Assimilation

This guy Mark Krikorian wrote a blog posting at the National Review’s web site yesterday in which he said that soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor shouldn’t expect her name to be pronounced properly because she’s a foreigner. Further, he said that she should “adapt to us” and that “we” shouldn’t “be giving in to” her name’s weird pronunciation. Oh, and he implied that multiculturalism is bad.

This guy is from the Center For Immigration Studies; I don’t know what that means.

Here is the full quotation:

“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…insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn’t be giving in to. And there are basically two options—the newcomer adapts to us, or we adapt to him. And multiculturalism means there’s a lot more of the latter going on than there should be.”

Oh, heaven help me. Sometimes I still get shocked that people like this exist.

First of all, Mr. KRIKORIAN, people’s names are their names. It doesn’t cause you physical pain nor inconvenience you greatly to say a person’s name the way it is meant to be pronounced. It’s just plain respectful.

It is true that in English we often Anglicise certain words or names. For example, we don’t refer to Germany as Deutschland in English. But that’s because it’s a translation. In English, Germany means Deutschland, just as the English translation of the French word cochon is pig.

There is no English translation for Sotomayor. That’s her name! And it’s not so difficult to show respect for someone’s name. Really. Come on, try it Mr. KRIKORIAN. Just once.

Secondly: Dude! You’re Armenian! WTF? Your family was once a “newcomer,” and your name is still Krikorian! Krikorian?!? Well that doesn’t sound like any English name I know! Why don’t you adapt to us and make it easier for us so we don’t have to strain ourselves trying to pronounce that foreign-sounding name. Can we just shorten it to Krik? And we’ll let people decide if they’d prefer to pronounce it “crick” or “creek”—whatever’s easiest for them.

Finally, as for his argument that it is unnatural to emphasize the final syllable in English, I wish I could ask Mr. Krekorian how he pronounces the word deny. Does he pronounce it DE-ny? How about annul? Is it A-nul?  What about garage? Is he one of those who says GARE-idge? What about one of the states in his very own country, Vermont—does he pronounce it VER-mint (like “vermin”)? How about inure, or imply, or bereft, or transform, or elect, or subside, or routine…. I really could go on and on, but you get the point.

And that is?

That likely to Mark Krikorian’s pleasure, the emphasis is on the first syllable in the word asshole. And bigot. And doofus. And foreigner.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Here here! Couldn’t have said it better! What an idiot that guy is.


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