|Slang City Mail|
|December 7, 2007|
Slang of the Week: Loisaida (noun)
Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. This place name was revised by Nuyoricans—Puerto Ricans living in New York. The new pronunciation of the word led to the new spelling (and the loss of its article), and now Loisaida is officially recognized to the degree that Avenue C was given a "Loisaida Avenue" sign by the city.
In this case, a Latino accent changed the spelling of English words, but just as often, it's the other way around. The British stole cucaracha (among other words) from Spanish, pronounced it with an English accent and changed the spelling to “cockroach.”
If you’re wondering about the Spanish word in the quote, a guayabera is a men’s shirt (usually short-sleeved) with two or four pockets in the front and vertical pleats or decorations, such as embroidery. While their place of origin is uncertain, Mexico or Cuba seem most likely. I predict that if that fashion’s popularity in the US continues to increase, its pronunciation will also change, as “gwai-yuh-beh-ruh” does not roll easily off the English-speaking tongue--perhaps in ten or fifteen years, we'll be calling them “guy-bears.”