Aguda, and proud
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.
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.
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.
I like it.
I hereby pronounce myself aguda, and proud.