10 San Francisco Words You’re Probably Mispronouncing
When you live in a city as culturally rich as San Francisco, it’s a given that you’ll come across some unusual words, including a handful of place names that might as well be tongue twisters to an English speaker. Here’s what everyone has pronounced wrong at least once in their tenure here—all wrapped up in a handy cheat sheet that you can bestow upon SF newbies.
The wrong way: Go
The right way: Goff
Nope, it’s not like Van Gogh. It’s kind of like rough but with a G. And get this: It’s named after a milkman (Charles H. Gough) who was tasked with laying out the streets in the city’s Western Addition neighborhood.
The wrong way: Are-goo-el-oh
The right way: Are-gway-oh (although the Spanglish are-gwell-oh is more common)
This boulevard is named after California pioneer José Darío Argüello. Use the same pronunciation guide for Cabrillo and Vallejo. It’s Spanish 101, people.
The wrong way: Duh-bow-chee
The right way: Dew-bahs
Fun fact: The street used to be called Ridley before 1900. Now, both the street and park are named after Victor Donglain Duboce, a member of the Board of Supervisors and a colonel in the Spanish-American War.
The wrong way: Keer-nee
The right way: Ker-nee
A subtle but important difference. The street is generally assumed to be named after the first military governor of California under U.S. rule.
The wrong way: No
The right way: No-ee
Just like Zoe or Chloe. The street and neighborhood are named after the last Mexican mayor of the city (then called Yerba Buena instead of San Francisco).
The wrong way: See-zer Sha-vez
The right way: Say-sar Cha-vez
The famous labor leader and civil-rights activist even gets his own state holiday in California, Colorado and Texas.
The wrong way: Vuh-len-cha
The right way: Vuh-len-see-ah
Don’t listen to what Siri or MUNI tell you. The popular stretch of shops and restaurants is pronounced just like the orange.
The wrong way: San Raf-eye-el
The right way: San Ra-fell
Just accept it next time you head to this town across the Golden Gate.
The wrong way: Press-it-ah
The right way: Press-eat-ah
Actually, we think either one goes for this area known for its murals, plus it’s a kid- and dog-friendly park.
The wrong way: June-i-pear-oh Sarah
The right way: You-ni-pear-oh or Hoo-ni-pear-o Serra
Spanish, Spanglish, American pronunciations... Honestly, anything goes for the mission-founding friar. Bonus points if you roll your R’s.