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I presume this must be an exception to "pronounce it like the locals", since what I hear is something like 'Norlin'. Or is this just the movies?

Is it a mistake to attempt to pronounce it like a local?

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8  
"Nawlins", and it's right by Miz'sippi. –  mmyers Sep 8 '10 at 14:36
    
@mmyers good to see your comment is rated more highly than the answers below; maybe should have posted it as an answer –  mfg Sep 8 '10 at 17:01
    
@mfg: I hate to post an answer that's merely based on hearsay; I've never been to New Orleans. –  mmyers Sep 8 '10 at 18:30
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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The “local” pronunciation does indeed often have some sounds which are elided, but you don’t have to imitate that part of the local way of saying it. The key is to stress the Or in Orleans and not the leans. The preferred local pronunciation is something like “new OR-linz” or “new OR-lee-uhnz” and the dispreferred pronunciation is something like “new or-LEENZ”.

All the dictionaries I looked in, though, list all the pronunciations I have given here without any usage notes.

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From an anthropological perspective, however, pronounce it like the locals when actually in New Orleans, or you may be frequently asked, "You aren't from around here, are you?". Of course, if you're speaking with a non-local accent, the pronunciation of the city is not what will first give you away to the locals. –  ssakl Sep 15 '10 at 18:56
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I would prefer to listen http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/new%20orleans .

IMHO you shouldn't pronounce it like 'norlin' just because you heard that in a movie.

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What about the lovely French pronunciation? It's definitely not how the locals pronounce it, but it does seem a lot more beautiful. :P

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If you want to go the whole hog, you have to say "Nouvelle-Orléans" –  Benjol Sep 29 '10 at 12:24
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