Proper English – Devon Avenue


This is Boria the Brave, curled up on my latest knitting project so he can give it his mojo.

This is otherwise known as, furring on it.

But I digress.

Today, Dear Reader, is the Day for D – and with it, our travels take us to the “International Corridor,” or for locals, Devon Avenue.

And here, we must pause a moment, because Chicago’s pronunciation of things is peculiarly idiosyncratic.

Devon, of course, is a famous place in the country of England – and I’m sure, when the founders of this great city were naming streets, they meant that Devon.  DEV-uhn.  Locals, however, have their own ideas and pronounce it, “Deh-VAHN.”  If you get in a cab and ask them to take you to DEV-uhn Avenue, they’ll stare at you blankly and wonder where you mean, because they can’t drive their cab over the Atlantic to England.  Not to mention that would be one helluva fare.

Another idiosyncrasy of Devon Avenue is that between about Oakley or Western and about Kedzie, one cannot drive at speed on Devon.  This is because the folks who emigrated here don’t drive by American rules football.  I once saw two cab drivers, one going eastbound, one westbound, stop dead in the middle of the street to have a conversation.  They weren’t at a red light.  They were in the middle of the block.  They blocked traffic, both of them, for two or three blocks either direction – but by golly, they were going to have their conversation!

On another occasion, my then-roommate and I got off the bus at Western Avenue and walked westbound on Devon to California, a distance of about a half mile.

We beat the bus.

But that’s not why I brought it up – the truly magical thing about Devon Avenue is that despite the city’s heavy-handed attempts to label neighborhoods, it really is the international corridor.  Here you can find Indian and Pakistani restaurants, Russian shops, Croatian coffee bars that look like an actual bar inside complete with black light, Arabic hookah lounges, and Orthodox Jewish delis, bakeries, and stores.  You can find imported food markets and buy things from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, India, Pakistan, all over the Middle East, and even a few scattered African countries are represented.  Wandering up and down Devon you will hear languages from many places and see styles of dress that will open your eyes to the many ways people can express themselves through clothing.  It’s chaotic, noisy, and absolutely engaging.  It may just be my favorite neighborhood in the city.

I’m not alone.  If you enjoy travel, even of the armchair variety, check it out:

A Guide to Devon Avenue

The Ultimate Guide to Indian Food on Devon Avenue

Little India/Devon Avenue

Choose Chicago

Tour Devon In an Afternoon

Thank you for joining me for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave me a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

My theme on my Knoontime Knitting craft blog is Letterforms In Nature and the Built Environment.  I’ll be exploring my daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The theme at Noon & Wilder is The A To Z of Chicago.  Since I live here in the city and we have our Chicagoland Shifters based here, I figured I’d share a window into the city, Noon & Wilder style.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

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Write on, and Happy Blogging!



2 Replies to “Proper English – Devon Avenue”

  1. I didn’t know that about Devon Avenue! I’ll have to add “Deh-VAHN” to my vocabulary. Sounds like all the crazy pronunciations (or one might say bastardizations) of Spanish names in Austin, Texas. They pronounce “Guadalupe” as “Gwad-A-Loop” and “Manchaca” as “Man-Chack,” while “Manor” is “May-ner” and “Burnet” is “Burn-it, durn it!” If you think Chicago pronunciations are crazy, just try getting anywhere in Austin! ;D

    1. I remember that from my visit to Dallas a few years ago. My grandparents actually lived in Austin but that was a long time ago, and before I really spoke much Spanish so I didn’t know they mispronounced things that much. Gwad-a-Loop makes me laugh! 🙂 Chicago has Goath-ee (Goethe), and the street on which I live is Moe-zart not Motz-art. I remember I came home from the airport once and the driver looked at me blankly when I gave him the name of my street. “Mozart. Like the composer?” He looked grumpy and muttered Moe-zart under his breath. Lesson learned.

      I wish I could remember the name of a restaurant in Austin. I have no idea if it’s even there any more, but it was out on a more remote road (suburby like), and the serving staff all dressed up as different superhero characters. They were known for their roast beef. That’s not still there, by any chance? If it is, it was a ton of fun to visit.

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