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Tilting at Windmills

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May 28, 2009

STOP DIGGING.... The National Review's Mark Krikorian received quite a bit of criticism yesterday (including some from me) following a couple of posts about the pronunciation of Sonia Sotomayor's name. Krikorian argued that the proper pronunciation, preferred by the judge and her family, is "unnatural in English," and "something we shouldn't be giving in to." It wasn't clear which group of people constituted "we."

Krikorian added that "newcomers" should "adapt" to how "countrymen say your name." To do otherwise would be a failure of "multiculturalism." He knows how to pronounce the Supreme Court nominee's name, but he doesn't like it, and would like others to join him in pronouncing it incorrectly.

Today, after noting the variety of responses to his argument -- Olbermann labeled him the Worst Person in the World last night -- Krikorian thought it wise to return to the subject again today.

[F]or those actually interested in the point, here's what I was trying to get across: While in the past there may well have been too much social pressure for what sociologists call Anglo-conformity, now there isn't enough. I think that's a concern that most Americans share at some level, which is the root of the angst over excessive immigration, bilingual education, official English, etc.

I'm not sure how this helps.

The right would be less reactionary on issues like immigration and English as the "official" language if more families like Sotomayor's would say their names without their accent? If more Spanish-speaking families would simply give up some of their culture and heritage, conservatives would be less narrow-minded?

Krikorian probably should have quit while he was behind.

Steve Benen 2:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

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Comments

And how should we pronounce "Limbaugh"?

Posted by: zz on May 28, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Since when are US citizens immigrants and what does the proper pronunciation of a word have to do with English as the official language?

Posted by: Jay on May 28, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

While in the past there may well have been too much social pressure for what sociologists call Anglo-conformity, now there isn't enough.

And how would we even measure that?

Vague and silly. How typical of Armenian-Americans.

Posted by: JM on May 28, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

A question: Does the word "conservative" actually mean "chickenshit"?

Seriously, what the fuck are these people so scared of?

"Oooh, the terrorists are a-gonna git us!"

"Oooh, them gays are a-gonna git us!"

"Oooh, them furriners are a-gonna git us!"

I guess the real question is: what the fuck are these people not scared of?

Oh. Wait. I totally know this: They are absolutely unafraid of looking like racist knuckledragging anti-intellectuals in public. Not a shred of fear.

Posted by: Cazart on May 28, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Round here we say "Creek or EEYAN."

Posted by: Rolla, MO on May 28, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

And how should we pronounce "Limbaugh"?

I think it's supposed to be pronounced "child molester."

Posted by: JM on May 28, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Someone with a name like krikorian is going to give lectures on what is anglo-american? How does that work?

Posted by: Sarah on May 28, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Krikorian pronounced "shit-for-brains?"

Posted by: gttim on May 28, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

The white guys are worried they are losing power. Oh Happy Days!

Posted by: Heathwood on May 28, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

It was just a few months ago when we all had to learn how to pronounce "Blagojevich". The Republicans didn't seem to mind that exercise in multiculturalism.

Posted by: Bob R. on May 28, 2009 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

As an Anglo American I have never know an Englishman with the name Krikorian. Also he calls the judge a newcomer - she was born in the Bronx. What is his ethnic background?

Posted by: JS on May 28, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I pronounce Krikorian as douchebag. Is that correct?

Posted by: dave on May 28, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

It wasn't clear which group of people constituted "we."

Rich racist white male Republicans. They think of themselves as the only people who matter, and respect minorities and women less than the dog shit under their shoes.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on May 28, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Would Krikorian please tell Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski to stop pronouncing his name Sheshefski, it just isn't Anglo enough.

Posted by: Art P on May 28, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Just googled Krikorian's parents were Armenian immigrants!

Posted by: JS on May 28, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

What is missed in all of this ado about names is that Creekrun has a valid point! Any surname that ends in an 'A' or 'I' or 'O' is obviously unAmerican!

