In Defense of "Natural Pronunciation"

As Damon Root explains here, libertarians probably won't have much to gain from a Sotomayor SCOTUS appointment. But at least we can be glad that her nomination prompted Mark Krikorian to write this transcendent defense of speaking American:

Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English... and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to.

Hear hear! And it's a crying shame we all capitulated to the Italians in calling Alito Aleeto. Henceforth I encourage all of you to order whores-de-vores if you'd like to eat something prior to an entree main meal. Anything less would be downright disrespectful to the English language, which as we all know rose fully formed from the magical tongues of Anglo-Saxon royalty, wholly unpoisoned by Latinate or Norman influence. (And let's please hand it to conservatives for consistently denying evolution in any form.) As Nick Gillespie once put it:

Thank you, Middle Eastern 9/11 hijackers, for finally getting the point through our thick skulls (forgive our slowness, but all too many of us are descended from immigrants) that the greatest security threat to the United States is the influx of Spanish speakers from across the border with Mexico.

Christ, it's bad enough that we have to eat foreign food, live in states with Spanish-derived names, and answer that extra question about which language to use at the ATM. (Thought experiment: How much is that extra second or two of time slowing down the U.S. economy and driving down our productivity, precisely at the moment when the Chinese are breathing down our necks like a bunch of post-industrial railroad coolies? You can be damn sure that the Chinese government doesn't allow ATM users to pick their own language.)

So true. So think of it as a national security issue: SOtuhmayer. To pronounce it any other way is to defy nature in all her prescriptive glory. 

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  • Technomist||

    They often do have an English option on ATM machines in China, a country where I understand there are many millions of English speakers now.

  • ||

    With what does Krikorian wash his hair? Does he wear pajamas or does he insist on nightclothes? Would he be devastated to know how much of his vocabulary is Aryan? Does he avoid teak furniture?

    Does he know what an Aryan is? I mean, the originals, not the whacked out name-thieves we think of now.

    Poor guy would be out of a job if he tried to limit himself to Anglo-Saxon.

    I guess he's just an idiot.
    who pronounces her name "freed" even though it's spelled "fried," like fried rice. (I think Cathy Seipp of blessed memory did the reverse - "sipe" instead of "seep."

    Uh, dumbass. Fried is pronounced "freed" because the i comes before the e. Seip is pronounced "sipe" because the e precedes the i. How is this guy literate?

  • Barnacle Bill||

    Couldn't the ATM card tell the machine which is your preferred language instead of asking all the time?

  • Fascitis Necrotizante||

    People should pronounce it however she pronounces it herself.

    How does she pronounce it? SOtomayor or SotomayOR?

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    In addition to the general sadness of posts like this passing for political commentary nowadays, what's curious is that both MattYglesias and WashingtonMonthly have discussed the point. Is Howley also on Journ-o-list?

    Whatever defense anyone wants to make, it's clear the Reason has no InterestInAssimilation but is simply willing to give the far-left even more power. And, it looks like I can add another item to this list.

    Here's a comment I left on an earlier entry here:

    Reason's complaints about subsidies and the problems CA is having might mean something if they didn't support massive subsidies and if their ideology hadn't played a role in helping CA get into the shape it is.

    Reason has consistently supported MassiveImmigration without making eliminating the WelfareState a precondition. That MassiveImmigration has not only greatly increased spending by CA, it's given a massive subsidy to crooked businesses. And, it's given a great deal of PoliticalPower to the far-left; the far-left has responded by using their additional power to push for more spending.

    I frankly don't know whether Reason is corrupt or stupid, but it doesn't really matter. Their ideas have been shown to be faulty and no one should take their advice on getting out of the problems their ideology helped create.

    P.S. In case anyone replies to this, their responses will almost assuredly be ad homs, thereby conceding my points and showing the childish, anti-intellectual nature of libertarians.

  • ||

    Shut the fuck up lonewhacko!

