Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 01-18-2008, 11:52 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Viburnum, MO
Posts: 9,140
How to Pronounce Louis Armstrong's Name

I've always heard it as "Louie." Then I read about an article back in his day that incorrectly identified him as "Lewis."

How did his contemporaries address him, and did he have a preference?
#2
Old 01-18-2008, 11:57 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 40,654
When he sings "Hello, Dolly," he says "Lewis." (Here is a clip. Scroll down.)

However, that may be how the song required him to say it.
__________________
"East is East and West is West and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.
#3
Old 01-18-2008, 12:18 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 12,513
For that matter, when it comes to almost anyone named Louis, no one seems sure when to pronounce the -s, e.g. how come Louis Freeh is always Louie? (Edit: I mean how come it's always spelled "Louis" and pronounced "Louie"?) There must be some linguistic term for this influence across languages... I think Americans are aware on some vague level that the French pronunciation of Louis is [lwi:] so Louis is almost inadvertently turned into Louie without giving it much thought. This is one of those matters that doesn't seem like a puzzle until you stop to think about it.

Likewise, I wonder about dropping the -n- from Christine Todd Whitman, it seems like they always call her "Christie" but without spelling it that way. She has a silent -n- like Louis has a silent -s.

Last edited by Johanna; 01-18-2008 at 12:22 PM.
#4
Old 01-18-2008, 01:02 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 32,870
My completely uninformed WAG is that "Lewis" was the original English spelling. "Louis" became popular originally as a novelty Frenchified spelling, but didn't necessarily indicate use of a Frenchified pronunciation. Then, some Louises wanted the Frenchified Louie pronunciation as well as the spelling Frenchified. Now, there's no way of knowing whether Louis sounds like Lewis or Louie.
#5
Old 01-18-2008, 01:14 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA
Posts: 11,482
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck
When he sings "Hello, Dolly," he says "Lewis." (Here is a clip. Scroll down.)

However, that may be how the song required him to say it.
The original tune from the show did not have that line in it; Armstrong changed it. So one would assume that if he wrote the line, that is how he pronounced his own name. (Dolly was singing to a group of waiters.)
#6
Old 01-18-2008, 01:18 PM
BANNED
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 58,797
In the Ken Burns Jazz series on PBS, thy made a point of saying the correct pronuciation was "Lewis" and that's how they pronounced it in all their narations.
#7
Old 01-18-2008, 01:21 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 26,944
He was from New Orleans, Louisiana (note the pronunciation of the state) during a time when his parents would have had an even more strong French influence than today. All of the monuments to him throughout the city including the airport are most definitely pronounced "Louie" and there are plenty of people still alive that knew him. He might have used both names. I do something like that myself and it isn't rare at all.
#8
Old 01-18-2008, 01:57 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 40,654
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas
The original tune from the show did not have that line in it; Armstrong changed it. So one would assume that if he wrote the line, that is how he pronounced his own name. (Dolly was singing to a group of waiters.)
I know, but the waiters sing, too, and IIRC, the waiter refers to himself as "Lewis." However, that was after Armstrong's hit, so it may have been a change made to match Armstrong's pronunciation.

The song is a very strong bit of evidence in favor of "Lewis," but only about 90% conclusive.
#9
Old 01-18-2008, 02:04 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,746
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna
For that matter, when it comes to almost anyone named Louis, no one seems sure when to pronounce the -s, e.g. how come Louis Freeh is always Louie? (Edit: I mean how come it's always spelled "Louis" and pronounced "Louie"?) There must be some linguistic term for this influence across languages... I think Americans are aware on some vague level that the French pronunciation of Louis is [lwi:] so Louis is almost inadvertently turned into Louie without giving it much thought. This is one of those matters that doesn't seem like a puzzle until you stop to think about it.

Likewise, I wonder about dropping the -n- from Christine Todd Whitman, it seems like they always call her "Christie" but without spelling it that way. She has a silent -n- like Louis has a silent -s.
I've always thought that Louie was a nickname for Louis, and that similarly, Christine Todd Whitman might go by Christie sometimes. When nicknames are casual, people might use them verbally but use the full name in writing. For example, a former boss of mine preferred to use her full name, Judith, when it was in writing, but was almost exclusively called Judy.

As someone who grew up in St. Louis, I always pronounce the 's' on the end - that's just how you say the word! ('Meet Me in St. Louie" aside.)
#10
Old 01-19-2008, 01:39 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New Orleans, La.
Posts: 1,666
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetsQ
As someone who grew up in St. Louis, I always pronounce the 's' on the end - that's just how you say the word! ('Meet Me in St. Louie" aside.)
How about Louisville, Kentucky? The S is always silent, right?

