As the tragedy unfolds, the entire world is getting a tutorial on how to pronounce New Orleans. It's N'awlans.
My question is this: Do we all have to pronounce everything the way the locals say it? Should we all learn how to say New Yawk, Phuladelphia, Balmor?
Until now, pronouncing N'awlans correctly was a signal to others that the speaker had more than a passing acquaintance with the Big Easy. But I guess that's the point: We're all learning about the city now, from the engineering of the levees and the low-lying parishes to the horrific suffering of its people and, yes, the way to pronounce the place.
The old song not only botches the pronunciation, but rhymes it in a verse that's so wrong at this stage it's poignant:
It's the garden of Eden, you know what I mean...
Way down yonder in New Orleans.