Jean-Paul Villere: Annunciation ain’t just a street in New Orleans

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Jean-Paul Villere

With the annual replenishment of the Crescent City’s back to school population each August (read: freshmen, grad / med / law students, and transfers), my ears perk up over the newer voices one encounters and how they finesse our local vocab.  My audio focal point will forever be the new crop of WTUL deejays who unmistakably take the crown for what I can only describe as interpretive “annunciation.”  Between the butchering of street names, there are always the local musicians’ monikers that invariably twist tongues.  I mean, is Torkanowsky really that hard to correctly pronounce?  Le sigh.  Let’s go over a few basics on the rue tip:

Milan: Forget the Italian city you thought you knew as mee-lahn, in New Orleans it’s my-lann.

Conti / Tonti: While many favor a –tie it’s preferred as a –tee, as in con-tee / tawn-tee.

Clio: The storied street that crosses St. Charles is not klee-oh, it’s kly-oh — or if you’re really in the know then cee-elle-ten (C-L-10).

Treme: Just because HBO made a show by the same name doesn’t mean most know it isn’t tream but tremm-aa.

Iberville: This one’s a toss up, as one hears ibber-ville just as much as eye-ber-ville.

Jena: Many newbies go for Gee-na as in Davis, but we go for Jenn, so it’s jenn-uh.

Cadiz: Like Iberville, this one cuts both ways as either cuh-deez or cay-dizz.

Peniston: Everyone’s favorite but avoid being phallically challenged, shoot for pen, and go pen-iss-ton.

Dufossat: The preferred is doo-faucet but on occasion one will hear doofus-at.

Colapissa: you’re on your own.

Good luck neo-New Orleanians!  Here, “annunciation” is as much the art of practice as it is set in tile across the sliver by the river.  Practice, practice, practice, mes amis nouveaux.

Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

16 thoughts on “Jean-Paul Villere: Annunciation ain’t just a street in New Orleans

  1. Somehow I ended up saying ‘Con-taye’ but ‘Ton-tee.’ And I feel like I hear some New Orleanians lilting a ‘Tri-mee’ for Treme.

    How about one that baffles me — Cucullu? Can you help out with it? I usually end up rhyming it with Cthulhu, but I’m guessing the real way of saying it is more interesting yet.

    • Mmm could be, though seems a slippery slope between pronounce, announce, annunciate, and enunciate. They all mean a version of the other depending on the exact action. But then I’m no linguist either –

  2. Having grown up on Con-tie and moving back there in my adult life, I can attest to two things: it really is Con-Tie, and yes, it goes all the way to lakeview (70124).

  3. Some of those college kids might be living on Burthe (“byooth”) in the University area.

    Lots of other fun ones: Foucher, Melpomene, Chartres, Burgundy, etc. etc. etc.

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