  • ||

    who pronounces her name "freed" even though it's spelled "fried," like fried rice. (I think Cathy Seipp of blessed memory did the reverse - "sipe" instead of "seep."


    It must be Milton "Fried man" as well. What a dumbass. Sorry, Dumas.

  • ||

    Once again, I am reminded that I need to install INCIF on my home computer.

    ShutThe FuckUp LoneWhackoff!

  • ||

    He's on to something! The plural of cactus is cacti! Those fucking Romans, always with the unnatural pluralization that we shouldn't give in to. We must block Roman SCOTUS appointments!

    Likewise with the Mexican practice of including your mother's maiden name as your last name, after your father's surname.

    That's a Spanish practice, Saussure.

  • ||

    He probably still says "Yur-ayn-uss", too.

  • ||

    Hey, where did the novel go?

  • ||

    LoneWacko was sick of people not responding to his arguments, especially that bitch Bronwyn. He decided that the best way to handle it would be to preemptively announce that anyone who didn't respond, or mocked him, therefore got pwned by him. Yeah, that would work.

    He finished typing, and then downed several laxatives. He had the transvestite hooker coming over soon with the diapers and the raw milk and the M&Ms, and he needed to be really loose for it. But first he had to lay down some plastic on the floor.

  • ||

    Oh, and LoneWhackJob, since I know you are just a sad hack and not a troll I will actually ask of you for proof on this point:

    Reason has consistently supported MassiveImmigration without making eliminating the WelfareState a precondition.

    You show me where any reason author has while working at reason spoken in favor of "the WelfareState".

    Here, I'll give you a head start.

  • Hedley Lamarr||

    Not to mention the fact that I keep having to remind this Krikorian asshole that it's Hedley Lamarr, not Hedy Lamarr.

  • matt2||

    The silver lining in this Sotomayor appointment really is LoneWacko's blinding, impotent rage. It's almost all worth it just to watch him implode over the next 4 years.

  • ||

    Soda Meyer? Isn't that a soft drink created by a Jewish pharmacist in Brooklyn in the early 1900s? Funny. The judge doesn't LOOK Jewish. Oy!

  • ||

    Epi, installing INCF is essentially the act of a pussy, no? Its kind of a "i'm gonna take my toys and go home" attitude.

    As for Lonewacko, what it disappointing is that he does not respond. I have attempted to engage him, but he appears content to post and run.

  • ||

    I also agree that we should pronounce her name as she pronounces it. As a fallback, I suppose it would be OK to pronounce it as her BAILIFF does when introducing her in Court.

  • Redneck Cracker||

    Hey! If English was good enough for Jesus then it sure as hell should be good enough for some wetback judge!

  • PETE||

    Oooh! How long have you Reasonites been graced with the presence of 24AheadDotCom??

    He's a real stitch. Tell us about Obama's birth certificate, 24. What does the Clinton Death List have to do with California's current fiscal situation, I mean, besides "everything."

  • ||

    Oooh! How long have you Reasonites been graced with the presence of 24AheadDotCom??

    A loooong time. He used to be called "LoneWacko", as was his site, but he changed that last year or so to 24Ahead.

    He's our pet fruitcake. You can pet him, but watch out because he might pee on your leg.

  • ||

    ...installing INCF is essentially the act of a pussy, no?

    Nope, it's the act of an engineer trying to improve SNR.

  • Fascitis Necrotizante||

    BoneWhacker why not copy what you just said and paste it every single time you want to comment? You only ever say the exact same thing.

    Get off the computer for a second. Take some deep breaths. Go for a walk. Think about the finer things in life that you're missing right now.

    Fall in love, listen to a symphony, run a marathon. Get another tranny to shit on you. Just stop obsessing like a loser on the shit that makes you a loser and acting out and coming here to loser up everybody else's time.

  • Fascitis Necrotizante||

    Meanwhile, I'm still not sure how she pronounces her name. You mean I'm gonna have to look this up for myself?

