ba-ROCK and so-toe-my-OR
Bob Somerby reads two front-page profiles of Sonia Sotomayor and reports back:
In the Times, Sotomayor is a person who is also Hispanic. In the Post’s formal profile, Sotomayor’s ethnicity is the headlined focus. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Goldstein’s focus on ethnicity features a peculiarly trivial, unflattering selection of anecdotes and recollections.
So, are we supposed to use the Spanish pronunciation, so-toe-my-OR, or the natural English pronunciation, SO-tuh-my-er, like Niedermeyer? [Following up the next day:] 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 [...] and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to.
You know, I'm lousy at pronoucing non-English words. If you want a nicely rolled R, look elsewhere. But so-toe-my-OR? Give me a break. A five-year-old can do that. Just like we all got used to pronouncing the president's name ba-ROCK.
This is going to be a long couple of months.