Two bits of housekeeping before Pet Peeve time.
First: Thoughts and prayers for the people of Puerto Rico. Two devastating disasters in five years – the mind reels.
Second: It’s generally good manners to try to pronounce names and places relatively close to their linguistic originals. It’s why “Beethoven” and “Bach” are proncounced “BAY-to-ven” and “BAKH”, rather than BEE-Thoh-vun” and “BATCH”.
But now that there’s a big story in a Hispanic country, it’s time for National Public Radio reporters to indulge their most annoying affectation.
During standard NPR newscasts, we get a steady diet of reporters and anchors with otherwise traditional “Public Radio accents” – mild-mannered, neutral and and unobtrusive in a way that still bespeaks upper-middle-class roots, the sound of an Oberlin College graduate who interned in DC – abruptly switching out of their public radio lack-of-brogue to wrap their tongues around words like “PWAIR-toh RRRREEEE-koh”, rolling the “R” like Ricardo Montalban in his prime, dare I say *appropriating* a Puerto Rican via “West Side Story” accent …
…and then back to the NPR accent.
And for some reason, it’s ONLY Latino words (or the occasional South Asian one like “POCK-ee-stawn”) that prompts this affectation.
You never hear:
- OAH-zhlo NOR-guh
- STOK-holm SVAIR-ee-guh
- Bair-LEEN, BOON-des-re-poo-bleek DOYCH-land
- MOSK-vah ROSS-ee-ya
- TOH-kio NEE-hon
- Var-SHAH-vah Po-LOH-nya”
- Or, these days, most of all, “KHYIV, Ooo-KHRAI-nah”.
Pick one affectation and stick with it, I say.
SNL did in fact nail it, back when SNL was still capable of nailing, well, anything:
 One exception to the peeve – the reporters who are actually Puerto Rican or at least Latino, who manage to pull off the “NPR Accent” until it comes time to pronounce something Hispanic. No reason for them to dumb down their own language.