  • Stephen Smith||

    The funny thing about the word "entree" is that it comes from the French word entrée, which means appetizers (cognate with the word...entry). Lord only knows why we started using it to mean the main course (i.e., plat principal en français). So, by using it you're both haughty and culturally ignorant at the same time!

  • Fascitis Necrotizante||

    Have it said to you.

  • Raymond Luxury-Yacht||

    Specialist: Ah! Mr Luxury Yacht. Do sit down, please.

    Mr Luxury Yacht: Ah, no, no. My name is spelt 'Luxury Yacht' but it's pronounced 'Throatwobbler Mangrove'.

  • ||

    Barnacle Bill: My question, too. After the card was used the first X times and "English" always picked, you'd think it would learn. User interface fail.

    As for pronunciation, note how the multi-culti types always bend over backwards to pronounce non-English words in a non-English way, but don't realize that in foreign countries, they do the same things most Americans do: pronounce foreign words in their own way. E.g. the French don't say "United States," they say "États Unis." So that's my excuse for saying "Peking" instead of "Beijing."

  • cat Moses||

    If this 24aheaddotcom would speak English maybe someone would reply to him.

    What language is "WelfareState', "MassiveImmigration".

    Why don't you learn English if you're going to live her?

  • Colin||

    Krikorian is so over the top that I, instinctively, ignore all his posts at the Corner.

  • GILMORE||

    PETE | May 27, 2009, 8:44pm | #
    Oooh! How long have you Reasonites been graced with the presence of 24AheadDotCom??


    I dont remember a time when he wasnt making an ass out of himself under one name or another.

    He changes his handle periodically, which is understandable. I blame his parents. They didnt beat him nearly as hard as they should have.

  • GILMORE||

    Oh, and that guy Krikorian is a boob.

    He takes pride in using a 4th syllable in his name. Its less Armenian! USA! USA! USA! What a douche.

    I plan to force people to pronounce my name in gaelic now. I just have to first figure out how that works. Gaelmourea? Hmm. Fuck em!

  • Pepe||

    "He's on to something! The plural of cactus is cacti! Those fucking Romans, always with the unnatural pluralization that we shouldn't give in to. We must block Roman SCOTUS appointments!"

    Actually Cactus is from Greek so pluralizing as Cacti is a mistake although a common enough one that it's in the dictionary. Same for Octopus. Cactuses and Octopuses is actually better even if ignorant people may correct you.

  • ||

    I now have no doubt about how Ms. Howley pronounces "Paris." And of course she long ago abandoned "Moscow." And "Turin" is so declasse that not even Couric says it.

  • John Cain||

    As for pronunciation, note how the multi-culti types always bend over backwards to pronounce non-English words in a non-English way, but don't realize that in foreign countries, they do the same things most Americans do: pronounce foreign words in their own way. E.g. the French don't say "United States," they say "États Unis." So that's my excuse for saying "Peking" instead of "Beijing."



    Jeebus H. Christ! "United States" is one of the few country names with no proper nouns, so it gets translated as "Estados Unidos", "Vereinigte Staaten", etc. It's not a measure of disrespect, it's a quirk of grammar.

    And as soon as the Chinese start randomly naming US and European cities whatever they want regardless of what the locals call it, you can call it Peking.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English... and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to.



    Well, how the fuck am I supposed to pronouce Blagojevich NOW?

  • Pepe||

    Kirkorian is being over the top but I sometimes the pronunciation of foreign words by the media can be obnoxious. When it comes to a person's own name we really should say it the way they do. But there are lots of words of foreign origin that have pretty commonly accepted American pronunciations and going out of your way to say it in the native form is annoying.

    For example, newscasters who pronounce Spanish place names in the US with a correct Spanish pronunciation instead of the way just about all Americans say it. In California, for example, there are plenty of weird American ways of saying things like San Pedro (San Peedro), Los Angeles (Loss Anjuhliss), San Rafael (San Ruh-Fell), etc. But we all say it that way. Even latinos unless they are speaking Spanish.

