This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

How to pronounce Spanish place names in Southern California


Nothing gives you away faster that you are a tourist than mispronouncing the names of streets, towns, etc. In Southern California there are a lot of things that are named in Spanish, but knowing how to pronounce Spanish won't really help you all that much. Rolling these place names off your tongue as if you were Antonio Banderas will just have the locals staring at with a puzzled look, or maybe laughing at you. Here are some pronunciations that will help:

Sepulveda. No, you don't pronounce it with the emphasis on the second-to-the-last syllable. That will sound musical, but it won't help you communicate to people in Los Angeles if you need to find this street. It is pronounced: "Suh - PUL - vadah".

Los Angeles. If you speak Spanish, you know that that "Los" is different from "Las" and that the letter g is always pronounced hard, as in "golf". But "Los Angeles" is pronounced by locals as "Las ANJELES"

Santa Monica. Pronounced as if there were no t. Simply Sanna - MONICA. The same with Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, or anywhere the word Santa is used. Simply Sanna.

And don't be thrown off if you know that "brea" means oil, or "cienega" means swamp. You will find places named after these streets and there hasn't been any oil, or a swamp, there for such a long time that the names are meaningless.

No, there are no rules. It's just what people who live there have come to expect things to be called. When in doubt, just point to a map.


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