Now Playing: "I Got You" by the Split Enz
In the course of my professional duties last night, I had occasion to speak to a woman named Irene Terrazas (which may mean "peace on Earth" somehow). She is apparently a nice Mexican-American lady who is in a transitional state with me and everyone else this side of the Rio Grande/cultural divide. That is to say, when I asked her to pronounce her surname (repeatedly, because I did not understand it the first couple of times), she launches into the well-known "news anchor accent" mode by trilling out them R's like a jackpotting slot-machine. Terrrrah-sas, Terrrrah-sas...
Well, guess what. I think that's a silly thing to do. You, of course, will think me a close-minded, culturally-insensitive bigot, but hear me out: Irene says her given name (what they used to call a Christian name before the ACLU and the Communist menace, generally, showed up) just like anyone in, say, Iowa would: Eye-reen. Just as American as mom and apple pie. But with Terrazas? No. She's still gotta own every tongue-flicking millisecond of them R's so that Gringo McCrackerputty can't get next to her at the party. Get it? It's a matter of cultural resistance, unconscious or not, but that's what it is. And I say that sucks. Wanna know why? 'Cause you KNOW my great-grandpa Henry (whom they called Heinrich until, well, YOU know...) was saying Petzold a HELL of a lot differently than me. He probably put a big old T-sound on the end of my kraut-given surname and did a few other things with it, too, that wouldn't occur to ME. Why? 'cause by the time Petzold got to me, we had buffed the edges off a little so that the other folks around town could have a fair chance at being able to pronounce it well enough to communicate who we were. And, to this day, a Z in your surname will send half the American population into a tailspin of enunciative discomfort and incompetence. People have such godawful trouble with my bisyllabic, relatively-easy-to-pronounce German surname that it has caused one of my siblings to permanently pronounce it with the use of a joy-buzzer. It's ridiculous.
So, Irene Terrazas, I'm glad you're here. But let that trilling shit go. Your surname isn't so rare that an educated man can't figure it out if it just weren't so damned elaborate y liquefrou-frou.