National Review writer Mark Krikorian recently wrote about the pronunciation of President Barack Obama's Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor's name in his column, It Sticks in My Craw. Krikorian (who's own name we are still trying to figure out how pronounce) insists that Sotomayor should emphasize the first syllable of her name as "natural English pronunciation" would dictate, or as he says, "SO-tuh-my-er, like Niedermeyer", instead of the way her name is actually pronounced with an emphasis on the last vowel.
Names are very important. How many times as a Latina woman have you had to correct someone's pronunciation of your name? When I was six years old, a substitute teacher for my first grade class once told me that she was going to call me "Mary Ellen" because she didn't "understand" my name and "it was close enough." But it wasn't, not for me, unfortunately I was too young to explain to her why I was so upset. Our names are a fundamental part of our identities. We have the right to have them correctly pronounced. Even Krikorian agrees to a certain extent admitting that, "Deferring to people's own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination." But, he continues, "There ought to be limits."
All in all, Krikorian's misguided post reads as an example of what it really is: a xenophobic white man afraid of the rich diversity that makes our country so vibrant and unique. His fear becomes all too clear in the last few sentences of his rant when he says, "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."
Tell us: What do you think? Does Sotomayor have the right to a correct pronunciation of her name?