Friday, May 29, 2009

Intolerance Comes Natural to Him

Mark Krikorian (pronounced, I believe, crack-WHORE-ian) argues that the proper pronunciation of Sonia Sotomayor's surname is "unnatural."

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 (which is why the president stopped doing it after the first time at his press conference)..., and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to.
I'm sure that his next target will be those old names from Great Britain whose pronunciations make no sense—like "Menzies."
1. How is your name pronounced?

Well that depends. In the area were the Clan originated it is definitely pronounced “Mingus”. However the Clan Society recognises that those of the name Menzies have spread far beyond the limits of Strathtay where not everyone is familiar with local pronunciation and is perfectly happy to accept those who prefer to pronounce their name in a more phonetic style. Though, David Menzies of Menzies (the Clan Chief) when refered to as “Men-zies of Men-zies” is reputed to have responded that there is no such person.

2. Why is it spelt one way but pronounced another?

The reasons are best describe as unclear. The most popular theory is that at one point there was confusion between the way that Gaels wrote their lowercase “g”s and “z”s both of which looked like the numeral 3. Thus, Mengus or Mingus evolved into Menzus or Minzus, which later evolved into Menzies. The thing to remember here is that neither literacy nor standard spellings were as prevalent as they are now. There are plenty of other names that are not pronounced as they are spelled. For example, Dalziel (usually pronounced DL) Mainwaring (usually pronounced Mannering) and Gloucester (usually pronounced Glos-ter).

Bill West

So Chris, do you favor Dunum, Dunhum
or Dunham?


Bill West (the t is not silent)


Every Dunham I know pronounces it "Dunnum." Every telemarketer I know pronounces it "Dun-Ham." I'll have to ask Mr. Krikorian which is more "natural."

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