So many cities in the United States have names from languages other than English. Native American languages gave us Chicago, Milwaukee, Omaha. Plenty of cities, big and small, with Spanish names -- San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tornillo. And the French graced us with Lafayette, Des Moines, Baton Rouge. Most newscasters anglicize these names, which I find slightly annoying but doesn’t beget any action beyond a few moments of ranting.
But. There. Are. Limits.
Lately I can’t stop yelling at my radio about the mispronunciation of the Mexican border town of Tia-Wanna, Aaarrghhhhh, it's like nails on chalkboard.
It’s Ti-Juana, Ti-Juana, there is no “UH” between Ti and Juana!
With 24/7 news coverage about the “fake” border crisis, I hear Tia-Wanna countless times a day.
I suppose we can blame Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass for making this city a household name back in the 1960s. Those of us “d’un certain âge,” remember Herb Alpert and his band fondly.
Never heard of him? Well here you go, taken from his website: http://www.herbalpert.com/
Creator and innovator, musician and producer, artist, and philanthropist, Herb Alpert is a man with a profound passion. Born in Los Angeles, the future trumpeter came of age in a house filled with music. At the age of eight, he was drawn to the trumpet in a music appreciation class in his elementary school.
“I was very fortunate that I had that exposure to music and was encouraged to stick with it. Years ago, when the arts programs were cut out of our public schools, so many kids stopped having that kind of opportunity.”
A legendary trumpet player, Alpert’s extraordinary musicianship has earned him five #1 hits, nine GRAMMY® Awards, fifteen Gold albums, fourteen Platinum albums and has sold over 72 million records. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass propelled his sound into the pop music limelight, at one point outselling the Beatles two to one.
In 1966, they achieved the since-unmatched feat of simultaneously having four albums in the Top 10 and five in the Top 20. Herb Alpert also has the distinction of being the only artist who has had a #1 instrumental and vocal single.
Beyond his musical talents, Alpert is also a respected abstract expressionist painter and sculptor. There’s a whole separate website just for his visual art, click here.
His wife, Lani Hall Alpert (herself a Grammy-winning vocalist) is a published author of fiction and non-fiction. More about her interesting work here.
Dayenu, I say to myself as I read about this power couple’s accomplishments. But on top of all this, they shine in another front: as philanthropists. Their foundation has donated upwards of $160 million, including $10 million to LA Community Colleges for music education.
It made my heart soar to read about their talents and generosity. Time permitting, you’ll be inspired by this interview in Forbes with Alpert about their philanthropic work.
What an antidote to people in the current news, particularly those associated with the Trump Administration, whose wealth has been used to beget more personal wealth by whatever means necessary, including mendacity of breathtaking proportions.
But back to my original rant about the mispronunciation of Tia-Wanna.
So after yelling at my car radio, yesterday morning, I decided that newscasters would definitely continue saying Tia-Wanna unless someone brings this problem to their attention. I emailed the editors of California Report as the most recent offender was a reporter from KQED’s California desk, and informed them of the issue, and requested reporters to get the name right.
I haven’t yet heard back from them (it's only been a day). I would encourage anyone who find this annoying to put in your .02 worth and ask that more attention be paid to pronunciation of Spanish names, like Tijuana. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org. It takes just a couple of minutes to send off an email, or make a call to California Report's senior staff: Ingrid Becker, Senior Producer 415.553.2404 and Senior Editor, Victoria Mauleon 415.553.2477.
I am well aware that there are many folks who really don't care, or even if you do, why bother? I get that we are all plenty busy . . . but me . . . I just can't stay quiet.
Ps: My one-woman show, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? is still on stage, Saturdays at 5 pm, only through January 26 at the San Francisco Marsh Theater. Hope to see you there if you live in the SF Bay Area.
Tickets and information about post-show speakers at themarsh.org/mispronounce-my-name/irma-herrera/.