The Corner

Re: My Name is Fronkensteen!

I, too, have long found it tedious to see politicians and commentators preen in front of cameras and microphones to flip their rs and flatten their as. It’s a prissy pretense, a way to curry favor with certain aggrieved groups but never a consistent rule of pronunciation. For example, during the presidential campaign, Obama made sure to say Pahk-ee-stahn at every opportunity, but I never heard him say Ahf-ghahn-ee-stahn. He never said Frahns, or Deutschland, or Rus, or even Keh-bec. It would sound silly.

Anglicizing foreign names while speaking in English isn’t just a practical necessity and a sign of good manners (yes, that’s right). As others have said, it’s a habit that helps to bind together people of diverse backgrounds. I’m not just talking about the recent past. Let’s just be clear here: If the new rule is that it is disrespectful to pronounce proper names in any way other than how the natives say it, then I’m putting all Yankees, Midwesterners, and pedants on notice that I will be outraged if my first name is not henceforth pronounced with both syllables.


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