NPR’s Mixed Multitude

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton!

It took me a while to get it right. O-fei-bea with the beat on “fei,” which sounds like “fay.” I practiced in the car.

Felix Contreras, Yuki Noguchi, Neda Ulaby

Such beautiful, musical names, they almost ask to be sung.

National Public Radio hosts, reporters and commentators have long been Smith, Clark, and Brown, with respectiable representation by the likes of Shapiro, Hargerty and Mondello. The outlier exceptions were striking: Sylvia Poggioli, who pronounces her name like she’s savoring a dish of orchietto en brodo, and the Transylvanian-tongued poet, Andrei Codrescu.  

Over the past decade, however, public radio had treated us to a dulcet explosion of diversity:

Meghna Chakrabarti, Maria Hinojosa, Madalit del Barco

 A generation ago, Meghna would probably have chosen to be Meg and Mandalit might have opted for Mandy. No more. There are fewer nicknames and less lopping off the “extra” syllable.  Anglicizing is out and sign-offs are often delivered with pronunciation authentic to the ethnic source.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, Lakshmi Singh, Shankar Vedantam, Soraya Sahrhaddi Nelson

This is as it should be on television and the rest of the radio dial, too, because this is what you get when you assemble a random assortment of American names.

Barack Obama, for goodness sake!


  1. Amy on April 12, 2012 at 8:10 am


    We’re discussing your book today for book club. Red Tent. Wish you were here!
    West Virginia is beautiful.


  2. Anita Diamant on April 12, 2012 at 8:31 am

    I hope it is/was a great conversation. Thank you for selecting my book…

    Enjoy the beauty of WV


  3. Unknown on April 26, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Really enjoyed “The Red Tent.” What an incredible story teller you are.
    I would love to know the meaning behind the statement remembered by Dinah that Zilpah had told her when she was a child, “We are all born of the same mother.” (pg. 318)

    Is she referring to Eve? Or to one of the goddesses?

    I ask because I am in the process of adopting a child and I think that showing the child that we are all of the same mother will help to establish attachment and to help us feel a connection. This statement really jumped out at me.

    Thank you so much,
    Sarah Wright
    (Vancouver, Canada)

  4. Anita Diamant on April 26, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I meant that in he most global sense: so “Eve” though not literally. The idea is that we all belong to one human family.
    Good luck with the adoption. I hope your child is with you soon.

  5. Unknown on April 26, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Thank You!

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