by George … Jorge … I think they’ve got it!

December 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

Henry Higgins (played by Rex Harrison) in My Fair Lady tried and tried to get Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) to “correctly” pronounce the vowels in the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain. If you saw the movie, you know that she ultimately did pronounce the vowels to Higgins’ satisfaction. So satisfied, in fact, that he exclaimed, “By George, I think she’s got!”, and then the two broke into song.
Well, I’ve been listening to TV 3 ads for Survivor Nicaragua for a number of weeks now and, by George, I think they’ve got it! The first few times TV 3 advertised the show, the announcer’s pronunciation of Nicaragua was a very un-Spanish like five-syllable structure: “Ni-ca-RAG-GYU-a.” .
This rang wrong in my ears because, growing up in California, I was used to hearing Nicaragua pronounced more like the four-syllable “Ni-ca-RAH-gwa.” I’m sure that my reaction to “Ni-ca-RAG-GYU-a” was similar to New Zealanders’ reactions to the first few times I uttered Samoa as “Sa-MOW-a”, with emphasis and weight on the second syllable, instead of the more accurate “SAH-mo-a”, with a long vowel in the first syllableJust as it took me a while to say Samoa with a more appropriate pronunciation, the TV 3 announcer’s pronunciation of Nicaragua has slowly changed. It has followed a path, which I have heard as something like this: “Ni-ca-RAG-GYU-a” to “Ni-ca-RAG-gyu-a” to “Ni-ca-RAH-gyu-a” and finally “Ni-ca-RAH-gwa”.
It would be interesting to know what initiated the change in pronunciation. Viewer complaints that were perhaps followed by a network email or memo to the announcer? The network’s own recognition of how contestants and others on the show pronounce the name? Something else?

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§ One Response to by George … Jorge … I think they’ve got it!

  • Steph P says:

    I’ve agitated my flatties a number of times by proclaiming to the tv that it should be “Ni-ca-ra-gwa” – if you’ve been following the program you’ll notice that host Jeff Probst also pronunces it the way our tv announcer was originally saying it – it was super obvious particulary in the final of the previous season as he announced the location of the next season a billion times during the reunion show. As far as I know, the contestants themselves don’t really say the word…

    I just assumed that it was a similar deal to the way some Kiwis pronunce Maori words in their own way. It would be cool to find out though how the announcer came to change his pronunciation.

    I know that if I don’t really know how to say a word I will say it differently each time I say it to different people (always hesitantly) and try to gauge a reaction to it… maybe that had something to do with it!

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