Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 23:15:51 -0600


Subject: Re: St. Lewis

Thanks, Barry, for the St. Louis cites. Welcome back.

Was something official passed in 1918? This is from the Milwaukee

Journal, 19 April 1918, pg. 16, col. 3:

I don't know whether some official statement was made by St Louis

"authorities" in 1918, but it is not by any means infrequent that St

Louisans complain about how others pronounce the name of their fair city,

even though most of the population is in St. Louis County (and last week

the county voters turned down a tax to expand the city's recently built

light rail system, which working-class employees at Lambert Airport like,

according to the man who shined my shoes last week).


St. Louis, through its Chamber of Commerce, has decided how its own name

should be pronounced. It should, according to this edict of

"self-determination," be broadly anglicized and called "St. Lewis." "St.

Louis" is officially tabooed.

I suspect the issue here is both the vowel (boot vs put) as well as the

presence or absence of final [s]. In cases like this, there is often a

mishmash of misunderstanding (a-understanding?). The French pronunciation

would have a rising diphthong as opposed to the falling diphthong of the

English "Louie," so the complaint has more to do with the sound of an

English form than with preservation of a "pure" French form.

Another thing that bothers St Louisans is that out-staters often say "Sant

Louis" with the vowel of 'can' rather than "Saint..." with the vowel of

'paint'. Yes, they generally don't like "St Louie" except in the song.