Within his context, we should now refer to the sitting Supreme Court justices as:
- John Paul Stevens (a really good assimilated name)
- Andy Scally (assimilated name)
- Tony Kennedy
- Dave Sutter
- Clarence Thomas (Scally's shadow)
- Ruth G (drop that Jewish stuff)
- Steve Breyer (close enough)
- John Roberts (good assimilated name)
- Sam All

Now that we have cleared up the confusion about assimilated names, we still need to have Creekrun provide an assimilated name and not just complain about her pronunciation. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if she even pronounces it with a Spanish accent.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on May 28, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

How does he THINK we should pronounce "Sotomayor."

SotoMAYer?

I've never heard that name before. And I grew up where the Jimenez family pronounced their name "GYMinez."

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 28, 2009 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like Krikorian wants our country to go back to the mid-20th Century. That's when immigrants were made to feel ashamed of their heritages and cultures and were forced to adapt to American ways.

I am the daughter of 2, second-generation immigrants: Mom was Portuguese and Dad was Finnish. My Dad's father was forced to change his name to "Anderson" when he arrived in this country and Mom's Father had to change his name to "Rogers". Neither of my parents were able to teach me their native languages because their parents refused to teach them in an effort to avoid the stigmatizm of the day. I've always regretted that.

I wonder when Krikorian's parents arrived on our shores? Would he have wanted them to change THEIR surnames? I rather doubt it.

BTW, has Krikorian forgotten that Puerto Rico is an American Territory?

Posted by: mrspeel on May 28, 2009 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

We musn't be too hard on him, after all, he's from the much oppressed group that cannot pronounce the phrase "Democratic Party."

Posted by: martin on May 28, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

And how should we pronounce "Limbaugh"?

It's "DUMB-shit." Emphasis on the first syllable.

Posted by: Andre on May 28, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Most Americans"? Raise your hand if you share Krikorian's concern that there isn't enough Anglo-conformity.

Of course, I would say that. Not being a monoglot myself, the existence of languages other than English does not terrify me.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on May 28, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

"While in the past there may well have been too much social pressure for what sociologists call Anglo-conformity, now there isn't enough."

Sounds like he wants us to return to the good ol' days of slavery where the 'massa' got to name you or the good ol' days of jim crow.

Posted by: del on May 28, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Mark Krikorian, 2009: Unlike we do people with French names like Ross Perot, Polish names like Mike Krzyzewski, Jewish names like Elie Wiesel, we should deliberately mispronounce spanish-sounding names, just to show them who's boss.

Mark Krikorian, 2010: Durr...why'd we lose the hispanic vote again? Durr...

Another brilliant idea from the Party of Stupid (tm)

Posted by: steve s on May 28, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

The argument seems to be that we should never, ever pronounce a name by placing emphasis on the last syllable of that name. So tell me, Republicans: how in the "frank-underdog-charlie-kangaroo" did you ever figure out how to pronounce "MCCAIN"?!?

Posted by: S. Waybright on May 28, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

While in the past there may well have been too much social pressure for what sociologists call Anglo-conformity -- I agree that northern Europeans shouldn't have been asked to shorten or change their beautiful names -- now there isn't enough pressure on spics from south of the border to drop the fucking Spanish already.

Posted by: Cry Korean on May 28, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe his cable carrier replaced Spike with Telemundo and he's still pissed about it.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on May 28, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

What about conservative favorite Paul Gigot? Shall we pronounce it in the American way - to rhyme with "pigout."

Posted by: Virginia on May 28, 2009 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm having trouble pronouncing Krikorian's first name. Does the emphasis go on "butt" or "head" ??

Posted by: a different phil on May 28, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

"[F]or those actually interested in the point, here's what I was trying to get across: While in the past there may well have been too much social pressure for what sociologists call Anglo-conformity, now there isn't enough."

Nothing like a guy named "Krikorian" lecturing people about how they need to have more Anglo names. Maybe we need to buy him a globe since he seems to be under the impression that Armenia is part of the United Kingdom.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 28, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

While in the past there may well have been too much social pressure for what sociologists call Anglo-conformity, now there isn't enough.

Finger on the pulse!

I think that's a concern that most Americans share at some level, which is the root of the angst over excessive immigration, bilingual education, official English, etc.