According to my aunt, 100 years ago, the only pronunciation for Louis was 'Louie'. Louis was almost exclusively French or French influenced, so it was pronounced the French way. The variation of pronouncing the S came about later. (In the U.S., this may be specific to the south or even more specifically, Louisiana)

Louis Armstrong was born over 100 years ago (1901) so it was probably originally pronounced Louie. When he moved to New York, where there was very little French influence, he probably resigned to Louis with the S pronounced because the people there read and pronounced it like that.

My only cite for this is my aunt who is very old and was around when the S was never pronounced.
#11
Old 01-19-2008, 01:50 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 26,944
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck
The song is a very strong bit of evidence in favor of "Lewis," but only about 90% conclusive.
That is more than a bold and ignorant statement based on where he was from based on the fact that there is a major city, New Orleans, with a lots of monuments including a major airport that use the pronunciation "Louie". New Orleans is French influenced but they don't automatically translate names to the French pronunciation unless it is warranted. He probably used both pronunciations at different times and it is likely that his birth name was pronounced "Louie" and he may have modified it at times for whatever reason. Learn some Louisiana history please before you crap out your own made up statistics like "only about 90% conclusive". This is the SDMB, not a personal blog.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 01-19-2008 at 01:53 PM.
#12
Old 01-19-2008, 02:05 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 26,944
I found this little quip which supports the use of both names which again isn't uncommon. I still say that his birth name was probably pronounced "Louie" based on New Orleans history at the time and he modified it at will based on family and professional circumstances. The "Lewis" pronunciation doesn't show up until well after he moved out of New Orleans.

"Is Louis's name pronounced "Lewis" or "Louie"?

Judging from home recorded tapes now in the Archives, Louis pronounced his own name as "Lewis." On his 1964 record "Hello, Dolly," he sings, "This is Lewis, Dolly" but in 1933 he made a record called "Laughin' Louie." Many broadcast announcers, fans, and acquaintances called him "Louie" and the Armstrong Archives has a 1983 videotape of Lucille Armstrong in which she calls her late husband "Louie." Musicians and close friends usually called him "Pops."

http://louisarmstronghouse.org/s...wer=1137535794

Last edited by Shagnasty; 01-19-2008 at 02:06 PM.
#13
Old 01-19-2008, 02:09 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 40,654
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
That is more than a bold and ignorant statement based on where he was from based on the fact that there is a major city, New Orleans, with a lots of monuments including a major airport that use the pronunciation "Louie". New Orleans is French influenced but they don't automatically translate names to the French pronunciation unless it is warranted. He probably used both pronunciations at different times and it is likely that his birth name was pronounced "Louie" and he may have modified it at times for whatever reason. Learn some Louisiana history please before you crap out your own made up statistics like "only about 90% conclusive". This is the SDMB, not a personal blog.
Don't be a jerk. I made no suggestion that the pronunciation of his name was due to any factors in his backgroud or how it was prounounced in New Orleans. My point was

1. Louis Armstrong pronounced his name "Lewis" when he sung "Hello Dolly."
2. That is evidence that he may have pronounced his name that normally.
3. There may be counterevidence, since he may have chosen to prounounce the name in the song a different way. For instance, in her version of "Leader of the Pack," someone calls Bette Midler "Betty," but that was how the song was sung, not how she pronounced her name."

Thus the evidence was good he prounounced his own name "Lewis," because he chose to pronouce it that way in the song, but it wasn't 100% conclusive because of point 3. I chose 90% as an arbitrary number in case someone could come up with a counterexample

This is what I get for not just stating the fact and showing the evidence. Evidently a thoughtful discussion based on a recording of Louis saying his own name is not allowed.

Last edited by RealityChuck; 01-19-2008 at 02:12 PM.
#14
Old 01-19-2008, 02:17 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 40,654
And now I see you are making exactly the same point I was making in my posts, yet catigated me for.
#15
Old 01-19-2008, 02:36 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 26,944
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck
And now I see you are making exactly the same point I was making in my posts, yet catigated me for.
I am truly sorry in general. It was just this little blurb I was reacting to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck
The song is a very strong bit of evidence in favor of "Lewis," but only about 90% conclusive.
There can't be any 90% conclusive evidence because he, his family, friends and fans used different versions of his name at different times. There was his birth name and then his professional name(s) through many decades. There is no conclusion to be based on that and that is very common. All we can say is that most people choose "Louie" when honoring him these days yet we have firm evidence that he chose Lewis for times outside of New Orleans. His wife apparently knew him as "Louie" however.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 01-19-2008 at 02:37 PM.
#16
Old 01-19-2008, 03:25 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Howdy
Posts: 18,516
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
He was from New Orleans, Louisiana (note the pronunciation of the state)
The pronunciation of the name of the state has no relevance in French. The ending 's' isn't pronounced because it's an ending 's'; putting it in the middle of the word is entirely different.
#17
Old 01-19-2008, 03:37 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 4,832
One of the stadiums where the US Open tennis is played is named Louis Armstrong Stadium after him. Commentators have made a point of saying that it should be pronounced "Lewis".
#18
Old 01-19-2008, 03:39 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 26,944
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat
The pronunciation of the name of the state has no relevance in French. The ending 's' isn't pronounced because it's an ending 's'; putting it in the middle of the word is entirely different.
Oh, now I have to throw down the boxing gloves and step up because I am from Louisiana and do...something. I can't speak a word of French but everyone has been impeccably nice to me every time I go to France contrary to stereotypes. My wife however is fluent in both France-French and Louisiana French. My daughter is in French immersion school as well. My wife is away but my daughter is right here. I have no idea of what you are saying is right but you are about to have a 5 year old to contend with if I can transcribe a decent counter-argument from her.

