NEW ORLEANS – Pronouncing street names in New Orleans is not only challenging, it can get downright ugly when one person is insistent that there’s only one correct way to pronounce Euterpe.
But fortunately, according to Tulane Professor Richard Campanella, “language is fluid,” and everyone needs to calm down when it comes to pronouncing street names in the Crescent City.
“A pronunciation is variable and I would recommend that people would find beauty in that rather than resist it and insist that there’s really only one correct way,” Campanella said.
The streets named after the nine Greek Muses in the Garden District and Uptown can seem like they’re impossible to pronounce.
Over the years, the pronunciation of some of these names has changed with time.
What started as the true Greek pronunciation has evolved into a New Orleanian way, but if you watch the video above, you can learn both!
New Orleans city planner Barthelemy Lafon designed the streets in 1810 when Ancient Greek style was the style. Lafon wanted to name nine particular streets after the Greek goddesses of inspiration.
Here are the names of the 9 Muses streets and what they mean:
- Urania, the Muse of astronomy
- Thalia, the Muse of comedy and of playful and idyllic poetry
- Euterpe, the Muse of tragedy
- Calliope, the Muse of epic poetry
- Clio, the Muse of history
- Erato, the Muse of love poetry and mimicry
- Melpomene, the Muse of tragedy
- Terpsichore, the Muse of dancing
- Polyhymnia, the Muse of sacred poetry