Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Gracias, Jose Padilla
Until there was a terrorist named Jose Padilla, there seemed to be an language barrier with my last name.
Growing up I had a lot of folks think I was Italian until they encountered our family. Not really sure what made them change their minds.
The pronunciation outside of family ties was always /puh DILL uh/. There was always a polite apology for messing up the pronunciation since it was such an uncommon name. I thought this was a decent excuse until I made the connection with strangers in NYC when we visited relatives who pronounced our name without any issues whatsoever. And some of these people were even born Spanishly-challanged.
In High school I concocted a clever retort and asked if anyone ever ordered a /tore TILL uh/ at Taco Bell. Invariably my peers giggled as if that was the most stupid thing they ever heard. I thought the stupidest thing I ever heard was an excuse to botch my name and yet have an A+ aptitude to order the foodstuff.
Padilla and tortilla are not so far apart in pronunciation, you see.
Fast forward 12 years: June 14, 2002. The news is ablaze with a terrorist and the commentators are flopping in pronunciation like a ritalin-filled 5th grader during the afternoon cartoons. Within the same conversation the name is pronounced with a more Iberian flair and a more accessible Midwestern affect. It hurt most to hear Ray Suarez of the News Hour (Lehrer Report) go back and forth. That man should KNOW better.
For me it's upsetting. I don't want to claim Mr. Padilla, but it IS a matter of principal. If you can order the dish at Taco Bell, you can respect a person's name.
Thank you, Mr. Dirty-Bomb guy. Thank you for starting the dialog.
Today I heard it right, at least more consistently.