    It's a quirk of history that we pronounce some foreign words the same way as they are in their native tongue and others in an Americanized way. But once it becomes the norm it is really annoying when people go out of their way to say it "correctly". You can call it a Kwa-sant when you're in Pairee. No one calls it that here who isn't a douche.

  • Mad Max||

    Have you noticed the following from Kickin's post:

    (I call him Kickin because I don't want to pollute my vocabulary with a d___ed foreign word like 'Krikorian')

    'But one of the areas where conformity is appropriate is how your new countrymen say your name, since that's not something the rest of us can just ignore, unlike what church you go to or what you eat for lunch.'

    So there you have it - where Sotomayor goes to church is just as irrelevant as what she had for lunch.

    Of course, the church Sotomayor attends is the Catholic Church. I am trying to think whether the founders of National Review would have allowed something like this to be published in their magazine - putting religion on the same level of indifference as culinary taste.

    In the old days, if Kickin wanted to posit a moral equivalence between eating burritos and attending the Roman Catholic Church, then he would have had to find someplace other than *National Review* to sound off. Some place like the *Nation,* for example. But I'm being unfair the *Nation,* because I think those guys would have been sensitive (for better or worse) to the implications of someone's Catholic affiliation.

  • Mad Max||

    (If Sotomayor *doesn't* eat burritos, then I will perform a penance assigned by the Central Committee of White Gringo Liberals Against Stereotypes.)

  • The Virgin Mary||

    Even I am sick of hearing Mad Max talk about the poor persecuted Catholics. Shut the fuck up, Mad Max.

  • ||

    Does he know what an Aryan is? I mean, the originals, not the whacked out name-thieves we think of now.

    We call them "Indo-Europeans" these days. What can I say, it was a semantic war, and the name thieves won.

  • Jonas||

    Interestingly, my immediate reaction was to pronounce the name "so-to-my-OR", and once everyone in the news was saying "SOto-meyer" I kept trying to say it that way all day.

    Apparently I have instinctively "unnatural" pronunciation.

    Then again, I do pronounce "specialty" as "speciALity", so maybe there really is something wrong with me.

  • where\'s the no-doz?||

    Apparently, no subject is too trivial to be the subject of a Kerry Howley commentary.

  • Mad Max||

    The Virgin Mary,

    Hmmm . . . either you're not really the Virgin Mary, or else your eloquence has deteriorated since you pronouunced the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).

  • ||

    "And as soon as the Chinese start randomly naming US and European cities whatever they want regardless of what the locals call it, you can call it Peking."

    If I recall correctly, the Chinese do have some pretty amusing pronunciations for foreign cities and names.. I guess it's a result of trying to adapt to their syllable structure
    Consider (in trad. chinese, with hanyu pinyin romanization):
    紐約 = Niu3 yue1 = "New York" (note also that Chinese romanization is a tad strange, such that this phrase sounds like nyoh-üeh)

    洛杉磯 = luo4 shan1 ji1 = "Los Angeles"

    多倫多 = duo1 lun2 duo1 = "Toronto"

    法國 = fa3 guo2 = "France
    Need I say more? Go at it, PapayaSF. Have fun in Peking.

  • ||

    Actually Cactus is from Greek so pluralizing as Cacti is a mistake although a common enough one that it's in the dictionary. Same for Octopus. Cactuses and Octopuses is actually better even if ignorant people may correct you.

    Good point, Mr. LePew. I should have used stimulus/stimuli or datum/data. 2nd declension FTW.

  • hmm||

    ...a moral equivalence between eating burritos and attending the Roman Catholic Church...

    Both give me horrible gas, make me feel like shit after consumption, cost too much, and make me want to take a nap if ingested in sufficient quantities.

    The upside being no one has been molested by a burrito. At least no one that wasn't asking for it.


    She could pronounce her name B-O-B for all I care, she is still going to be a worthless jurist.

