What do pros do ...?

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 17 21:13:40 UTC 2008

On Thu, Apr 17, 2008 at 4:47 PM, Charles Doyle <cdoyle at uga.edu> wrote:
> When I have taught the novel _The Color Purple_, my students evince disturbance at my pronunciation of the name of the character Sophia as [so fai @]; they insist on [so fi @] (perhaps thus in the Spielberg movie, which I haven't seen?). Last year, Sophia was one of the 3 or 4 most popular names being given to girl babies in the U.S., many of them (I assume) Hispanic--hence [so fi a].

Do you explain to them that that WAS (I'm assuming) the pronunciation
used in that time and population?

>  Has Americans' pervasive awareness of Spanish (even if only from _Westside Story_) or Italian influenced the shift of Maria from [m@ rai @] to [m@ ri @]? Do the Brits still say [m@ rai @]?

I was nine when West Side Story came to Broadway. AFAIR I never heard
[m@ 'rai @] till years later, except in the song "They Call the Wind
Maria" and in the British term "black Maria" = US "paddy wagon". So
whatever caused the shift -- assuming it WAS a shift, rather than
American adoption of the Romance pronunciation vs. UK spelling
pronunciation -- must have been long before that. Although I suppose
that the NYC region, where I grew up, could well have been more
subject to Spanish and Italian influence than many other parts of the

m a m

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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