Your Official New Orleans Pronunciation Guide
There is, famously, a distinct way of pronouncing things in the City of New Orleans... which mostly has to do with not pronouncing them as you might think, or as they're spelled, or as the gods of reason and logic demand. No, when it comes to street names, food, and other things we love here, it’s our patois and our heritage, and it ain’t going nowhere. Here's a field guide to walk you through it all:
New Orleans: noo-OAR-linz
Our fair city, warts, potholes, and all. Depending on where you’re from, the following variants are acceptable: noo-AW-lins; noo-AW-yins; noo-AW-lee-ins; and noo-OAR-lee-ins. But never noo-oar-LEENZ, please and thank you.
A street in noo-AW-lins
Metairie: MET-uh-ree; MEH-tree
A popular suburb in Jefferson Parish. The mall is there. And the big movie houses. And really great seafood.
Another street name. There are many in the city named after the Muses and other Greek myths.
Street name. See above.
Where you’ll find Da Rouse and Tipitina’s
The famous music venue on Tchoupitoulas
Rouses Markets: da-ROUSE
Where you make groceries
Where you also make groceries, if you happen to be in Metry
Da thing dat keeps ya head dry, brah!
A popular suburb just west of Metairie, where you’ll find the airport, great Honduran cuisine, and seedy “no-tell motels,” among other things
A region in France known for its wines, and also a New Orleans street name, as noted in the Tom Waits version of “I Wish I Was in New Orleans”
Not an insult. Another street name.
One of the founders of New Orleans, and a street where you’ll find Acme Oyster House and Felix’s
Beignet: BEN-yay; (also “DO-nut”)
Fried dough with powdered sugar, one of the most popular treats in the city which you’ll find at Cafe du Monde or Morning Call
Marigny: MA-ruh-nee (short “a” sound, like “cat”)
A notable New Orleans neighborhood shaped like a triangle, where you’ll find Frenchmen St and lots of great music, among other things
An old name for New Orleans neighborhoods, like da Marigny or da Treme
Another faubourg, one which famously bears the title of a great HBO show set in New Orleans, and has a fantastic theme song by John Boutte. Seriously, John Boutte is the best.
A highly popular local crustacean also known as “mudbugs” and a smaller cousin to the lobster, best eaten in mass quantities with corn, new potatoes, sausage, and mushrooms. But always "CRAW" and never "CRAY."
A sweet treat made of sugar, butter, pecans, and other wonderful things. Like crawfish: always "PRAW" and never "PRAY," which is what you do when the Saints are playing.
Vieux Carre: voo-kuh-RAY
An old term for the French Quarter (literally “Old Square”) and also the name of a really great cocktail invented at the Hotel Monteleone
A hotel in the Vieux Carre with a famous and very beautiful rotating carousel bar
Muffaletta: muff-ah-LOTTA; also (rarely) moo-fuh-LET-ah
An Italian-style sandwich with cured meats, cheese, and olive salad
What you do with ya hands in da zink
Where you wrench dem hands after eatin’ CRAW-fish
The very large lake north of New Orleans, where there is also a very long bridge called the Causeway (which is pronounced as it is spelled: CAWS-way). It literally used to be “the longest bridge in the world.”
Literally “smothered” in French, it is a rich Creole dish most often containing shrimp or crawfish and served over rice
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