Episode 59: Los Angeles, CA

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 59: Los Angeles, CA

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Los Angeles, CA, is often called LA. It is a very large city on the coast of southern California. It is made up of many smaller towns that have become part of it. Some people think that Los Angeles and Hollywood are the same place. That is only partly true. Hollywood was a smaller town that was added to LA in 1910. Naturally, many people and companies who are part of the film industry live in LA. There is a stereotype that most of the waiters in restaurants in LA are people trying to become famous actors.

Other places you may have heard about that are part of LA include Brentwood, Encino, Watts, Venice Beach, Tarzana, Chinatown, Little Tokyo and Van Nuys. Places you may know that are near LA but not officially part of it are Beverly Hills, Burbank, Santa Monica, Compton, Malibu, Long Beach and Pasadena.

LA is a sprawling city, which means that it takes up a lot of space. It covers 469.1 square miles for about four million people, compared to New York City, which takes up only 302.6 square miles for almost nine million people. Because of this urban sprawl, everyone depends heavily on cars. Because of so many cars, large freeways were built to handle the traffic. Unfortunately, the cars multiplied too fast, and now people say the freeways are parking lots!

Because LA lies on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, it has beaches. But it also has mountains and valleys and very good weather. You may have heard the song that goes, “It never rains in southern California”. Of course that’s not really true, though the weather is usually nice. But long periods of no rain cause droughts, then rain comes and sometimes causes mudslides. In addition, LA lies on the San Andreas Fault, which means there are earthquakes, too. A human-made problem is smog, which is a cloud of air pollution that hangs over the city.

Los Angeles is often called La La Land, partly because of the abbreviation ‘LA’ and partly because the phrase “lala land” means a fantasy place where people who are out of touch with the real world go in their heads. Los Angeles has a reputation for being a place that isn’t quite the same as the real world.

Of course, native tribes such as the Chumash and Tongva lived there before Spanish settlers came in 1769. The Spanish name of the settlement translates as “The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula”. “The angels” in Spanish is “los angeles”, which is now pronounced “Los Angeles” in English.

Los Angeles has one of the most diverse populations in the world, which means that there are many different ethnic groups. More than 90 languages besides English are spoken by people who live in LA. One of the biggest groups is the Latino population, and much of this group has Mexican heritage.

Besides the uniqueness of Hollywood, LA has everything you can imagine in a large city. There are cultural places such as museums, theaters and art galleries plus famous universities such as University of Southern California (USC) and University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). Professional sports teams and major medical centers are located there, too. And the LA airport, called LAX, is one of the most important airports in the world.

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That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.