Tellingly, the only people who really have this "angst" are Republicans. And they are losing, marginalizing and dying. Nice work Armenian Terrorist!

Posted by: Jay B. on May 28, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Crackwhoren should STFU

Posted by: Patrick on May 28, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Maddow should have him on to explain his point, and the whole time she should call him "Mark Krik'-o-re-un". If he objects, tell him he needs to assimilate more.

Posted by: steve s on May 28, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Cazart is on to something.

I used to wonder why conservatives hate pot. Pot makes you slow and childlike enough that everything is novel and interesting. That crack in the wall...the way a plastic bag moves...the sound of a single note from Jimi's guitar--all downright fascinating!

But what sets the conservative apart is FEAR. To be conservative is to fear change. And after even the dimmest among them learns somewhere around age 3 that change is inevitable, that fear becomes paranoia. They build walls of comforting familiarity about them, bristling about with defenses against the strange.

And of course, when you smoke weed, everything gets a bit strange. Hence the knee-jerk loathing of all mind-altering substances (save alcohol, which merely reconfirms one in one's prejudices with added belligerence).

And likewise, when some filthy Spaniard insists on saying sotomaYOR within their sanctified earshot, those walls start teetering and Life As They Know It is threatened. The only hope is to slather on the mortar of Tradition (We speak 'merican!! It's a Christian nation!), and to place unbridled power in the hands of Dick Cheney and his ilk.

The five-deferment 'chickenhawk' leadership phenomenon is thus also explained: Cheney, with zero real combat experience, is the spiritual proxy to a nation of bedwetting armchair warriors. With absolute authority, with no exposure and no accountability, and with none of the wisdom and restraint brought on by actual experience, the Commander Chickenhawk figure becomes the ideal free agent for implementing all the bellicose fantasies they'd never have the guts to try themselves...using someone else's kids and everyone else's tax money, naturally.

Posted by: Lionel Hutz, attorney-at-law on May 28, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing like a guy named "Krikorian" lecturing people about how they need to have more Anglo names.

Don't think for a minute that I'm defending this asshat, but he's not arguing that people should have "more Anglo names." He's claiming that Sotomayor and her supporters should be just as cool as he is with having her name mispronounced in the "natural" American way.

The problem is that we can't seem to find an example of him being offended by a non-Hispanic person asking to have his or her name correctly pronounced. And, of course, Krikorian seems to be under the impression that the Sotomayors, Puerto Ricans and Spanish speakers in general are "newcomers" to the U.S.

Posted by: shortstop on May 28, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I spent four years living in Spain and they didn't give a damn about learning how to pronounce my name the way it should be pronounced in English.

This whole thing translation hub-bub is, of course, beside the point. You gotta talk about something in today's media, which runs 24-7.

Posted by: 3WolfMoon on May 28, 2009 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

He's claiming that Sotomayor and her supporters should be just as cool as he is with having her name mispronounced in the "natural" American way.

If that's the case, what the heck part of the country does he live in that "mayor" is pronounced "myer"? If he's in New York, I'm pretty sure no one talks about "Myer Bloomberg" being the leader of their city.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 28, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Putting aside the name-pronounciation issues for a moment, can we take notice of the weirdness of calling a _Puerto Rican_ a "newcomer" to the country???

Posted by: James Williams on May 28, 2009 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Anglo-conformity" have you ever heard a more ethno-centric persuasion? What a naive bigot! Mr. Krikidiotrian, Mohandas Gandhi has already proved one does not need to be lily white to embrace the ideals of the European Enlightenment we all value as dear to our identities. What do you mean, "Anglo-conformity?" Anti-tanning booths? -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 28, 2009 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

"How does he THINK we should pronounce 'Sotomayor'?"

Apparently, Mr. Krikorian actually did give an answer to that question - he seems to believe it should have the "natural English" pronunciation of "SO-tuh-my-er" - to scan, he sez, with that good old Yankee handle of "Niedermeyer". I swear.

What a maroon: I wonder how pissed-off he'd be if everyone started giving his name its "natural" pronunciation of "crike-o-RYAN"? Dolt.

