I grew up in St. Louis. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. The quirky pronunciations that only St. Louis has for words that stem from other languages. I took five years of French, and while I cannot speak fluently (use it or lose it is totally true), I can pronounce the language still very well. That’s why some of these just make me cringe. Like, close my eyes and take deep breaths, cringe.
But with that said, I love St. Louis and it’s quirkiness. And I thought I’d share the humor with you today.
- Gravois – Correctly pronounced “Grav-wah“. But how does St. Louis pronounce it? “Gra-voy“. (this is also the case with Illinois – which correctly would be prounounces “Ee-lee-nwah“
- Chouteau – named after Auguste Chouteau, the founder of St. Louis. Correctly pronounced like his last name would be “Shoo-Toe” however the lovely St. Louisans call it “Show-Toe” or “Show-Doe” *cringe*
- Laclede’s Landing – This is the northern part of the original settlement founded by the Frenchman Pierre Laclède, whose landing on the riverside the place-name commemorates. St. Louis says “La-Cleed“, using the long e, however the correct way is “La-Cled” the shorter e.
- Des Peres– The name Des Pères is a French term which means “of the Fathers”. It should be pronounced “Day Pair” however while the Pair is pronounced correctly, in St. Louis it’s either “Duh-Pair” or “Da-Pair”.
- Creve Coeur – The name crève coeur means heartbreak (or a direct translation of broken heart) in French. The correct French pronunciation would be “Crev-Curr” (rhymes with Brrr… I’m cold!). It was derived from Creve Coeur Lake, which according to the city’s website, is because the lake “formed itself into a broken heart” after an Indian princess’s unrequited love for a French fur trapper led her to jump “from a ledge overlooking” the lake. How does St. Louis say it? “Creev Core“
- DeBaliviere Place – “duh-bah-liver” is how the local’s say it. It’s an affluent area in St. Louis that overlooks Forest Park and is filled with some of the most beautiful mansions in the city. However correctly pronounced would be a bit more fitting for the area “Dee-Bay-Leave-Ee-Air” Uhm. Yeah.
- Bellefontaine Neighbors – Oh St. Louis, poor, sweet St. Louis. The french to English translation is “Beautiful Fountain” however that doesn’t mean that is how you pronounce it, but you do, don’t you?… “Bell-Fountain“. Nope guys, that’s just not right. “Bale-Font-Ain“
- Goethe Avenue – Named in honor of the German poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who happens to share a birthday with me (august 28). If you were German, you would be saying “Gurr-Tah” but nope, St. Louis locals had to make it their own, and instead refer to it as “GO-thee“. Perhaps they need to “go thee” back to school. haha
- Lemay Ferry – Lemay was named after Francois Lemai, who operated a ferry boat across the Meramec River in the early nineteenth century. It is obviously French so would be pronounced “Le-May” however, the great old city of St. Louis calls it “LeeMay“.
- Gratiot Street – The formal pronunciation is “grah-tsee-oh” (kinda rhymes with Yahtzee, the popular game) but locals say it as “Grash-it”, (rhymes with crash-it).
- Carondolet – Correct? “Ca-Ron-Doe-Lay” but St. Louis likes the T sound and instead says “Ca-ron-doe-let“
- Florissant – Translates from French to English as Thriving or Flourishing. It is similar to the one above in that the T would be silent, yet St. Louis has tacked in on. St. Louis says “Floor-i-sant” however, correctly it would be “Floor-Ee-Saun” (like sauna with out the a)
- Fort De Chartres – I have heard so many different ways that locals pronounce this word, but correctly would be “Four Du Sha Tra”
- Spoede – This isn’t French, it’s actually dutch and it means “depart”. Locals say it “Spay Dee“. It should be “Spoo De“
And don’t even get me started on the actual word Saint Louis which would be pronounced “San-Loo-wee“