My mother called our city New AW-yunz. I say New OR-lens, although New AW-lens or New Or-lee-uns sometimes slides out of my mouth.
A local professor told me New Or-LEENS is the favored pronunciation in a few neighborhoods, but most of us say that only when singing “You know what it means to miss New Or-LEENS” or referring to Or-LEENS Parish. Or when commenting on our fellow New Or-LEEN-ians.
However it’s pronounced, it’s my home. It has its issues as any family does, but there’s nowhere on Earth I’d rather live.
If we don’t know how to pronounce our city’s name, it should be no surprise that although 2018’s calendar is filled with events commemorating the 300th anniversary of New Orleans’ founding, no one is sure of the exact date in 1718.
We do know that French Canadian Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville (he and his brother, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, explored the Mississippi River in 1699), defied orders to build the city nearer to what is now Baton Rouge. Instead Bienville chose a crescent in the Mississippi 90 nautical miles north of the mouth of the river.