Pronounce 'Rockola' like 'Victrola'?
By Robbie Rhodes
|I wrote to the pronunciation editor at Merriam-Webster:|
"The direct ancestor of the jukebox is the coin-operated piano,
affectionately but improperly called the "nickelodeon"; these jolly
instruments were made by both Wurlitzer and Seeburg before they
turned to records.
"Right around 1940, I believe, a new jukebox name appeared: Rock-o-la.
Well, we all thought that it was an invented name, like Victrola and
Coca-Cola). But it isn't -- it's really the inventor's name: David
Rockola, a dyed-in-the-wool American inventor of Italian heritage.
The New York Times had a nice article about this man several years ago.
"How shall we pronouce the names of the inventor and his jukebox?"
Here's the answer from the dictionary expert:
> Well, this is a poser. You see, somewhere along the line Mr. Rockola
> modified his name, since 'k' isn't normally a letter found in native
> Italian words. Perhaps this was done to his family name on Ellis
> Island. In any case, if the original spelling was "Roccola," the
> pronunciation would be raw-CO-lah or RAW-co-lah: with Italian there is
> no way to tell where the stress goes in a name without asking the
> bearer, although in most cases it falls on the next to last syllable.
> I suspect that the anglicized spelling indicates an anglicized pronunc-
> iation for the New World as well, and the most likely anglicization one
> could choose would be rock-OH-luh.
Robbie Rhodes Etiwanda, Calif.