On names, changing them, and pronunciation

Otter Perry ottertee at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 5 08:45:13 EST 2003



Charles Butler wrote:

> And that in turn links back nicely to a pronunciation/name changing obDWJ.
> How do people in the States pronounce the name of the eponymous villain in
> 'Aunt Maria'? When it was published as 'Black Maria' in the UK the name
> punned on the nickname for the old black police vans known as Black Marias
> (pronounced so as to rhyme with 'liars'). Following that cue I always
> pronounced Maria in the same way - which I think of as the more
> old-fashioned way, as is appropriate for the character. But I don't know how
> well-known the term Black Maria is in the States, and in any case for PC
> reasons it was published there (and maybe elsewhere too?) under a different
> name. So perhaps there it's pronounced to rhyme with 'Dutiful Farseer'?
> 
> Any information on this momentous issue-for-our-times gratefully received.

I'm assuming you mean the USofA by 'the States'?  It's just that Mexico is
a United States as well.  Well, you're the one who mentioned being PC ...

Speaking as someone born and raised in the USofA, I have the following
comments:

1.  One of the most amusing things about pronunciatian in the UK is that
tendency to add 'r's where there are none.  So here in the USofA, e.g.,
we say 'law' not 'lore', and 'ma-RI-ahs' not 'ma-RI-ars'.

2.  Black Maria is perfectly well-known to _me_, but then I'm disgustingly
well-read.

3.  In answer to your question, some would say 'ma-RI-ah' and some would
say 'ma-REE-ah'.  I say 'ma-RI-ah' for the title of this book, but 
otherwise it depends.  The Maria is 'ave Maria' is ma-REE-ah, and
generally people named Maria pronounce it that way.  In the song 
'they call the wind Maria', it's very definitely 'ma-RI-ah'.  But
the name of one of Columbus's ships is the 'santa ma-REE-ah'.
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