I live on Dufossat Street and have polled people from all walks of life concerning the correct pronunciation of the street name. Either the emphasis is on the second syllable or the last, and each person will swear up and down that the other is incorrect. Can you solve this problem once and for all?
Dear Ms. B.,
I can try, but you know how people are. They believe what they want to believe — and pronunciation of street names in New Orleans is idiosyncratic.
The Frenchman for whom the street is named — Valmont Soniat DuFossat — would have pronounced his name with the accent on the second syllable. The vowel in the third syllable is pronounced like "cat," but the "t" is silent.
The street was named in 1841 when plantation owner Francois Robert Avart subdivided his land. He named one street Robert after himself and three other streets — Valmont, Soniat and DuFossat — after his son-in-law. Avart must have been very fond of his daughter Almaris' husband because he named another street in the suburb Bellecastle for a branch of the Soniat family, which never actually got to America.