She is taking a bath so you are off the hook.....for now.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 01-19-2008 at 03:40 PM.
#19
Old 01-19-2008, 06:42 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 39,331
I remember back when Armstrong was alive, and was often a guest on tv talk shows and variety shows. He was always introduced as Louie Armstrong. The only time I ever heard the "s" pronounced was in the "Hello Dolly" song. It seemed like he was taking on a slightly more formal identity for the occasion.
#20
Old 01-19-2008, 06:43 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 1,701
This is a rather bizarre digression. If one was to take the pronunciation of his name from the state, then he'd either be Loo-eez or Looz.
#21
Old 01-19-2008, 07:39 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New Orleans, La.
Posts: 1,666
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaerieD
This is a rather bizarre digression. If one was to take the pronunciation of his name from the state, then he'd either be Loo-eez or Looz.
There is no z sound in the original French pronunciation of Louisiana...only in the American pronunciation And there's definitely no Looz sound in it at all.

Louisiana was named for King Louis (pronounced Loo-ee) XIII and Queen Anne of France.

Last edited by jasonh300; 01-19-2008 at 07:40 PM.
#22
Old 01-19-2008, 10:08 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 32,870
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonh300
There is no z sound in the original French pronunciation of Louisiana...only in the American pronunciation And there's definitely no Looz sound in it at all.

Louisiana was named for King Louis (pronounced Loo-ee) XIII and Queen Anne of France.
If you are suggesting that the French pronunciation is like [lui'iana] (loo-ee-ee-a-na), then I believe that's not correct. The s is pronounced in French.
#23
Old 01-20-2008, 12:57 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Posts: 3,102
Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
If you are suggesting that the French pronunciation is like [lui'iana] (loo-ee-ee-a-na), then I believe that's not correct. The s is pronounced in French.
Indeed. "Louisiane" = "lweezeean" (sort of, the i's are not really like 'ee' in English, but shorter).
#24
Old 01-20-2008, 07:15 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: sticksville, JP
Posts: 2,833
Indeed-- a terminal s in French coming before a word starting with a vowel is pronounced like a z. Les filles ont ici. Lay feez awnt eecee. An s in the middle of the word before a vowel does the same thing, at least for the words I could think of: Parisian = pareezeeayan.
#25
Old 01-20-2008, 08:53 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Viburnum, MO
Posts: 9,140
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellRungBookShut-CandleSnuffed
Les filles ont ici.

The girls on ice? (My French isn't great)

I note that, whenever the DJ on XM Jazz refers to him, it's always pronounced "Lewis."

Here's my theory that I've developed after reading this thread: In New Orleans (where if you throw a brick you're 99% likely to hit something or someone with a French name) and amongst New Orleans musicians, he was "Louie." Outside of New Orleans (the greater part of his career was spent in Chicago & New York, from what I've read), he was "Lewis." In his personal life, he was "Satchmo," "Dippermouth," or "Pops."
#26
Old 01-20-2008, 11:25 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Caseyville, IL
Posts: 6,604
I think it is pronounced "Satchmo".

Edit: Man Homie, I can't read, apparently!

Last edited by DrCube; 01-20-2008 at 11:28 AM.
#27
Old 01-20-2008, 05:23 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Posts: 3,102
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyHomie
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellRungBookShut-CandleSnuffed
Les filles ont ici.
The girls on ice? (My French isn't great)
"The girls have here", which of course isn't a complete sentence, "to have" ("avoir" in French) being transitive. Actually, I'm not sure I'd pronounce the liaison in this sentence: in my mouth it would probably sound rather like [lɛfij§tisi]. Now that I think about it, the reason is probably that the last sound in "filles", the [j], isn't really a vowel. For a better example, consider "les ÚlÚphants" ("the elephants"), pronounced [lɛzelefŃ].

