It’s surprising how names which are perfectly familiar become completely unrecognisable once a foreign accent gets hold of them. Today I was listening to a radio phone interview with an American artist living in Granada whose Spanish was good enough to make herself clearly understood but she stuggled a little bit here and there. Interestingly though, the one question she just couldn’t get was the one that mentioned where she came from – Pennsylvania – pronounced a Spanish accent. It went like this: “Parece que vienes de Pensilvania ¿verdad?” Silence, followed by -“Perdón, puedes hablar más alto”. “Estaba diciendo – ¿Qué hace una chica de Pensilvania en Granada?” Silence. Third attempt – “Eres de Pensilvania”. Reply “sí” (although actually I think she still didn’t understand him).
It reminded me an occasion when I was asked, also on a radio programme, how the name “Kylie Minogue” should be pronounced. The question sounded like “Dee Keelay Minogay” (please excuse Spanglish spelling). I just looked at the interviewer in horror. I had no idea what he was asking me. When I eventually said “Oh Kylie Minogue!” They all rolled round laughing. This language thing is much more than learning new words!!!