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?