OK

Exhibit A: Mark Krikorian's attack on Sotomayor.

It's sad Republicans have been reduced to playing the theater of the absurd in their never-ending efforts to whip up xenophobia.  It's also ironic the word for that is derived from Greek words ξένος (xenos) and φόβος (phobos), but that's another story.  

For this theatrical ploy to work, they need to create a straw man.  That enables them to whip folks into a frenzy yet remain confident of victory.  When Reagan played this game he took on the metric system.  Unfortunately, Reagan was so successful Bush needed to find a brand new target... so he did battle with English.  Unfortunately Dubya was so successful, Kirkorian now has to attack foreigners for speaking their own language.  However, if we followed Kirkorion's advice things would run amok (that's a Malaysian word).  

When Krackwhorian decides to deride a Spanish surname, it would help if he actually spoke it.  Then he would know Spanish orthography is famous for its  consistent rules of pronunciation.  

For example, all the vowels are pronounced one way and one way only.  The vowel "a" is pronounced "ah", "e" is pronounced "ay", "i" is pronounced "ee", "o" is pronounced "oh", and "u" is pronounced "eww" as in "eww that's nasty!"  I will ignore "y" because we don't need it, that's why.  Anyone who has tried to learn English or Amurkin knows how maddening it can be to see that "a" can be pronounced one way for "bag" and another way for "bagel" and a completely different way for "bar".  

Of course, a major selling point of English is we don't waste time with those crazy accent marks, but that is a false promise.  Without the accents, you never know which syllable gets emphasized.  According to Krockorian, that's not a big deal because Amurkins are in too much of a hurry to get things done, they are not going to dawdle and put their emphasis on the last syllable of a polysyllabic word, no way.  

In fact, he's emPHAtic.  We NEver EMphasize the last SYLlable.  It's unNATural.  He claims that is a METHod of proNUNciation we NEver emPLOY..... ooops.  

Ok, who cares if he's not right?  It's English!  There's an exception to every rule.  But here's the rub:  Spanish uses those accents to let you know when to break the rules of emphasis.  That's right.  Unlike English, Spanish has strict rules about which syllable gets emphasized.  There are only three rules, and as long as you follow them you don't need no stinkin' accents.  If you want to break the rules, go ahead.  Just be sure you tell the reader what's going on and put the accent over the syllable you WANT them to emphasize.  This consistency has a major virtue.  A person reading Spanish can encounter a word they have never seen before, but armed with the rules of vowel pronunciation and syllabic emphasis, you can always figure out how to pronounce the word.  It's called orthography, look it up.

I won't go into all the three rules.  If you are interested in the details of this aspect of Spanish orthography, you can look them up (hint: search for agudas, llanas, and esdrújulas).

Suffice to say, Sotomayor is a polysyllabic word that ends in a consonent that is neither an n or an s.  According to the rules that makes it an "aguda" which puts the emphasis on the last syllable -- ALWAYS.  If we follow Korkyourwhinin's logic, however, we would put the emphasis on some other syllable and that would require an ACCENT mark -- which we don't have in English!   See what happens when xenophobia runs amok?  

UPDATE:  Some people may be confused on the proper pronunciation of Krikorian's name -- especially given all the variable spellings.  I think the proper pronunciation is provided in otto's comment

Originally posted to henry porter on Wed May 27, 2009 at 07:14 PM PDT.

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