Way down yonder in ... N'awlans.

If we must pronounce New Orleans as N'awlans, should everyone outside the Big Apple learn how to say New Yawk?

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.
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