According to Democrats, Republicans are now racist because they’re allegedly mispronouncing the name of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
The Associated Press published a lengthy essay over the weekend explaining the latest allegation of racism against the Republican Party, claiming top GOP leaders — from Vice President Mike Pence to GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel — are offenders.
The AP story is titled, “Democrats see racism in GOP mispronunciations of ‘Kamala.'”
The crime, according to the AP, is where Republicans are accenting Harris’ first name.
Pence, for example, recently said Harris’ first name by accenting its second syllable, “kah-MAH’-lah.” The AP said that McDaniel was guilty of the same. To correctly pronounce Harris’ first name requires accenting the first syllable, “KAH’-mah-lah”– or as Harris explained in her book, “‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark.”
Mispronouncing Harris’ name is part of a “deliberate effort” to undermine the Democratic vice presidential nominee’s appeal, critics claim.
From the AP:
Harris’ supporters say the pattern amounts to a deliberate effort by Trump and his allies to portray Harris — the daughter of immigrants — as someone who does not belong at the top ranks of politics. The mispronunciations follow a string of attacks that include racist and sexist memes and questioning whether Harris, who was born in California, is eligible to serve as vice president because her mother was Indian and her father Jamaican. (Constitutional scholars and other legal experts say there is no question that she is eligible.)
“It is an effort to diminish her,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center Action Fund. “It’s designed to signal difference.”
However, for native English speakers, placing the accent on the first syllable is uncommon when speaking a word with three or more syllables.
In fact, the natural inclination for native English speakers is to accent the middle or final syllable of a word with three or more syllables. Typically, only nouns and adjectives of of two syllables receive an accented first syllable.
Still, concrete syllabification rules do not really exist in English as they do for other languages, some of which include written accents, like Spanish and Greek. This means that most English speakers pronounce words in accordance with their regional dialects, which are driven by phonetics and ease of communication.