Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pronouncing the supremes: Sotomayor edition

Wow, I should not have been surprised by some people in the media stumbling a little on Judge Sotomayor's name — it's unfamiliar to a lot of people and the stress pattern of the Spanish form isn't obvious maybe. But I didn't expect to hear outrage over a modestly Spanish-like pronunciation. Wrong again, as a National Review writer proves here, and this confirms. Mark Krikorian asks about whether to go with the "Spanish pronunciation, so-toe-my-OR, or the natural English pronunciation, SO-tuh-my-er". He clearly wants it anglicized, saying apparently about the native-like stress pattern, "it sticks in my craw":
Deferring to people's own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits. Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English.
Unnatural? Limits? SO-tuh-my-er sound utterly horrible to my native English-speaking ear, if we're taking a freaking vote. Having learned about the story from Wonkette (here), there's little left to be said that Wonkette didn't say:
Pronouncing a proper noun in its natural Spanish way “is something we shouldn’t be giving in to.” How is this “giving in to” anything?
I'll let you, gentle reader, click through for the Rest of the Story. (And remember, Wonkette is the very embodiment of 'snark.')



Image from the ToBI folks at Ohio State, here. (If you don't know about ToBI, check it out.)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, the rightwing's gutter is running over with insane reactions to her nomination. Check out this:

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/05/conservative-whispers-to-hill-reporter-concern-about-the-impact-diet-will-have-on-her-jurisprude.php?ref=fpblg

The Ridger, FCD said...

All Muricans ought to have their names pronounced in Murican, dangnabbit.

At the airport last night some gate agent was calling for "Passenger Jimenez" - pronounced like "Jim". I was quite startled: I'd have thought the correct pronunciation of at least the J would have been fairly close to universally known...

Mr. Verb said...

By 'correct' you mean Murican Correct or Foreign Correct?

Anon: Sigh.

The Ridger, FCD said...

In the second sentence I actually meant Furrin Correct. I just thought Jose Jimenez was too well known...

Steve Muhlberger said...

I know well educated people from the SW USA who don't know (or once didn't) how "eau" in French is pronounced.

I once was that French-deaf, too.

Adrian said...

Why would SO-tuh-my-er be the "natural English pronunciation"? Wouldn't that be SO-tuh-may-er or SO-tuh-mair?

Yuval said...

Isn't the world's best high-jumper ever named by this name?

Anonymous said...

Is "Foreign Correct" the same thing as "Illegal Alien"?

Anonymous said...

Well at least he's consistent. He's always insisted on "Scal-ya" like "Dahlia".