Valensee-a or Valencha?


I always employ the former when pronouncing ‘Valencia Street,’ and as far as I can recall most other people do as well. So hopefully you can understand how taken aback I was upon hearing the auto bus stop announcement aboard Muni instead use the latter.  Now I’m all out of sorts over the matter.

If you think I’m foolish for even thinking about trusting Muni’s onboard speaker system, I point towards exhibit A:  its flawless rendition of Gough.   Surely it can’t be right in this case though?

79 Responses to “Valensee-a or Valencha?”

  1. Muni also says “Dee Veez adero,” and abbreviates it as “Diviz,” so who knows

  2. jennie says:

    Recordings were done by a lady in Texas. Guess no one in SF was available?

  3. Sam says:

    That’s how old school mission residents pronounce it.

    My wife’s grandfather (pushing 100) is from the old school Scandinavian community in the mission, and he has what they call “the mission accent”. It’s a touch like the brooklyn accent, and yeah, they say “Valencha”.

  4. CKChew says:


  5. MrEricSir says:

    Is there supposed to be a picture in this post, or just a big empty space?

  6. SCUM says:

    Geary or Gary?

  7. tc says:

    There is only one way to pronounce it, en castellano: “ba-len-thia”

    Any other way = transplant or tourist

  8. Stu says:

    To me, that is how it would sound with a mouth-full of burrito. And I am neither.

  9. Pedro Navaja says:

    Anyone who can’t/refuses to correctly pronounce Valencia, Vallejo, Alameda, San José, Cabrillo, Marín, San Rafael, Manteca, Los Baños, Madera, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Tiburón, etc., is either a Hee-Haw or willfully ignorant.

  10. ese loco says:

    val ehn ci a.

    wtf is castellano go back to spain with that shit. this is mexifornia holmes

  11. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

    The voice on some, but not all, busses also pronounces Noe as “No”

    • 6 generations in sf says:

      in my Mission no one ever did call anyone bitch. there’s other places you can go if you have homo-masochistic ambitions.

  12. Get tourists to pronounce “Gough” if they’ve never been here before. At least ten minutes of fun right there.

  13. superlative judgement says:

    I’m ok with EE-dhər (EYE-dhər?)

  14. breausephus says:

    There are more people in the Mission who speak Spanish or know people who speak Spanish now than there were before. The old way of pronouncing it is from back in the day when folks were ignorant about Spanish pronunciation. Although I won’t claim that this pattern holds across all Spanish place names in California. Vallejo still has a hard L for many, Los Baños is pronounced with a regular N, Los Angeles is pronounced with a soft G instead of an H…

  15. Glenparker says:

    I grew up in the late 60′s-70′s and took the 26 Valencha to school every day. I can always tell a non-local by the way they pronounce the name of that street.

  16. The Problem with Larry says:


  17. Uncle Rogere says:

    When I was growing up, it was always Valencha.

  18. SCUM says:

    Valencia is now Hipster Highway.

  19. Leather and says:

    Slightly off topic, but I’ve been living on Dore Street for over a year now, and no one can give me a consensus pronunciation. I’ve been saying “Dor-ee” like the rest of the homos and leather enthusiasts, but “Door” seems just as prevalent, especially among older residents. I had a cab driver haughtily tell me once that people from the City say “Door.” Any help?

  20. 6 generations in sf says:

    in spain they pronounce is bah-len-thee-ya. but this ain’t spain. we don’t say sahn-fron-see-sko, which wouldn’t sound right in regular conversation in any language, anyway.

    so, the SF native in me says the ‘right way’ is valensha (because it HAS in fact been pronounced that way for a long time, and by angloes and latins and everyone else)

    and yet there is a certain sensuality to the sibilant-S pronuniation…and sort of a hipness factor…so you can’t say it’s wrong to say it that way.

    so i say it both ways, depending on what i want to say about *myself* when it comes down to it.

    most often i try to just honor as many of us as i can by saying valenchia.

    it’s tough to be an american. (as if)

  21. one says:

    Valencha and don’t let anyone tell you different.

    • Pedro Navaja says:

      The waiter’s ears must bleed when you order cabernet sauvignon; provided you visit restaurants without a drive-thru.

  22. tacotron says:

    My grandmother would rise from the dead and smack me if I pronounced Valencia like that creepy robot lady.
    “Please hold on…”

  23. Leef Smith says:

    I grew up here pronouncing it “Valencha,” but started saying “Valenseeia” just so the latest generation of transplants could understand me.

    Another old-school San Francisco pronunciation is Ju-niper Serra Blvd.

  24. guero says:

    Wow I haven’t checked out MissionMission in a long, long time and I think this conversation was going on when I left. Now I show up and here it is–again! The Muni voice lady often has it wrong, but she is right this time. I use Valencha with family or locals but use Valensscia with hipsters or other new arrivals. It’s not a gringo thing! It’s an Italian thing. Valencia Street was an Italian hub before they migrated to “South City,” It was loaded with Italian stores and businesses. Italians pronounce the “c” as “ch” like “Ciao” or “Cucina.” That’s how it came about. To me it just distinguishes whether some is local or not, but there’s nothing wrong with either.

    • Yes, the thread that refuses to die.

      Well, fair point but, to make things perfectly clear, it should be pointed out that Valencia Street was named after a Spanish rancher (or his family), so what you call “an Italian thing” is really an Italian mispronunciation of a Spanish word. I couldn’t find it in an Italian dictionary, and if you try having the Google language lady say it for you, she will happily use the “see-a” sound for both the Spanish and Italian pronunciations (although the Spanish one gets a little “b”-sound on the “V”.)

      So, for those of us without several generations of relatives in The Mission (and, frankly, I can’t see any special cachet — don’t pronounce the “t” — in having them) it is “a Spanish thing”. Or an education thing, if you will.

  25. SCUM says:

    Val-en-see=yah later.

  26. Steve says:

    The Muni voice also mispronounces Pacheco as Pa-CHEE-ko instead of Pa-CHAY-ko. The pronunciation “Valencha” makes me shudder.

  27. kif says:

    Any idea on the pronunciation of Junipero Serra Blvd?

  28. Brandon Cruz says:

    If you really want to rock it proper, say:

    u-NIP-ero Sarah.

  29. late for supper says:

    Don’t call me Sarah.