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Letters: Neighborhood naming rights

May 10, 2013
  • A pedestrian walks past the Los Feliz Theater on Vermont Avenue, a landmark of Los Angeles' Los Feliz neighborhood. No one can seem to agree if using the Spanish pronunciation (Los Fey-LEASE) is respectful — or pretentious. One resident says most still anglicize the neighborhood’s name (Los FEE-lus). “I don’t think one or the other is correct,” he said. “I think it’s a matter of understandability.”
A pedestrian walks past the Los Feliz Theater on Vermont Avenue, a landmark… (Luis Sinco, Los Angeles…)

Re "Accent on the saying power," Column One, May 7

Regarding the dispute over the proper way to pronounce neighborhood names in Los Angeles such as Los Feliz, in English there is a standard way to pronounce words from foreign languages. It is incorrect English to attempt to change the accent one is speaking in the middle of a sentence.

Yet there is a deplorable tendency among some now to show off their language chops by referring to, say, Italy's former prime minister as "SEEL-vyoh Bairrr-la-SKOHNNN-ee." We hear of "CHEE-lay" when the English name for this country is pronounced "chilly." I suppose "MEH-hee-ko" is on the way.

Doubtless this is motivated by guilt over Anglo-Saxon cultural hegemony, yet it is not reciprocal. People in Chile say "Londres," not "London," as is their right. And it is our right to say things our way.

Language is for communicating as easily as possible, not for waging culture wars.

Rory Johnston


The Times does a disservice to history by implying that the name of the city of El Segundo originated with Spanish settlers.

In fact, the name originated with Standard Oil when it purchased a slice of prime coastal land for its second California oil refinery (the first one being in Richmond, in the Bay Area). Hence, El Segundo — "the second" — in homage to the refinery.

While the language of the place-name El Segundo may indeed be Spanish, the only thing up for debate is whether its origins are leaded or unleaded.

David Gershwin

Los Angeles

Your feature on the competing pronunciations of Los Feliz was terrific. As a resident of the hills of Los Feliz for many years, I've always used the Anglicized version. But as to the frivolous pronunciation kerfuffle, I decline to participate.

Now decamped to the low, low desert (temporarily), in my heart, the best pronunciation is "heaven."

Don Belcher

Palm Springs


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