Friday, September 02, 2011

Some last asides from ArmadilloCon

When I met Paulo Bacigalupi in the atrium of the hotel, I had been chatting with Rhonda Eudaly and Bill Ledbetter. The subject of the pronunciation of his name immediately came up, and Paulo - apparently after many years of experience - instantly began to explain it. I cut him off. "Hey, I know how to pronounce Ba-cha-ga-loop!* He gave a big smile.

I reminded him that in one part of Italy it's so common it's actually considered a generic name. "Yeah, I've heard it's like a joke name!" he said.

I said, "it's like Boudreaux in Cajun Country."

Being Italian-American, I suppose I never gauged how hard it is for other people to pronounce his name, but honest to god, that afternoon someone came up to me in the dealers' room and said, "Hey, Lou, I heard you know how to pronounce Paulo's name!"

As the panel on Secret History that met at mid-day Sunday was breaking up, I waved a mass market paperback copy of Steven Brust's "The Paths of the Dead" at him - and the audience. I said that while I don't read high fantasy, I bought the book Thursday in the Dollar General store on Jefferson St. in Mount Pleasant. I had stopped to pick up some groceries on the way home from work, and while standing in line, I caught sight of the paperback spin rack - and Steve's book was sitting there.

Well heck, I thought, that must be a sign - so I bought it. I told Steve "you know you are a best-selling author when you're on the spin rack in the Dollar General in Mount Pleasant, Texas! That means your books are sold EVERYWHERE"

I think he really got a kick out of that! I asked him to sign the book, too, and he did, with a big smile.

Well, unless I think of something else, I think that's it for my ArmadilloCon observations. As you can probably tell, I had a pretty good time.

* In most polysyllabic Italian names - such as both Bacigalupi and Antonelli - the emphasis is on the second syllable. Therefore Paulo's name is pronounced Ba CHA ga loop just like my name is pronounced An TON el li.

Baciagalupi is often spelled with an "a" in that second syllable. A variant pronunciation acts like that "a" is always there, and also uses the "i" at the end as a very weak vowel. That pronouncation would be Ba chee-a ga loop-a. Italians tend to really stifle vowels at the end of words - and in Italian every word ends in a vowel - which is why the typical imitation of an Italian accent has a weak "uh" sound at the end of every word, "I'ma gonna knocka you brainsa out!"

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