Also, I've usually heard "Louis Armstrong" pronounced as "Lewis", or rather "Loo-iss". I guess HeyHomie's theory is probably correct though.
#28
Old 01-20-2008, 05:52 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Posts: 3,102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypnagogic Jerk
Actually, I'm not sure I'd pronounce the liaison in this sentence: in my mouth it would probably sound rather like [lɛfij§tisi]. Now that I think about it, the reason is probably that the last sound in "filles", the [j], isn't really a vowel.
On second thought, there is a liaison in this phrase, but it is the [j] sound of "filles" that liaises with the [§] of "ont" (and my transcription is basically correct). No [s] or [z] is pronounced. In French, a 's' between two vowels is pronounced as [z], even if these vowels are part of two different words, but the 's' here isn't actually between two vowels, and remains silent.
#29
Old 01-20-2008, 08:22 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: sticksville, JP
Posts: 2,833
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypnagogic Jerk
On second thought, there is a liaison in this phrase, but it is the [j] sound of "filles" that liaises with the [§] of "ont" (and my transcription is basically correct). No [s] or [z] is pronounced. In French, a 's' between two vowels is pronounced as [z], even if these vowels are part of two different words, but the 's' here isn't actually between two vowels, and remains silent.
Yes, this makes more sense. Sorry, I was tired when I posted that.
#30
Old 01-20-2008, 08:31 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: NY/NJ, USA
Posts: 5,070
Wikipedia gives evidence for both answers
#31
Old 01-21-2008, 04:22 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: England, Britain, UK
Posts: 18,480
Thanks, anyway. In the run-up to Christmas, Classic FM were advertising a Jazz FM album featuring "Lewis" Armstrong and it was annoying the hell out of me. Turns out they were probably pronouncing it right after all.
#32
Old 01-21-2008, 09:54 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 12,513
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypnagogic Jerk
I've usually heard "Louis Armstrong" pronounced as "Lewis", or rather "Loo-iss".
Not sure what distinction you're making here. Could you put it in IPA?
#33
Old 01-21-2008, 10:33 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
I had always assumed that formally it was pronounced Lewis. Sometimes it would be shortened to Lou. And then sometimes affectionately lengthened to Loo-ey.

Sorta like James, Jim and Jimmy.
#34
Old 01-21-2008, 10:41 AM
BANNED
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: England, Britain, UK
Posts: 18,480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna
Not sure what distinction you're making here. Could you put it in IPA?
Maybe Hypnagogic Jerk pronounces the "w" in "Lewis"?
#35
Old 01-21-2008, 12:04 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Posts: 3,102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malacandra
Maybe Hypnagogic Jerk pronounces the "w" in "Lewis"?
Sort of. I'm not very fluent in the use of the IPA, but to me, "Louis" (in English, not in French where it is simply [lwi]) is [lʊɪs] -- there might be a consonant in the middle; I haven't been able to find it on Wikipedia but I know it's not [w] -- while "Lewis" is [lťwɪs] -- the [ť] might not be exact but it's close enough.

As for "Louie", I pronounce it [lʊi], or something similar.

Last edited by Hypnagogic Jerk; 01-21-2008 at 12:07 PM.
Reply

┬ź Previous Thread | Next Thread ┬╗
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:18 AM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: sell fur coats zonker harris waterworld ending toilet water smells white vinegar ingredients nightclub bartenders matrix helicopter crash overcooked chicken midas brakes reviews mouse poison walmart pat boone naked non drowsy sudafed cat litter bugs is spam vegan cheap bananas gfci replacement cost hal lynch songs storm mamma or momma auto memory saver gin chaser difficult veins 1 arm pitcher wax face men xkcd 1663 dialing operator 200mg advil gunsmoke us haggens double headed nickel christian superheroes cat acne pop drano on toilet surreal books oz narrator how many times does your heartbeat in a year mold in basement apartment where does salami come from what animal wood box home depot do soldiers wear hearing protection removing silly putty from hair what is the energy source that drives plate tectonics a=b b=c a=c can i play baldur's gate 2 before 1 difference between yellow and white popcorn use it in good health yiddish why is japanese porn censored? black hair and brown eyes what time is mail picked up how long does it take for forwarded mail to arrive what is a moolie combat load for m4 using speaker wire for 12v power secret asian man song i see you standing there tv magic cards instructions home defense shotguns walmart wasps keep coming back to same spot why isn't austria part of germany darth vader breathing text causes of poor gas mileage sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar eats you firsthand or first-hand we cant have nice things how to sterilize needles microwave cook inside out does giving blood hurt