You Say Los FEE-liz(?), I say Los Fe-LEEZ(?) story is that the area of Los Angeles just east of Hollywood and west of Interstate 5 known as Los Feliz was originally part of an early California land grant to one Corporal Jose Vicente Feliz. Later on (in case you missed benjamin’s Dead Angeleno bio of Griffith J. Griffith) the land was willed to the city of Los Angeles by the aforementioned philanthropist and wife-shooter. Once a home to the proud, seafaring Gabrielino Indians, Los Feliz is now known for its celebrity, hipster, and celebrity hipster inhabitants.

But how do you really pronounce Los Feliz?

I don’t know. I say Los Fe-LEEZ like everybody else (edit: Whoops, I meant FEE-liz.). If it was meant to be pronounced properly, FEE-liz would be felices because of the los, right? Shouldn’t it be El Feliz then? I looked all over for an official answer, but came up dry…

Until a few weeks ago when I was taking the bus from Hollywood to Glendale. It was one of those buses with the electronic voice that lets you know what streets are coming up. It pronounces the name Los Fe-LEEZ.


This must be the answer. It’s got to be the right one. I mean, city buses are pretty official, right?

UPDATE: In my haste to get the post up, I forgot to add a picture credit. Image courtesy of HoldThatTiger.

23 thoughts on “You Say Los FEE-liz(?), I say Los Fe-LEEZ(?)”

  1. I’m afraid I must respectfully crap all over your theory of disembodied-bus-voice authority, plausible though it may seem. Get on any 445, 446, or 447 bus heading south from downtown LA and the robo-voice will announce that you are going to “San PAY-dro,” but if you pronounce it like that down here, you will be instantly and somewhat peevishly corrected by the locals (including me).

    Sadly, the little digital guy who lives in all the buses does not seem to have done any research into how local place names are pronounced. I suspect that when in doubt, he simply guesses.

  2. So why do the San Pedrinos pronounce it “PEE-droh”, anyway?

    I mean, Spanish would be “PEH-droh”, right? And the usual Anglo mangling would be “PAY-droh”, just like the Bus Voice says.

    So where did “PEE-droh” come from, I wonder?

  3. Its original name was Rancho Los Feliz named after Don Antonio Feliz, who owned the 8,000-acre ranch. His lasy name was pronounced FEE-liz. So that’s how it should be pronounced I would guess.

  4. Why in the world was his name pronounced FEE-liz? That’s not even remotely how it would be pronounced in Spanish. GFTU, do you have any official backup on that statement? If so, I will gladly change my pronunciation.

  5. I am going on an old landlord who’s name was Carillo Feliz and it was pronounced FEE-Liz. But the joke was he said his name didn’t mean happy. That’s all I have to go on really, but all I have to go on that Silver Lake isn’t spelled as one word is all the street signs and Silver Lake signs that are all TWO WORDS but people still don’t get that one either. Pet peeves. I am going to start spelling Echopark as one word and just make up a new pronunciation and see if it sticks.

  6. I try to let Jose Feliciano be my guide and think of his seasonal favorite “Feliz Navidad” …usually right after I’ve just said FEE-liz, dammit.

  7. Incidentally, the idiom in Spanish is to use Los with an unmodified last name where in English we would write The with a pluralized last name, so it’s “The Smiths” in English, but “Los Smith” in Spanish.

  8. My understanding is the last name “Feliz” is different than the word “feliz” as in “feliz navidad”. The last name is pronounced “FEH lis” and the word that means “happy” is “feh LIS”. In other words, there should be an accent over the e in the last name and in Los Feliz.

  9. Well it all depends on when your family came to Los Feliz.

    1960-1995 you say Los FeeLIS

    post 1995 you probably say Los Felez

    but you know way back along time ago it was also probably Los Felez.

    I can pretty much spot LA natives and LA non-natives. LA natives who don’t have spanish speaking grandparents pronounce Spanish names incorrectly (you know Peedro, people from Pedro are pretty enthusiasitc about their hood even though they say it “wrong,” they will actually beat you if you don’t think it’s great too, they probably would beat me for saying they pronouce San Pedro wrong) and non-LA natives regardless of ethnic origin make a real effort to use the Spanish pronounciation, which kind of makes those people stand out as not being from the area, which is kind of ironic.

    If that is what ironic means. I’m not sure what ironic means anymore.


  10. LA Mapnerd wrote:

    So why do the San Pedrinos pronounce it “PEE-droh”, anyway?

    I mean, Spanish would be “PEH-droh”, right? And the usual Anglo mangling would be “PAY-droh”, just like the Bus Voice says.

    So where did “PEE-droh” come from, I wonder?

    I’m not sure that it came from anywhere in particular; I think it just happens, for some reason, to be the Anglicization that caught on.

    Of the two possible Anglicizations “PEE-droh” is the more honest, in that a person saying it is not making any pretense whatsoever toward attempting a “correct” Spanish pronunciation. “PAY-droh,” on the other hand, is pretentious but still wrong. This is why we Pedrovians bristle when people try to tell us that we’re pronouncing the name of our town incorrectly: because 99.999% of the time, the person doing the “correcting” is from the PAY-droh school.

    The only way to pronounce “Pedro” properly in Spanish is not only to use the short vowel sound (PEH-droh), but to soften the d and roll the r, otherwise it just sounds silly. Of course, unless one speaks Spanish or is good at faking the accent, it’s kind of difficult to do. Hence the Anglicization.

    I hope this goes at least part of the way toward explaining why we say it the way we do down here. And yes, if you get it wrong, we will beat you. With sarcasm and hyperbole!

  11. In the post above, paragraphs two and three should have been italicized, as they consist of quoted text from LA Mapnerd. Please pretend that they are italicized, otherwise it looks like I’m talking to myself.


  12. Browne: New Orleans has the same kind of “ironic mispronounciation by the locals” phenomena in that city as well. For example, the Crescent City street named “Carondelet” is not, as one might assume, pronounced with a Francophone silent-“T”

  13. I had to laugh:”I dunno, but I think every LA newbie should get a cake the first time they pronounce Cahuenga correctly.”

    I give the cookie to those trying Port Hueneme for the first time.

  14. Happens elsewhere as well. The student ghetto next to UCSB, Isla Vista, is pronounced by the locals as “EYE-la Vista”. Somewhat more understandable than San Pedro, though.

  15. The way I learned it, Spanish is nice in that letters are basically always pronounced the same way, no matter what word they are in, or what context (Unlike English, i.e.- through and tough). Whether it’s Jose Vicente Feliz, Feliz Navidad, or Los Feliz, it’s pronounced Feh-lease.

  16. “And, well you’re at it, stop pronouncing ‘Los’ as ‘Loss,'” HBC.

    Yeah the in regards to the Loss part. I have no idea where we all got the Loss from. I didn’t even realize I was saying that wrong.

    “I’m from Loss FeeLiz. I’m from the eastside. I can’t really understand Santa Monica,” eastsider with two thousand dollars worth of ink on forearms, a classic car with no dents and the delusional that they are hardcore, though this person also lives south of Franklin and is not actually in Loss Feeliz or the eastside and they aren’t even that hardcore, but all of it is a very fun costume.

    “The Onyx rocked man. I never go to Figaro, ever. I hate what they’ve done to my neighborhood…”

    Browne C’O poseur 1996

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