Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rivera or "Ree-vey-rah."

A recent story on National Public Radio featured an interview with a superintendent of schools (I do not remember his city) whose surname was Rivera.  I do not remember his first name, but I recall quite clearly that when he spoke, his American English was totally accent-free.  Now I don't know how he pronounces his name, but I'll bet he pronounces it the way I would, or most English-speakers would - the way you would - that is without a Latino inflection or accent.  The reporter of the piece, however, constantly referred to Mr. Rivera as Mr. "Ree-vey-raah" reading his surname with a distinct Latino accent in a way that the name would be pronounced in a Spanish-speaking country.  The reporter, by the way, who, judging by his surname (also not specifically remembered), had a Latino background,  spoke perfect accent-free English, giving a Latino accent only to the name "Rivera" and to his own name in his narration of the piece.

I have never heard reporters pronounce Irish names with an Irish brogue, or Scottish names with a Scottish burr, or German names as they would be pronounced in a German-speaking country, etc.  But this is not the first time that I've noted the exception made for Latino names when uttered by Latino reporters speaking accent-free American English.

I seriously doubt that Mr. Rivera, or other English-speaking native-born Americans with names such as Fernandez or Morales, would actually prefer to have their names voiced as they would be in their ancestral Spanish-speaking countries.

But, maybe they do!  And if so, "mea culpa" (pronounce this in the original Latin manner, please).

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