In the Florida town where I spend most winters there are more than a few unusual street names. One example is FORTRAN Drive. Those with an engineering background will recognize FORTRAN as the scientific programming language originally developed in the 1960’s. It is still in use but has long since been eclipsed by many other languages. Another street name example is BURNT STORE Road. One can imagine that long ago this road must have led to a store that burned down and the name stuck. Other atypical street names include OLIPHANT Lane and MARLYMPIA Way.

In my view, one of the most interesting street names in this town is AQUI ESTA Drive. Anyone with exposure to the Spanish language will recognize this Spanish phrase as, “here it is.” My guess is that the person naming the street either had a sense of humor, or simply wanted to acknowledge the notable Latin American influence in the area. In any case, the name is significant for several reasons. First, the street is a major thoroughfare in the town thus the name is spoken often. The second is that many people with little or no exposure to Spanish pronounce it as if it were an English phrase, which comes out sounding something like ack-kwee-es-ta. If you put the street name into something like Google Maps and select voice directions, what you hear is pretty close to this pronunciation.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken any languages classes. One general rule I do remember, though, is that proper names should be pronounced in their native language if possible. It is possible to put a Spanish pronunciation to my name (Jack) but it sure sounds a lot different than the English version because of the “J.” If someone called my name in Spanish I likely would not respond, or even know I was being called.

To me, the strangest thing of all is that folks insist on calling AQUI ESTA by the English version even though they clearly recognize that this word phrase doesn’t look the least bit English.

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