I took an extra year in Spanish in high school because I loved my teacher.
He was a former Army guy, ascerbic but witty, coach of the junior varsity boys’ basketball team and to correct my behavior would have me stand in a corner and contemplate the “transcendental dot of meditation” (though still requiring me to read my vocabulary assignment aloud like the rest of the class).
He also kept a container on his desk labeled “Potted Possum.” He loved perpetuating the naive belief among students that it was real.
In the end, I have to thank him, because he taught me valuable life lessons about how to deal with difficult people (meaning me) and helped test me out of foreign language in college (though I can’t say the same about having take remedial math).
In any case, I find today, almost two decades later, that his legacy continues.
I wish I could say that it meant I could speak fluent Spanish. I can’t, though I can generally make out basic written communication.
What I’m certainly left with is the ability to pronounce Spanish words.
When I read the name “Roberto” out loud, I say, “Roe-BARE-tow,” instead of “Ruh-bur-tow.”
I’m sure Roberto appreciates that.
But ancillary legacy is pronouncing English words – or in many cases, Americanized proper names for companies — as if they were Spanish words.
I just can’t help it in my mind when I read the sponsor name – an insurance company – given to the Seattle Mariners’ professional baseball stadium.
It’s “SAFE-coe.” And that’s the way I say it out loud.
But I doubt there will ever come a time when I don’t hear it in my head as “Sah-FAY-coe.”
Thanks, Coach McIntyre!