Pronunciation vote

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Sep 11 17:51:53 UTC 2003

>>From the New York Times, September 9, 2003

In California, Davis and Schwarzenegger Split the Pronunciation


   LOS ANGELES, Sept. 8 Gray Davis, the embattled governor of California,
is getting an unwanted lesson in speech pathology. Namely, how difficult
it is to say you're sorry with your foot in your mouth. On Saturday,
during a union rally, Governor Davis took a swipe at the chunky Austrian
accent of his Republican rival, the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "You
shouldn't be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state," Mr.
Davis wisecracked to a supporter, according to a report in The Sacramento

The comment has caused a stir in a state that is home to nine million
immigrants, many of whom support Mr. Davis, a Democrat. The governor,
asked to explain himself Sunday after the Mexican Independence Day parade
in East Los Angeles, said, "I was just joking around with someone in the
crowd." Still, he has not issued an apology and his wife, Sharon, said on
television this morning that Mr. Schwarzenegger should just take it as a
joke and move on.

Mr. Schwarzenegger was also supposed to attend the parade as grand
marshal, but the invitation was withdrawn at the request of some prominent
Democrats who believe he is hostile toward illegal immigrants. Speaking
instead at a youth awards ceremony in a Latino neighborhood on Sunday, Mr.
Schwarzenegger turned Mr. Davis's remarks to his advantage. "He doesn't
like the way I say the word California because I say Cal-ee-fornia rather
than Cal-a-fornia," Mr. Schwarzenegger said. "But there's many other words
that he doesn't like. Lost jobs he doesn't like that word. He doesn't like
blackout. He doesn't like energy crisis. And he definitely doesn't like
recall. So those are words that he just doesn't like, you know."

Actually, Mr. Schwarzenegger enunciates the word California more closely
to its true Spanish root than does Mr. Davis, a native New Yorker, who
uses the Anglicized version. While Mr. Schwarzenegger did not call for an
apology, the state Republicans did.

"Gray Davis owes every Californian an apology for his insensitive remarks
about immigrants who come to this country speaking with an accent," said
Mario Rodriguez, vice chairman of the California Republican Party. "It is
preposterous to suggest that nonnative English speakers and those with
accents are unqualified to lead our state." Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the
grandson of Mexican immigrants, felt it was better today to say nothing
than defend Mr. Davis.

The bilingual Mr. Bustamante, who says he will vote no on the recall and
yes for himself as the replacement governor, has in recent appearances
spoken like a man who wants Mr. Davis's job. "I need your vote for
governor," Mr. Bustamante told a hometown crowd in Fresno on Sunday. He
has also at times criticized the governor's leadership abilities.

For the record, Mr. Bustamante pronounces it Cal-a-fornia when speaking
English and Cal-ee-for-nee-a when speaking Spanish.

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list