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Arizona Newscaster Defends Herself for Properly Pronouncing Spanish Words

“I was lucky enough to grow up speaking two different languages…”

Since Vanessa Ruiz joined the Channel 12 News in Arizona last July, the station has received complaints from viewers asking why she “rolled her R’s.” According to the station’s news director, Sandra Kotzambasis, some viewers especially objected to her pronunciation of the state’s third-largest city, Mesa. “Locals pronounce it ‘May-suh’ but many Spanish speakers and natives say ‘Mess-suh’,” Kotzambasis said. Ruiz hasn’t been shielded from the criticism, those that disapprove of her pronunciation have been vocal about it on social media.

Ruiz was born in Miami, moved to Colombia, and studied in Spain before beginning her journalism career which has allowed her to travel across the world. But it seems Ruiz’ worldliness puts her smack-dab in the middle of what’s been a controversial time for Arizona’s for Spanish-speaking citizens. A recently-passed state law banned bilingual education, with some exceptions, and another recently-passed law designed to ban ethnic studies classes is currently being challenged in the state courts.

This mounting controversy caused Ruiz to speak out and defend her pronunciation on a live Channel 12 News broadcast last week.

“Some of you have noticed that I pronounce a couple of things maybe a little bit differently than what you’re used to… Just so you know, I was lucky enough to grow up speaking two different languages and I have lived in other cities in the U.S., South America, and Europe. So, yes, I do like to pronounce things the way they are meant to be pronounced and I know that change can be difficult, but it’s normal. And I know that, over time, everything falls into place.”

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(H/T The New York Times)

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