  • ||

    John Cain, there are many other examples. The French call England "Angleterre," Germany is called "Allemagne," the Germans call France "Frankreich" and Russia "Russland," the Croats call France "Francuska," etc. etc.

  • Jesse Walker||

    In case anyone replies to this, their responses will almost assuredly be ad homs, thereby conceding my points and showing the childish, anti-intellectual nature of libertarians.

    I can see why it would frustrate you that people react to your arguments, or the strings of sentences that you take to be arguments, with insults rather than carefully thought out responses. But there was a time when people here, and in the other websites you haunt, did take the time to point out the reading comprehension errors, factual flubs, logical mishaps, unsupported speculation, psychological projection, and -- yes -- ad hominems that make up the typical Lonewacko "argument." You generally responded with yet more reading comprehension errors, factual flubs, logical mishaps, unsupported speculation, psychological projection, and ad hominems. After a while, attempting to engage you in adult conversation didn't seem worth the bother. Insulting you, on the other hand, could be fun, because you're kind of a jerk.

  • Syd||

    Actually Cactus is from Greek so pluralizing as Cacti is a mistake although a common enough one that it's in the dictionary. Same for Octopus. Cactuses and Octopuses is actually better even if ignorant people may correct you.

    Actually, cacti and cactuses are both correct. We get it from Greek via Latin, and the Latin plural was cacti, so you can use that. I suppose you could use the Greek one, too, whatever that is.

    Octopus comes straight from the Greek, so the plural is octopuses, or, if you prefer the Greek form, octopodes. You should probably use the first so people won't look at you funny.

    Similarly, the plural of hippopotamus is hippopotamuses.

  • Ray Gardner||

    Actually the whole idea of correct or not correct is a little off.

    Language is always evolving, and what is incorrect today could possibly be correct tomorrow.

    The correct way to say "attacked" 200 years ago would have been to pronounce the ed at the end with the result sound something like "attack-ed." This is why we see it written during that time period as "attack't" or "attack'd" when they wanted to affect the colloquial.

    More to the point of the post however, America is of course a melting pot of languages with English only being the central vehicle that absorbs the outliers.

    Living in the Southwest, I've always wondered how so many things took on Spanish names whenever the people in charge were so often white folks who looked down on their darker skinned neighbors.

    And the flip side of the pronunciation police efforts is of course, that if one side cannot legitimately complain about foreign languages on their voting ballots, then those whose first language is not English have no more valid of a complaint if their name is mangled by the locals. It does go both ways.

  • Pepe||

    I stand corrected. I still prefer Cactuses. Using Latin rules when speaking English always seemed strange to me. We don't generally do it with words borrowed from other languages.

  • ||

    "Reason has consistently supported MassiveImmigration without making eliminating the WelfareState a precondition. That MassiveImmigration has not only greatly increased spending by CA, it's given a massive subsidy to crooked businesses. And, it's given a great deal of PoliticalPower to the far-left; the far-left has responded by using their additional power to push for more spending."

    Yep.

    Except the 'far-left' is now mainstream, and increasingly going to be so.

  • ||

    Put me down for stupid, though. A massive ideological overreach.

  • Paul||

    Dumb conversation. Her name is how she pronounces it. If Sotomayor pronounces her last name 'Hak-el-mayer' then by god, we call her 'Hak-el-mayer'. And I don't give a shit how Nina Totenberg or anyone else on NPR pronounces it.

    Next issue.

  • ||

    دعوة للمشاركة في بناء Michael Jackson أكبر موسوعة: هل تحب أن تشارك علمك مع الناس وأن تكون معطاءً؟ انقر عدل هذه الصفحة Nicaragua الآن أو ابدأ تعلم تحرير rhinoplasty الصفحات!

  • ||

    I don't know what burr got up Kerry's butt, but reporting on this is inane. To insinuate that Krikorian speaks for some segment of conservatism is silly. Go ahead and laugh at the loon, but don't read any more into it.

