Alex Massie

Department of Pronunciation

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A friend's wife was conducting a teacher training session in Anacostia, Washington DC the other day: 

"In one of the classes that she worked in there were two children with oddly spelled, and thus oddly pronounced, names.  Let's see if you can figure out how these names are pronounced

1) "Bukat"- hint, the child is a boy and is named after a famous African American of the late 19th century and early 20th century

2) "La-a"- this one is challenging...  The hyphen is part of the pronunciation.

I confess, dear reader, that both of these names flummoxed me. Answers below the fold.

1) Bukat- this is pronounced (Book-uh-Tee) as in Bookuhtee, named after the great educator Booker T Washington who wanted African-Americans to look toward Europe rather than slavery and Africa for their cultural touchstones.

2) La-a - this is tough because her name is pronounced (La-daish-ah) or as her parents/mom decided La Dash Ah


UPDATE: In the comments Corey points out that Snopes have investigated La-a previously and classified it as "undetermined". Well, all I can say is that I trust my friend's wife. If she says there's a kid named La-a in Anacostia, I reckon there is such a kid.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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