Pronunciation of 'Ampico'
By Bruce Clark
|[ Editors note:|
[ Bill Chapman sent us this note he received from Merriam-Webster, Inc.,
[ publisher of the well-regarded dictionary of American English usage:
[> To: Bill Chapman, Amica Membership Secretary
[> From: email@example.com
[> I found your web page and I hope you can help me with a piece of
[> information. I am the pronunciation editor for Merriam-Webster,
[> Inc. I have been contacted by the BBC to find out the correct
[> pronunciation of the name of the Ampico player piano.
[> Is it am-PEE-koh or AM-pi-koh? Or, do knowledgeable people use
[> more than one pronunciation?
[ I forwarded the note to Bruce Clark, saying
[> Bruce, You were _there_ at the old Ampico piano roll factory
[> in Rochester, New York, when it still existed. You are also an
[> excellent writer, and I can think of none better qualified than
[> you among our members to answer this request!
Thanks for the note in regard to pronunciation. "Ampico" was indeed the contraction of the company name, American Piano Company. Those unfamiliar with pianos pronounce it am-PEE-koh; that always sounded like a place in Mexico where one might spend a vacation!
By the time I was involved with the factory the name had been changed to Aeolian-American. The telephone operators would greet callers with "Good morning, AEOLIAN AMERICAN".
The local Rochesterians pronounced it "AMp'koh", with a clipped Rochester accent that seems to leave out some syllables. If you ask them where they lived, it was "Rochstr" or "East Rochstr" instead of Rochester. This clipped linguistics persists and is most-likely regional within the Rochester area.
Those who new Ampico well, and old timers who remained with the factory, pronounced it "AM-pi-koh," with a softened i, like in pa. This is what seems to be most correct. The pseudo-elite pronounced it "Ahhhmpahcoe", which always made me chuckle.
As far as I know, Ampico never used diacritical marks in their early advertisements.
Bruce A. Clark
(Message sent Sat 11 Jan 1997, 14:06:13 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)