Strolling Down the [AV]

By Maeve Maddox

Just when I thought I’d developed a thicker skin regarding linguistic innovation!

I was listening to classical music on my local NPR station the other morning when the DJ launched into some public service announcements.

The first time she said [av] for avenue I wasn’t sure I’d heard correctly, but then she mentioned another address that included the word avenue. Again she said [av]. And then, leaving no doubt whatever, she pronounced a third address as “Central [av].”

Say it isn’t so!

I need the help of you readers on this one. Googling won’t help me figure out if this is a trend or merely a local aberration. Please let me know if you have heard anyone pronounce the abbreviated form of Avenue as anything other than [ăv’ə-nū’] or [ăv’ə-nyū’]

For the record, avenue, abbreviated Ave. or Av., came into the language as a military term meaning “a way of approach.” Now it refers to a wide street lined with trees or, in some cases, a street having a planted median.

In British usage an avenue is the roadway leading from the gate to the front of a country house, like the lovely tree-shaded approach to Manderly in the movie Rebecca.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too astonished. The word versus, abbreviated vs. or v. is now universally pronounced [vee].

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33 Responses to “Strolling Down the [AV]”

  • Maeve

    Shirley,
    I use brackets to indicate a pronunciation.

  • Shirley, in Berkeley

    We say, “College” or “College Ave,” to mean College Avenue, and “San Pablo” or “San Pablo Ave,” to mean San Pablo Avenue, but in Berkeley, when someone says, “Let’s have lunch on the Ave,” you know they mean Telegraph Avenue.

    By the way, when did brackets become an acceptable replacement for quotation marks (e.g., [Av])? Did I miss something?

  • Jennifer

    I live in Texas and [Av] is totally used in everyday language. A lot of main streets or avenues in this case are shortened. I went to school at Penn State University and the main streets were College [Av] and Beaver [Av]…Who wants to say College Avenue.

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