Bonus Round: How do you pronounce New Orleans?

Neworleanshouse_4As long as we’re keeping track of the rebuilding progress in New Orleans, I wonder:

How do y’all pronounce the name of the city?

As a not-very-well-traveled native of Burbank, I’ve always pronounced it "NEW-or-leans."

And when I’m trying to be cute, I pronounce it "NOIR-lins."

But when I’ve visited the area, several times in the last few months, I’ve noticed the folks down there pronounce it like this: "new-OR-lee-ins."

Or: "new-AH-lee-ins."

I love the latter two pronunciations and may just switch to one of those.

(Photo: Kathy Price-Robinson)

11 Comments on Bonus Round: How do you pronounce New Orleans?

  1. Bill Roussarie

    It’s simple, but complex:
    For a normal native, new OR lens.(R a little like the R is pronounced in Roissy-CGD airport in Paris, but not so just-W as the French roi.)
    If you are an Uptowner with money, aspire to be one or of a certain age, you may pronouce it new-OIL-y’ans. Cokie Roberts pronounces this version perfectly. Listen closely. Best for those who know what they are doing. you may be required to defend this.
    If you are refering to the Uptown society club on St. Charles Avenue, it is the French pronunciation, like the city in France (Orléans), with a nasal ending, or-LAY-on.
    If you are refering to the parish, the avenue, a description of anything without the New- or making a song rhyme, like in “Do you know what it means . . .”, it is or-LEENS. Probably OK for poetry. These are the only uses of or-LEENS!
    If you want a local to make a face like you are scratching your nails on a chalk board or chewing alumininum foil, call it new-or-LEENS.
    That has the ring of Frisco, Cincy or Bean Town.
    KPR: 🙂

  2. Rachele

    I spent my formative years in New Orleans, from 1976 to 1990.
    It’s “new OR-lins”

  3. jeffrey Colon

    it’s pronounced “NewOyunz”
    People from America call it New OR leans…. arghhhh!

  4. Slate

    “New” = “noo” (very rarely “nyoo”).
    OR-linz or ORL-yinz — 2 syllables, with r-coloring.
    AW-linz or AWL-yunz — 2 syllables, without r-coloring (so-called “dropped Rs”).
    OR-lee-inz — 3 syllables, with r-coloring.
    AW-lee-inz — 3 syllables, without r-coloring.
    I’ve heard a few older Garden District types say “noo OY-yunz.”
    “Orleans” is pronounced with a 2nd syllable stress (“or-LEENZ”) ONLY when talking about Orleans Parish, Orleans Street, or in the song: “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans.”
    KPR: Oh man, this makes me want to hop on a plane, fly down there, order up some chicory coffee and beignets, and soak up the lingo. Thanks for all these!

  5. Susanne

    I say new-OR-lens.
    I have heard some natives say new-OR-yuns and others say new-AW-linz.
    Never EVER have I heard a native say NAW-lins. This is an exaggeration popularized in the media.

  6. sheila

    off-topic — i am usually a modernist (on the rustic side more than the kitschy side, and not a minimalist), but for some reason, i adore N.O. architecture, which can only be described as the opposite end of the design spectrum! i love the photo — you can’t help but smile when you see a house all dressed up like that. it just reeks of good times and reflects the gorgeous, mysterious, witty and soulful nature of that fine city and her residents.
    i also liked the story and admire what Mr Borland is doing and why he’s doing it. a stark moral contrast to the lying dirtbag builder in the military-family story. lovely!

  7. Marcelle

    I agree with the prior writers, but I spell it differently when I explain how to pronounce it, “New war lins”. I have heard “New war leens” but not as often. I loved the article “Dispatch from New Orleans: SoCal Contractor Moved There After the Storms” Thank you for such an amusing article. Marcelle

  8. RJ

    “new OR-lee-ins” if you have the accent to match (a la Harry Connick Jr.), otherwise “new OR-lins”.

  9. Sarah

    I have lived in new orleans my entire life and there are basically only two acceptable ways.
    new OR-lee-ins or one suggested in another comment, New OR-lins.
    Only say New Or-LEENS if you’re singing about it.

  10. el guapo

    I grew up in Baton Rouge and lived in New Orleans for several years. If you say NOIR-lins, and you are not from there (and don’t have the accent to prove it), you are trying too hard, IMHO. New Or-lens (not LEANS) is the way to go. The version with about six syllables is also too much.

  11. Drew

    KPR: That’s good!