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Tom West

I've always thought place names (and other local proper nouns) should be pronounced however the locals do it, "proper" pronounication be damned.
I once had to deal with Gwynedd Valley station near Philadelphia, and caused some confusion by pronoucning it the Welsh way ("gwe-neth") rather the local way ("gwee-ned").

Aaron Priven

I think it depends. There is a street in Alameda, California pronounced "Ver-sails", but spelled "Versailles". This is obnoxious.


Mont-pee-lee-ur, Vermont. This is also obnoxious.

I cannot for the life of me remember how L'Enfant is pronounced, despite having taken the metro there a whole lot. Anyone care to remind me?


I'd like a shot at an annunciator voice over. I do a very good impression of the Moviefone guy.

Joseph Singer

Or you could take the approach that the Brits do and that is to mangle the name however you please when you come across the name even if it has nothing to do with how the name should be pronounced. Then again Americans are champion with mangling names.

Alon Levy

There's an official (I think?) recording on the WaPo page this post links to.


No official recording Alon. Every driver must announce the station. What is pre-recorded are the messages about doors closing.


For those unfamiliar with how locals say the station name, it's almost French. I have no idea how to spell that phoenetically, much less in IPA.

I've heard that it used to be pronounced like "Elephant Plaza", but that's mostly behind us. Still, Pierre L'Enfant prefered to be called Peter anyway, so he probably wouldn't mind the Anglicization.

Dexter Wong

I don't know much about Washington DC station names, but I do know who makes announcements for the Honolulu city bus system. He is a professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii. It is important to have someone who knows the language and proper pronouciation so the announcements will be correct.

John W

How about being that comic voice on the train?

Though it might get a bit tiresome if you commute on this line regularly, it would be quite fun to hear an announcement such as "We will shortly be passing through West Ruislip where we will be racing the Underground trains. Do please feel free to cheer for our driver."


L'Enfant is pronounced this way: "En" is the -an- sound in eleph-an-t and "fant" is pronounced like "phan" in ele-phan-t.

Being french it would make sense for me but I believe it should be pronounced the way locals pronounce it, otherwise I am not sure if it would make sense for them pronounced the French way.


I typically hear something close to "luh FONT".


How common is the announcement about which side the doors open? I've heard them on Portland MAX. I thought they might be useful for Vancouver SkyTrain.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

Heryrickie. I think "doors open on the right" announcements are pretty routine now on double-sided vehicles, including BRT.


"L'Enfant is pronounced this way: "En" is the -an- sound in eleph-an-t and "fant" is pronounced like "phan" in ele-phan-t.

Honestly, you either speak bad French, or pronounce "elephant" strangely. I'm very familiar with both French (France) and Quebec French, and neither sound like what you wrote. "L'enfant" should sound like this: "lawn" with the "n" just barely pronounced, followed by "font" without the "t".

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