Most Italians cringe - and many expats just hold their tongues - when hearing Americans butcher cappuccino (CUP-oo-cheeno not CAP-a-cheeno), gnocchi (NYO-KEY, not GA-knock-ee), cringing all the more when they see their guests order that cappuccino after their rich gnocchi alla sorrentina dinner. And, I've seen plenty of blogs and articles around the web discussing fun words of the day, Italian expressions which tickle us pink, and other such word plays. But today, I'd like to go back a few steps. To basic pronunciation. Of basic names.
Try saying this out loud: STEPHANIE
Granted, it's probably an outdated name, in a new world of Gen-Ys of Isabellas, Morgans, Tylers, and what have you.
But, try saying it anyway.
That's right, you got it. STEH-fa-knee
Now, take a deep breath, and say this: STEFANO
No, it's not steh-FAH-no.
It's - incredible but true - just like Stephanie, above. But the word is STEH-fa-no.
So, why is it, that anyone with that name, upon meeting any English speaker, never gets to hear their name pronounced correctly?
Which leads me to FIAT & Chrysler, and the man behind the driving wheel, Mr. Marchionne.
Love him or hate him (and in certain quarters he's about as controversial as Berlusconi or Barack Obama as they come)...
And, despite the fact that he's actually Canadian, no one in his English-speaking realm of influence can pronounce his name correctly.
Me, like everyone else, pure and simply call him: Mr. Marchioni.
Maybe it comes from maccaroni, I don't know. But, that's his name. And, whenever I'm engaged in heated debate with Italians over the future of FIAT (after all, I am a Detroiter)...I'm always stopped in mid-argument to get the name down correctly, before the quibble can go any further down the toilet.
So, repeat after me: mar-key-OHN-Nay
And, although his first name isn't Stefano (did you say it right?! That was a test) it's Sergio. Not Sir-joe, but Sayr-joe.
So, for future reference, please forward this post to the news media outlet of your choice.
Because it's making the Italians crazy.