Don’t Cry for Me, Arhentina

One of the NPR reporters I hear all the time is Lourdes Garcia-Navarro. Her stories are always good — but there’s one thing that drives me batty: her meticulously correct pronunciation of Spanish words and names.

Her textbook pronunciations are mildly irksome, but when I heard Argentina come out of her mouth as Ar-hen-tina, I nearly choked on my Cheerios. Yes, she said Ar-hen-tina — not fifteen seconds after Steve Inskeep said Argentina in the intro.

Even more maddening, later in the story she uses the word Argentines with the normal English pronunciation. Why wouldn’t they be Ar-hen-tines?

You may think this is intolerant, but I’m speaking strictly in terms of good broadcasting.

For years, the BBC has had a pronunciation unit that sets rules on how its news presenters should say the names of people and places. Here in the US, the AP sends out pronunciation guides every day to help newscasters.

In America, radio and TV news operations should try to use standard American English pronunciations.  It may be more accurate to say Arhentina, but it’s distracting —  and it sounds terribly pretentious.

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