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July 14, 2007

In California, name places often reflect the historical ties to the early Spanish missionaries and the influence of the Spanish language. Even today, there are many connections between this state and the countries to our south – so Spanish is a very popular second language for students here, even if there is no ethnic connection to Spanish speaking countries. It’s a practical language to know.

So for many of us, pronouncing Los Gatos isn’t hard. Yesterday I was giving an order over the phone to someone, and once we got past my baffeling street name (a long Italian name), the poor clerk struggled over my town name. Perhaps a word on how to say it would be helpful.

“Los Gatos” means “the cats” in Spanish. An earlier post here described the origin of the name. The correct pronunciation, the Spanish version, is “lohs GAH tos”. However, despite years of Spanish classes, the predominent way it’s spoken is a badly botched “las gaddis”. Either one will work. (San Jose fares no better and has the same issue: real pronunciation is something like “sahn HO zay”, but locals call it “sahn NO-ZZAY”)

If you can remember that the name means The Cats (and don’t think about gates) you will probably come close enough!