues in Louisiana names.

And continue to pray for the people and places of Louisiana. They've had a rough go of it these past few years, and they need our support.

** UPDATE **  (2/5/2010)

So, I've notices that this is one of my "most viewed" posts.  Even when it's not hurricane season, people still seem to be perplexed about the proper pronunciation of Louisiana names - even the name of the state itself.  So here's the update, that I hope will be helpful to those who are finding this post via searches.

Louisiana is pronounced as follows - lou-EE-zee-AN-nuh

It is not "LOO-ZEE-AN-nuh".  When northerners say that to us, we tend to be offended and feel "talked down to".  Please be kind.  It's true, the education system in Louisiana is nowhere near the best.  But all the same, the people there aren't idiots.  Please try to have a bit of respect.

If you've found this page and don't find the word that you're searching for, please leave a comment.  I will respond quickly.  Thanks!


Liz said…
Okay, I'll try again. When will I learn that you've got to be a member...

Anyway, I agree with your comment about how hurricanes can be fun. I never remember being scared during storms. Partly because we lived in a sturdy house and, I would guess, mostly because my parents showed no signs of great fear. We prepared like everyone else and waited for it to come. We always had a great time playing cards and various games and visiting with the neighbors. We had a coleman stove for cooking and a swimming pool with a seemingly unending supply of water for the toilet. It wasn't until last year that I found out if you live in the city, you still have water and sewer services when the lights go out. I almost never slept during the storms because I couldn't miss a second of the action. We didn't have the luxury of a battery operated T.V. but we had a weather radio that also caught some T.V. stations.

Now that I've moved away and purchased my own home it's not as carefree and exciting. I miss that naivity. I stayed with my parents for Rita but worried about my place 40 miles away most of the time. This time I didn't go to their house, I stayed home. Instead of worrying about my place, I wondered about all of the fun they were having without me. Thank goodness Gustav wasn't the threat we thought it would be. Still I had my own yard to clean up, some giant branches to cut.

I was fortunate enough to be off from work the next day. I got up early to clean up my yard. As I picked up branches and trash I couldn't help but noticed the neighbor to the right didn't even have a branch out of place in their yard. The plastic patio furniture strung out in their yard before they evacuted was still in place after the storm. Some people are lucky. We always have to find something to complain about... Although, I actually like cleaning up after the storms. It's a kind of renewal, I guess, for the yard and the body. Anyway, another neighbor came out to help me saw my big branch into manageble pieces. (I know this is a perfectly fine statement but, being from the south, maybe I should say, "to help me cut.") Next thing I know, I'm drinking gatorade on his porch. We had cleaned my yard and his. We were on to another neighbor's house to pitch in. By the end of the day we had taken care of 5 or 6 yards and I met some new neighbors.

Now we're watching Ike. We're going to get it, then they say we're in the clear. Now, we're back to being in his path. I have always had difficulty in praying for it to hit somewhere else. Maybe because I have family all along the Gulf Coast and even in Mexico. I just pray that we will be alright and we'll take the opportunity to be with our families and friends and realize our blessings.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated and greatly needed. Thank you and, of course, you are always in mine.