What I’m not so crazy about is the event’s alternate name: Oaklavia.
As you can see, the official spelling is Oaklavía, with an acute accent over the i, so I know it’s meant to be pronounced oak-la-VEE-ya. But where I’ve most often seen it – in the #oaklavia hashtag, the oaklavia.org URL, and sundry blog posts – the accent doesn’t show up. And every time I see it, I read it as oak-LAY-vee-ya, to rhyme with “Octavia” or “Batavia.” And it’s a short slide from oak-LAY-vee-ya to oak-labia, and let’s try to be grownups here, shall we?
Oaklavía has been an annual event since 2010; the name and the activity are modeled after Ciclovía – “bike path” in Spanish – an open-streets event that originated in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1976 and has been a weekly occurrence in many Colombian cities ever since. Ciclovía has inspired many similar events around the world: San Francisco’s, which takes place from spring through fall, is called Sunday Streets; Los Angeles has a semiannual CicLAvia, which may be pronounced with a stressed vee, but you’d never guess it from the capitalized LA. CicLAvia always makes me think about cicadas, which is ridiculous, because there are no cicadas in L.A.
There’s some precedent for successful Oak- portmanteaus in Oakland: Oaksterdam University (“quality training for the cannabis industry”), Oaklandish (“local love” apparel and other products), and probably a few others I’ve forgotten. But Oaklavía – where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain? – just seems to be trying too hard. Remember: If you have to depend on fussy punctuation or accents to make the name intelligible, the name isn’t as strong as it could be. (See my 2011 post “Six Naming Questions You May Have Overlooked.”)
“Oakland Streets,” anyone?