Phonics lesson in AZ

Posted November 29th, 2008 by kcorliss. Comment (0).

We landed at the Scottsdale, Ariz., airport last Saturday and spent the night in town. Our plan was to pick up Dean, a fellow West Fargoan and birder, the following day having flown commercially into Phoenix’s Sky Harbor then onto Catalina (a town on the northern reaches of Tucson) where we were to hole up in a friend’s trailer home for the week. And we did just that. Henceforth the pronoun ‘we’ will denote me, my copilot Tommy and Dean.

But before heading to Catalina we pulled off I-10 at Casa Grande to find the Northern jacana, a rare Mexican bird spending yet another winter in a rather undignified manner at a golf course. We found it, a lifer for Dean.

Just how do you pronounce this bird’s name, jacana? My minimal research produced a smattering of opinions. The bird is Mexican in origin so one would think it would be "ya-con-ya." Fair enough but I’ve never seen a tilde above the n so it might be "ya-conna." But the word itself is Portuguese in origin. It just so happened we flew down with a passenger who spoke the language. She says it is pronounced, "zha-sa-na" with the accent on the last syllable. But we tend to Americanize words so I’ll stick with "jaw-con-a" with accent on the second syllable. That said, the Portuguese version is likely more correct.

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