Juan Antonio Samaranch, the Spanish chairman of the International Olympic Committee, testified before Congress this week about his organization's efforts to eliminate corruption. American TV and radio reporters pronounced his name in various ways, including "Sa-ma-rang," "Sa-ma-rahnd," "Sa-ma-rahn," and "Sa-ma-ranch." Which one is correct?
"Sa-ma-ranch." The name is pronounced with roughly even emphasis on each syllable, and the r is rolled. The ch combination is pronounced in Spanish just as it is in English, even in those rare cases when it's at the end of a word. Broadcasters who aim to be sensitive to foreign pronunciations may think the harsh ch of "Samaranch" sounds distinctly American, since so many English words end in that combination. But in trying to avoid butchering the name, they end up doing precisely that.
After this article was posted, a few diligent readers wrote to inform Explainer that Samaranch is a Catalan, not Spanish, name. Click here to learn how this affects the pronunciation.
Explainer thanks Slate reader Raymond Chen for suggesting this topic.