  • galthran||

    Actually Patrick G, many Mandarin Chinese proper names that make no sense are much closer phonetically in the Cantonese from which they are adapted. There is also some borrowing the other way too, depending on if a name from "the west" caught on in the north or south of China first. Couldn't tell you about your examples, though, since I'm illiterate and don't speak Mandarin.

    Peking is a reasonably close English equivalent of the Cantonese name of that city.

  • ||

    I don't know what burr got up Kerry's butt

    Sshhh. You'll summon the perverts.

    Also, I have a solid bet that LoneWacko doesn't come up with a cogent response to Jesse Walker's post.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "Krikorian" is Latvian for "Yes, I do have a big fat ass. Please kick me very hard."

  • Brawnwin||

    Jesse, that was beautiful. *kiss*

    Oooh! I made into the novel!

    It's a shame that Aryan was lost to the whackjobs... Indo-European is such a chore to say.

    /channeling KrikOReeann

  • Bronwyn||

    Brandybuck, I don't see Kerry making any suggestion that Krikorian represents conservatives... at least, not beyond his presence at TNR, and *they're* conservatism is often questionable these days.

    This wasn't reporting so much as a "hey, lookit this idiot! Let's point and laugh and have some fun while we cry about how *this* is what self-proclaimed thought leaders are talking about."

  • Bronwyn||

    they're... ((sigh))

  • ||

    Uh, dumbass. Fried is pronounced "freed" because the i comes before the e. Seip is pronounced "sipe" because the e precedes the i. How is this guy literate?

    I don't want to appear to be lending support to Krikorian, who has an argument I find monumentally stupid. But if this is the case, how come it isn't "fried rice" isn't pronounced "freed rice"?

  • Bronwyn||

    Because fried is an English word, indicating the past tense of "fry".

    Fried and Seip are not of English origin.

    /not a linguist or grammarian, so you won't get an academically rigorous defense from me.

  • edna||

    You can call it a Kwa-sant when you're in Pairee. No one calls it that here who isn't a douche.

    i guess that makes me a douche. i've never heard it pronounced any differently in the u.s. (en pah-ree frawns, on dit "kwa-sawh") what is the approved, all-american way to say croissant?

  • MattXIV||

    what is the approved, all-american way to say croissant?



    Cross-ant. As in "I'll take two of them cross-ants and a bree-o-chee."

  • ||

    I try to follow the rule, "If a word is good enough to be used in an English sentence, it's good enough to take an English plural suffix." Nevertheless, I've never found a social or rhetorical context where I can get by with *criterions*, even though the OED lists it as an alternative to *criteria.*

    As for proper names, it's a matter of common courtesy to try to pronounce them the way their users do.

  • strat||

    Look, I don't care how the lady pronounces her name. I try to default to the pronunciation used by native speakers for people's last names out of courtesy...BUT...

    this is an opportunity for us to raise one of the most egregious and pervasive linguistic corruptions in America (Uhmerca?) today:

    Will someone PLEASE tell Brett Favre that the R comes AFTER the V in his name?

  • max hats||

    I love how in so many peoples' minds, Puerto Rican = Mexican. Screaming about "illegal immigration" from PR to New York is like decrying all those border jumpers moving from Iowa to California. Fucking lonewacko. I think I actually just lost respect for the guy. Did not know that was possible.

  • Invisible Finger||

    In addition to the general sadness of posts like this passing for political commentary nowadays, what's curious is that both MattYglesias and WashingtonMonthly have discussed the point. Is Howley also on Journ-o-list?

    Maybe Kerry is saving topics of actual pertinence for her creative writing. Her recent H&R posts since her "re-arrival" have been real yawners. Maybe creative writing classes do that to people.

  • alan||

    I don't know what burr got up Kerry's butt

    Sshhh. You'll summon the perverts.


    So, what's up, every body?



    i guess that makes me a douche. i've never heard it pronounced any differently in the u.s. (en pah-ree frawns, on dit "kwa-sawh") what is the approved, all-american way to say croissant?

