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Why The Tildes Left Los Angeleños

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Photo by hdaniel via Flickr

Photo by hdaniel via Flickr
Forget the debate between Angelino and Angeleno. KCET says they're both not quite right, and that Angeleño is the original and most correct moniker for SoCalisters.

"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,'" notes KCET. Until the 1860s Los Angeles residents, both Latino and Anglo, reportedly spoke Spanish and "presumably (if it ever came up in conversation), they called themselves Angeleños, because that's the usual form of the noun."

The first print-use of the word, according to The Oxford English Dictionary, appeared in 1888 as Angeleño, not Angelino or Angeleno. The American Heritage Dictionary also notes the Spanish word for residents of Latin America cities named Los Angeles, is Angeleño. As well, English-language newspapers in the Philippines regularly denote residents of Los Angeles on the island of Luzon as Angeleños.

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Who took our precious tildé, then? Ask the eastern and midwestern immigrants of the late 1870s who were not bilingual, suggests KCET. "Ñ was one more letter to maintain in the typesetter's case of fonts when type was set by hand. And the ñ was hard to distinguish from an English n, making typographical errors a problem."