N’AWLINS, La.—A New Orleans, or N’awlins, resident created a disturbance in the French Quarter last weekend after a tourist attempted to instruct the Crescent City native on how to correctly pronounce the name of his hometown.
Witnesses to the lengthy shouting match said the debacle began when a tourist believed to be from Utah flagged down a man in chef pants on Decatur Street and asked for advice on finding “the best crayfish poor-boy in N’awlins.”
The local man, already annoyed at the word “crayfish,” told the tourist he could find a pretty decent “CRAWfish PO-boy at various places in New ORLEANS.”
That’s when the discussion became tense, witnesses said.
While the tourist deferred to the local man’s judgment on how to pronounce “crawfish” and “po-boy,” the Utah man staunchly defended his pronunciation of the city’s name.
“You mean ‘N’AWLINS,’” he told the local, causing nearby witnesses to pause in anticipation of a colorful “discussion.”
The local man, visibly agitated, noted that he “has actually (expletive) lived in this (expletive) city his entire life.”
“But the locals pronounce it ‘N’awlins,” the visitor insisted, according to a live-Tweeted account of the debate (hasthtag AuthenticNawlins).
Other tourists leapt to the Utah man’s defense.
“I’ve watched all the seasons of ‘Treme,’” a woman from Iowa told reporters. “I even watched the fourth one. I know what a ‘second line’ is and I‘ve seen one of those Mardi Gras guys in the feathers outside my Airbnb rental. Locals say ‘N’awlins.’”
A passerby nodded in agreement, pointing at his T-shirt, which read “WE BE JAZZ’N IN N’AWLINS,” as evidence.
“See?” he said. “I’m here from Ohio, but this is a local T-shirt from a local store.”
Another woman, who had seen several episodes of “K-Ville,” agreed on the “N’Awlins” pronunciation, though she admitted that she had not attended any gumbo parties to confirm that pronunciation as accurate.
Several Midwestern viewers of the 2005 hit film “The Skeleton Key,” said they had seen a witch doctor working at a convenience store “deep in the heart of Terrebonne Parish,” and the voodoo man had pronounced the city’s name as “New Ohr-Leens.”
The shouting match, which drew a crowd, ended when the local man grew exhausted of arguing and agreed to start pronouncing the name as “N’Awlins,” at least in the Quarter, to give tourists a more authentic experience of the city.
“But I will never say ‘crayfish,’” he said.