Posted by: Jay C on May 28, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Having never heard Krikorian's name on television, I don't know how to say it. I tried to email him about the pronunciation, but there was naturally a "server error". If Krikorian can't tell us how to pronounce his non-English name, then why is he saying we can't pronounce "Sotomayor" correctly? As it is, I'll just Anglicize his name to "Crick." And hey, my Scottish name was changed by the British, his name should be too. Somehow, "MacDaniel" was changed to "Foster." They sound so similar, don't they? When I change his name to "Crick," I'm being far more generous than the British ever were to my family.

Posted by: fostert on May 28, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

By golly, I believe I actually deciphered his meaning the first time.

Posted by: CDW on May 28, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

mrspeel -- you're a Portugese-Finnish American? I'm an Italo-Finnish American and I thought I was weird. Well, I am, actually, entirely apart from my being Italo-Finnish. If we pool our forces and deliver our combined ethnic voting blocs, imagine the political pay-offs we can aspire to.

Posted by: CJColucci on May 28, 2009 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

How's about we let the person who is the child of people who were born American citizens decide how she wants her name pronounced, instead of immigrants like Mr. Cry-Korean? It's pretty ridiculous for him to be lecturing her on how to Americanize her name.

Posted by: biggerbox on May 28, 2009 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Krikorian probably should have quit while he was a horse's behind.

Fixed.

Posted by: doubtful on May 28, 2009 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives want us to pronounce names like Veccio as "Veckio", names like Breaux as "Brohks" etc ...

Posted by: Neil B ♣ on May 28, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

'Krikorian added that "newcomers" should "adapt" to how "countrymen say your name."'

Then why don't Southerners adapt to speaking the same way as the rest of their countrymen, instead of using that ridiculous accent ?

Posted by: H-Bob on May 28, 2009 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Oddly enough, I'm sure he pronounces Beau (as in Beau and Luke Duke) "bee-ow".

Perhaps if she shortened her name to 4 letters, that would make it easier for him to pronounce. Is that why Bush won?

Do they think Americans are too stupid to learn how to pronounce a Supreme Court Justice's name properly? Evidently. If I were the Republican base, I would be insulted.

Posted by: Always Hopeful on May 28, 2009 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think that's a concern that most Americans share at some level, which is the root of the angst over excessive immigration, bilingual education, official English, etc.

These are mostly white morons who are threatened that their status as White People Who Are "On Top" (as a result of the accident of their birth) is threatened. The sad thing is that many of them - like Kirkorian - come from immigrant groups that were earlier looked down on (Irish, Italian, Polish, Armenian, etc.) in exactly the same way they are "looking down" at Latino immigrants. Many of Krikorian's fellow righty Republicans have, over the past 25 years, moved out of Glendale, California, as it has been taken over by "those Armos".

BTW - how do you say "Krikorian" in Anglo English???? "Krik-or-ee-yaan"? "Krik-or-yun"??? "Kri-KOR-ee-yun"? Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted by: TCinLA on May 29, 2009 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Putting aside the name-pronunciation issues for a moment, can we take notice of the weirdness of calling a _Puerto Rican_ a "newcomer" to the country???

Depends on whether you think 1898 is "recent" or not, since that's when we stole the place from the Spanish. Of course, the Spanish came to what is now the U.S.A. at least a century before the Anglos showed up in 1607, to say nothing of the Native Americans (who got here around 12,000 B.C.), so if anyone should be conforming his or her name to the "norm," it should be the invaders who showed up late and then exterminated the original inhabitants.

Posted by: Basharov on May 29, 2009 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

I just don't get it. If you have trouble saying the name properly, don't worry about it- say it however you can. I imagine she's used to people mispronouncing her name, and I can't imagine she'd make that big a deal out of it. That's multiculturalism- you will interact with people of different cultures who might not know how the other side does things. Generally, though, people are understanding as long as you're not rude about it. So don't worry about it. Say it whatever way you want, but you don't need to try to bring everyone else along with you- what's the point?

Posted by: Jurgan on May 29, 2009 at 6:37 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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