Angeleno or Angeleno? The definitive L.A. demonym is …

Last time in this room, I wrote to start a middle-class discussion of what it takes to be an Angeleno.

This time I’m writing to settle a discussion.

Someone who lives in Los Angeles, city or county is an Angeleno. No Angelino.

Every few years, this theme pops up like dormant insects persistently emerging from their hibernation. And so it’s time again to bring out the bug spray and kill “Angelino” and worse twists on the simple and elegant word for who we are.

What you say? Live and let live? “Los Angelino” or “Angelean” or “Los Angelean” – whatever?

No no no no não nyet nahi không voch und ixnay. If you call yourself “Angelino”, you must live in a place called “Los Angelis”, wherever that is. The city and county name is Los Angeles. Calling an Angeleno an Angelino is like calling a New Yorker a “New Yirker,” a resident of an imaginary city called New Yirk.

The word for a resident of a place is “demonym,” and I can be a demonym on the subject.

I have the support of the online referee Wikipedia. Look under “Angelino” and you will find “For a Los Angeles resident, see Angeleno.” And if you prefer the old school, the sublime Encyclopedia uses Britannica with more than a quarter of a millennium’s worth of candles on their birthday cake “Angeleno”.

The “Angelino” faction loses even after numbers. “Angelino” first appeared in The Times in March 1887 in a story about new electric lamps and smallpox concerns, and for more than a century was cited only about 300 times in news articles thereafter. However, “Angeleno” first appeared in an agricultural story in January 1882, just a few weeks after the newspaper began publication, and thereafter enjoyed more than 14,000 uses in news articles.

I’ve known Fernando Guerra for a long time. He is an Angeleno native who is now Professor of Political Science, International Relations and Chicana/o Latina/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University. More importantly, for our purposes, he is the director of the university’s Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles.

Several times a year, the center commissions studies and surveys, such as the one that asks residents of LA County and the city if they consider themselves Angelenos. For years, more than 70% have answered “yes”.

In his teaching, it’s “not uncommon for it to come up in conversation with students, and “most of them say it sounds more natural to be -eno”.

So why did “Angelino” get a purchase at all, I asked him. “That’s pure conjecture on my part. I’ve thought about it from time to time, and I’m not really a historian, but my feeling was [people] are ignorant, and that some did so in order to distinguish the “new Los Angeles” – the Anglo-LA of modern times – “from the Spanish or Mexican Los Angeles”.

The relevant part of the text reads: "LOS ANGELES (Loce Ahng-hayl-ais)

Times masthead, printed January 1, 1920. Note the attempt to explain how to pronounce “Los Angeles” at the bottom: Loce Ahng-hayl-ais.

(Los Angeles Times Archives)

A little off topic as far as pronunciation goes, it is true that in the early decades of the 20th century People who flocked here from the East and Midwest—among them the city’s Nebraska-born Mayor Sam Yorty—were quite impatient at the idea that they should work on mastering the Spanish pronunciation. Yorty pronounced it nasally and with a hard G, “Ang” like “bang”, “huh-luss”. The Times printed a helpful crier on its masthead for years: “Loce Ahng-hayl-ais.” But when the US Board of Geographic Names decreed in 1934 that it be pronounced “Loss An-je-less,” much like we do today, the Times said it made us sound like “some kind of canned fruit,” repeating it his own speaker as a truly Spanish one.

Shortly after Guerra and I spoke, he emailed me: “I just noticed that when you write speech-to-text with your phone or computer, the word Angelino is always spelled out.” Somewhere to some software company – I would like to speak to you.

Bill Deverell, USC history professor and director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, prefers the -eno version. “I have – rightly or wrongly – put the suffix -ino in a point of origin ‘from Europe, probably Italy’. So I like the Mexican border area ‘eno’ better, although I recognize that Spain is also European.”

Angelino Heights is the name of one of LA’s oldest neighborhoods, crowned by picturesque Carroll Avenue, a street of absolutely jewel-like Victorian-era homes, a street often frequented by film and television crews and tourists in search of the “real”. ” locations. Its spelling is much disputed. The development was originally purported to be “Angelino Heights,” but the streetcar destination was “Angeleno Heights.” Until the 1980s, residents still debated the spelling, and the Angeleno Heights Community Organization hosted an annual Christmas party.

A blue district sign indicates this "Angeleno Hgts." However, the historical identifier spells it "Angelino Heights."

So what is it – Angeleno or Angelino? These signs near the intersection of Edgeware Road and Belleview Avenue are of no help.

(Matthew Ballinger / Los Angeles Times)

Leo Politi, the LA artist and author of delightful children’s books, charmingly illustrated LA’s various neighborhoods, including one he called “Angeleno Heights.” Well, Politi was Italian-American, so of course he knew “Angelino” was Italian.

The correct Spanish pronunciation of “Angeleño” is “Ahn-hell-len-yo” as indicated by the tilde, the diacritic over the second n. Writer DJ Waldie, my friend and literary idol, has written wistfully about restoring the Spanish pronunciation of “Angeleño” with the tilde; By the 1860s, he observed, residents typically spoke at least a little of each other’s languages, and “Angeleños” with the tilde is what you’ve probably heard.

Guerra thinks the ship has sailed. “It’s too difficult to get people to do this now, especially when there isn’t a group or movement” pushing for it. It’s not dissimilar to how locals pronounce “San Pedro” as “San Peedro.” “The ownership in that neighborhood, when they took that word — the people who live in San Pedro, including Latinos, talk about that particular place, and they wouldn’t have a problem going to San Pedro in Mexico and saying ‘San Pedro’ accept. ”

You may have noticed that Guerra’s professorship includes Latina/Latino and Chicana/Chicano. But he laughed when I said I think saying “Angelena” can be more confusing than enlightening for a woman from LA. (Not that I’d object to being confused with the eponymous “Angelina Jolie,” but to add even more confusion, it sounds more like what it means when pronounced with the tilde “Angeleña” rather than without.)

Billy Joel jumped into this about 50 years ago. He briefly lived in LA and left us a song: “Los Angelenos”. He hit the high points that we “all come from somewhere/to live in the sunshine/their funky exile” and about the colonies of the canyons and hills.

But “Los Angelenos” – “The Angelenos” – is not usually what we call ourselves. We call it “The Sunset Strip” and “The 405 Freeway,” but rarely “Los Angelesos.” Saying “I’m a Los Angeleno” roughly translates to “I’m an Angeleno,” with “Los” indicating a plural to make it even more confusing.

The redundancy of the “La Brea Tar Pits” is a charming local quirk – “the the tar tar pits”. But “I am a the Angeleno” sounds both confused and messianic.

Nevertheless, Angelenos can count himself lucky. Residents of nearly 90 Los Angeles County towns are burdened with some strange demonyms: Monterey Parkers, San Dimasans, Hidden Hillers, Hawaiian Gardeners, Walnutters.

We could amuse ourselves by launching a branding campaign for neighborhood residents in the city of LA. Eagle rockers? Carthay Circler? Mar Vistans?

The people of Venice are true Venetians, but they are so proud of being orbitally separated that they might prefer to be Venusians. Angeleno or Angeleno? The definitive L.A. demonym is …

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