Aug 24, 200912:00 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

Errol Laborde: Is the hotel's name a "rouxs"? Or a "rose"?

Once again the question has become relevant: What is the correct pronunciation of the hotel that was most recently known as the Fairmont but that has reverted to its original name?

That double "O" in the name Roosevelt is troubling. I recall many old-timer New Orleanians pronouncing the name like the plural of that stuff you use to make a gumbo, “rouxs,” rather than what you sniff in a garden.  Already, just in the few weeks that the hotel has been open, I have heard both pronunciations, “rouxzavelt” and “roesavelt.” (I will admit, I have often found myself using the former pronunciation though feeling uncertain about it.)

Just to resolve the question so that future generations are not “rouxing” when they should be “roseing” or visa-versa, I posed the question to the Sam Friedman, the Natchitoches developer who was the genius behind the restoration of the hotel and who was in town for the official ribbon-cutting. Friedman looked at me as though I had had too many Sazeracs. “I have always said ‘rosevelt,’” he pronounced as though there could be no other answer.

“Well, it is your hotel,” I said, showing a total deference for authority, “so I guess it is whatever you say.”

 He nodded in agreement.

Still something nagged at me. Maybe the question needed to be posed to an even higher authority.

On this question the absolute expert would be Teddy Roosevelt, the man after whom the hotel was named. I did some sleuthing, and, lo and behold, I found reference to the former president having once dealt with the issue himself.

There is even an article on the Web under his name called “Disputed Pronunciation.” It says in part,

There has been much debate about the correct pronunciation of Roosevelt's last name; however, in several letters Theodore Roosevelt himself specifies the correct pronunciation. In a letter to the Rev. William W. Moir dated October 10, 1898, he writes:“As for my name, it is pronounced as if it was spelled ‘Rosavelt.’ That is in three syllables. The first syllable as if it was ‘Rose.’”

So there you have it. No court in the land can overrule the combination of Friedman and T.R. on this issue. Keep the roux in the gumbo pot. In the garden of local place names, the Roosevelt blooms.

Let us know what you think. Any comments about this article? Write to errol@myneworleans.com. All responses are subject to being published, as edited, in this newsletter. Please include your name and location. 

 


Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival - Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via e- mail at gdkrewe@aol.com or (504) 895-2266.

 



WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. ON WYES-TV, CHANNEL 12.   
 

NOW ON WIST RADIO-690 AM, THE ERROL LABORDE SHOW, FRIDAYS, 6 P.M; SATURDAYS, 8 A.M. AND 2 P.M.; AND SUNDAYS, 8 A.M. AND 5 P.M. THE PROGRAM IS ALSO STREAMED ON THE WIST WEB SITE.

 

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The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

about

Errol LabordeErrol Laborde holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Orleans and is the editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing. In that capacity he serves as editor/associate publisher of New Orleans Magazine and editor/publisher of Louisiana Life magazine.

Errol is also a producer and a regular panelist on Informed Sources, a weekly news discussion program broadcast on public television station WYES-TV, Channel 12. Errol is a three-time winner of the Alex Waller Award, the highest award given in print journalism by the Press Club of New Orleans. He also received the National and City Regional Magazine Association Award for Best Column for his New Orleans Magazine column, beating out 76 city magazines across the country. In 2013, Errol received the award for the "Best News Affiliated Blog," awarded by the Press Club of New Orleans.

Errol’s most recent books are Krewe: The Early Carnival from Comus to Zulu and Marched the Day God: A History of the Rex Organization. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Peggy, to anywhere they can get away to, but some of his favorite spots are the Caribbean and historic locations around Louisiana. You can reach Errol at (504) 830-7235 or errol@myneworleans.com.

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