Pronouncing Dictionary of the Supreme Court of the United States

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 3, 2012

Pronouncing Dictionary of the Supreme Court of the United States: “Although the United States is famously a nation of immigrants, Americans often struggle with the pronunciation of foreign words and names. Mispronunciation of even common foreign words is ubiquitous (Eye-rack and Eye-ran spring to mind). Foreign names in legal matters present a particular challenge for legal professionals. The purpose of the Pronouncing Dictionary of United States Supreme Court cases, compiled by YLS students Usha Chilukuri, Megan Corrarino, Brigid Davis, Kate Hadley, Daniel Jang, Sally Pei, and Yale University Linguistics Department students Diallo Spears and Jason Zentz, working with Florence Rogatz Visiting Lecturer in Law Eugene Fidell, is to help conscientious lawyers, judges, teachers, students, and journalists correctly pronounce often-perplexing case names. Drawing on textbooks, recordings, accounts by litigants or counsel, pronunciation guides, journalism, and surveys, we identified those Supreme Court cases that are most susceptible of mispronunciation and determined the proper pronunciation. To be sure, several factors—including the passage of time, idiosyncratic pronunciation, and Anglicization—make this an inexact process. Where possible, we have ascertained and followed the litigant’s preferred pronunciation. Failing this information, we employed two methods. Where possible, we discerned the etymology of the name, consulted a native speaker of the pertinent language, and Anglicized the pronunciation during the process of transcribing the name. Otherwise, we surveyed five individuals with the surname in question and, where at least four used the same pronunciation, that pronunciation was controlling. The Dictionary is, inevitably, incomplete, but we hope it will be a useful tool for those seeking accuracy and authenticity. Special thanks go to Jason Eiseman of the Lillian Goldman Law Library for technical assistance and advice.”

Posted in Legal Research

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