Junipero, with a Juan: A pronunciation battle and a guide for locals

It’s generally pretty cordial in the Post’s suite of offices high above Ocean Boulevard in Downtown. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more companionable group of people.

Things turned ugly on Wednesday, however, when the newsroom broke into a full-scale brawl, because our Hi-lo editor Steve Lowery tried to bully a member of his staff into mispronouncing the name of Junipero Avenue.

At first it was laughable, because Lowery, of faraway Hermosa Beach, was attempting to school arts writer Asia Morris, of Long Beach, on the “correct” way for a Long Beacher to say “Junipero.” “It’s ‘JOON-eh-pero’,” gargled Lowery, sounding like he was choking on a small trout.

No, countered Asia, correctly, “Long Beachers say ‘Juan-eh-PER-oh.”

“SHUT UP!” screeched Lowery, launching himself out of his chair, with all the speed you’d associate with a man currently entitled to all the benefits and courtesies afforded him by his AARP membership.

And it was on; every member of the Post’s staff shouting out their preferred pronunciations.

In a misguided attempt to settle the issue, one of our social-engagement gurus, Valerie Osier, sent out polls on Twitter and Instagram on the subject of whether the street’s name should be uttered as:

  1. JOON-eh-pero
  2. who-NEE-pero
  3. Juan-eh-pero

And it would have been a nice way to settle the matter if we were to agree that the matter should be settled by a democratic process, especially a flawed one, which this clearly was, as evidenced by its outcome.

With nearly 900 votes cast on Twitter, Choice No. 1 received 49% of the vote. No. 2, also incorrect, had about 30% and the most common way, “Juan-eh-pero,” got 21%.

Steve and his cartel of wrong people prematurely rejoiced in their perceived victory.

Cackle away, my friends. You can do a lot of funny things with numbers. Funny and crooked.

Look, I know pretty much everyone in Long Beach and every one of them say it with a “Juan” in front of it, to which pedants and purists protest, “No, because there’s no A in Junipero.” And there’s no I in team; nobody’s claiming there’s a literal A in the word, but there’s an “understood” A in it; an invisible A, if you will (and you will).

Let’s go to some of the right-mined LOCALS on Twitter.

PuxnDux: “LB Native. How? Juan a pero. Why? That’s worth some deep research.”

Charlee “Democrat Savage”: “I grew up in Long Beach and I’m still here. My family has always pronounced it “Juan-IP-per-ow.”

Les: “I lived on Juan-eh-pero for 15 years.”

Stargazer: “I always say Juan-eh-pero. Lived in Long Beach my whole life and my family all pronounce it this way.”

Grobaty: “It’s Juan-eh-pero.”

OK, enough. These people are starting to pile it on too much.

I’m just happy now that we can all agree and get back to work.

And peace once again reigns in the newsroom.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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