How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Angelenos/Angeleños speak out on who they are

In a brief post yesterday, I mentioned that I'll be moderating a panel next week at KPCC titled "Angelino, Angeleno, Angeleño: Who are we?"

It's going to be a discussion on the evolving identity of Los Angeles, based on a popular post on the KCET website a couple of months ago by author D.J. Waldie about the disappearance of the Spanish consonant ñ (pronounced “enye”) from "Angeleños," the original Spanish term for city residents.

I threw out a few questions yesterday: What is an Angeleno today? How does the culture we were raised in, and the part of the L.A. area we call home, shape how we define ourselves? In great polyglot Los Angeles of the 21st Century, do we still define ourselves geography, by area code, by ethnicity?

On KPCC's Facebook page, several readers shared their thoughts. A particular line from one of the readers below resonated: "Angelenos are all a little Mexican, a little Korean, a little Jewish no matter where they're actually from."

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The forgotten history of Angelenos' lost ñ

I linked earlier to a post on the KCET website by author D.J. Waldie on the disappearance of the Spanish consonant ñ, pronounced "enye," from the word that we in Los Angeles use to describe ourselves, and from our regional identity altogether.

But the post is so nice, I want to share more of it here, starting with what Waldie writes about the now commonly used term "Angeleno:"

There's another word, original and more correct. The word for us is Angeleño (with a tildé over the n). The sound of ñ is roughly approximated by the "ny" in canyon. In telling the Spanish alphabet, the letter ñ is pronounced "enye."

Even after the Americanization of Los Angeles (and until the early 1860s), nearly all residents of the city - Anglo and Latino both - spoke Spanish. Presumably (if it ever came up in conversation), they called themselves Angeleños, because that's the usual form of the noun.

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