    I've never heard it pronounced any other way either. I think he is making it up.

  • ||

    Re: "croissant" I generally hear the "r" and the "t" pronounced in America.

    I also think people who go out of their way to give foreign pronunciations to words are signalling that they are pretentious douchebags.

    People's proper names should be pronounced however the person wants. That includes Brett Favre."

  • strat||

    People's proper names should be pronounced however the person wants. That includes Brett Favre."

    I agree as a matter of etiquette. I suppose it's more that I just wonder how it got to be that way.

    There's no pass for people who say "I could care less" though, as it completely inverts the sense of the statement.

  • strat||

    heh. The H&R gerbils eat even ironic HTML tags, including my < / pedant >

  • edna||

    Re: "croissant" I generally hear the "r" and the "t" pronounced in America.

    wow, i need to get out more! many thanks from this douchebag.

  • ||

    Gilmore, I think you want Mac Giolla Mhuire.

    And "Favre" is correctly pronounced numbah fo'.

    Kevin

  • dpsc||

    "how come it isn't "fried rice" isn't pronounced "freed rice"?"

    Because the correct pronunciation is "flied lice", and pronouncing the 'ie' in that as 'ee' can only lead to entomological confusion. The good lord knows we wouldn't want that...

    As for entree, I'm not sure the American use of it to indicate a main course makes us guilty of cultural ignorance. It's not uncommon for adopted words to take on entirely new meanings in the foster language. I mean, I don't consider the Japanese culturally ignorant despite the fact that what they mean by the Japanese equivalent of the English "service" is pretty distinct from the English meaning of the word. Actually, the cultural ignorance is, IMHO, on the part of people who don't understand that "sabisu" is a Japanese word now, with its own meaning. As is the English "hairykerry", though I'll admit to being enough of a douche that outside of John Belushi imitations (mty "speedball Samurai" has been described as remarkably deathlike") I continue call that either "hara-kiri" or "seppuku", depending on the context.

    I think people's names should be pronounced as they want them pronounced, but I also think allowances should be made for mispronunciations of names that are hard to pronounce given the dominant language(s) of a region. Not many Americans can get my name right when reading it, though the pronunciation seems pretty obvious to me.

    But focusing on something as silly as the pronunciation of Sotomayor obscures a larger point about language and assimilation. I'm not saying that the US should legislate an official language or anything, but I think it's generally a lot better for immigrants to pick up the local lingo. I mean- I don't like the "bunch of lazy spics/gooks/etc. should just speak English" rhetoric, but it's not only more polite to speak the language of the country you've decided to move to, it opens a lot of doors that would be otherwise closed.

    I've always been good with languages- I can pick up even languages that are considered difficult for Westerners to a usable (but generally broken enough to make people laugh, since they haven't invented PC yet in those furriner nations) level in 6 months. I used to think this was just because I had the gift of tongues. My family has a long history of linguistic prowess- my great-great-great-great-grandfather was both the foremost British authority on a number of subcontinental languages and enormously successful at suppressing the natives who spoke them- I guess at the time these two things didn't seem contradictory.

    I've come to think that I learn languages easily because I have some inherent gift, and more because I do the right things to learn them, and that most people studying languages don't. So I'm sympathetic to the observable fact that older immigrants really do have a hard time learning English, but I also think that it is partially because second language instruction is incredibly broken.

    I'm not sure I think that the government ought, in a libertopia, to be funding ESL classes for immigrants, but since we live in a decidedly nonliberutopic environment, and we do spend a lot on ESL for immigrants... it's really a scandal that we do so badly at teaching English to older immigrants. It's something that I've devoted a lot of thought to over the last couple of years, and I'd love to do something about it, but that's kind of hard given that my only credential in the field is that I learn languages pretty easily and am pretty convinced that I could teach even the monumentally un-gifted to learn almost as easily.

  • dpsc||

    Err- that should be "less because I have some inherent gift for them"

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