a wandering woman writes

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Aguda, and proud

This must be a milestone.

Last week for the first time during four years in Spain, I received an e-mail with my name written with an accent mark.

It was written as one would write it in Spanish, if we pronounced it as the 1 in 100 Spaniards who even dare to make the attempt do.

Estimada Sr. Corcorán, read the opening line.

I'm always Sr. Corcoran to people reading Erin for the first time so I happily let that slide. But my eye fixed on Corcorán. Corcorán.

Nice, huh? And correct if we think about it.

Spanish has admirably fixed rules for placing accent marks in words. It's all based on which syllable is stressed. And so, if I said my name as I would in the States, COR-cor-an, with the accent on the first syllable, well, I'd be a woman living under an esdrújula, and I'd need an accent mark up front.

Córcoran.

If I said my name as most Spaniards do, cor-cor-AN, I'd have to call myself aguda and place an accent on that last syllable, as my friendly correspondent did.

Erin Corcorán.

I like it. And it really might take away the fright at pronouncing my name.

Without an accent mark, you see, my moniker is a type of word known as grave - far too serious a label for me - and is pronounced with the accent on the middle syllable: cor-COR-an. Many Spaniards read the accentless name I scribble and type everywhere I go - Corcoran - and they stumble, sensing this odd beast must be cor-COR-an while at the same time finding that pronunciation as awkward and unlikely as I do.

After four years, one finicky española has given me a darn good way to get my name spoken aloud. To be listed as more than simply "Erin" in the database at my hair salon, at the grocery store, at the dry cleaners. After all, another Erin may just invade Salamanca one of these days.

Corcorán.
Erin Corcorán.
I like it.
I hereby pronounce myself aguda, and proud.

5 Comments:

  • Funny!
    Once somebody called home asking for Arcadión and I laught so much that he politely repeated the same then I realised he was talking seriously. But it was so funny, my brother´s name is Arcadio!

    By Blogger Nomadita, at 10:35 PM  

  • Hi Wandering Woman!

    I am also an expat living and working in Spain... in my case, a Canadian in Barcelona. I have read, with great interest, your story of walking the Camino, something I would very much like to do.

    You can visit me over at Teacher Meets World at http://teachermeetsworld.blogspot.com/

    I would love for us to link to each other's sites.

    Cheers,
    Teacher Girl

    By Blogger Teacher Girl, at 7:07 PM  

  • Jeje, Nomadita, that sounds like Accordian, poor Arcadio. Accordian.

    Hello Teacher Girl and welcome!! Sorry not to have made it over here sooner. I am running out the door to escape reality in Extremadura for a few days and will check out your blog and link us up from this end when I get back! Thanks for coming by to comment.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 3:13 PM  

  • Erin,
    Perhaps a little late to comment on your post about your 'new' apellido back on March 9th but I just wanted to say that, lacking as I am in lingustic skills, it was one of the most appealing and intelligence things I have read on the internet for a very long time.
    Daniel

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:55 AM  

  • Hi Daniel!
    And wow, thank you, what a compliment!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 4:16 PM  

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