Vis-tah or vee-stah

First, let me issue the disclaimer; I am not a linguist.  I have no training or special skills on knowledge in the area.  Therefore, I was both surprised and amused to find that, of all the hundreds, or thousands of blogs that must have been reporting the news of the new name for Windows Longhorn, the Seattle P-I Microsoft Blog decided to link to craigrow.  Apparently it was the suggestion that the “correct” pronunciation of Windows Vista is “vee-stah” that piqued their interest. 


I’m actually a little embarrassed about this.  When I was first told of the name change, the night before the public announcement, I was told to pronounce it “vee-stah.”  The name Windows Vista made so little sense to me that I figured there must be some hidden meaning in the special pronunciation.  This was the reason I looked up the definition in Encarta.  Over the weekend I asked many Microsoft friends what their thoughts were about the name.  It’s growing on people.  Almost all pronounce the word “vis-tah.”  Most were surprised by my suggestion to pronounce the word “vee-stah.”  


The debate on the P-I blog reminded me of a conversation that occurred on my first visit to Europe.  I was traveling with several students from the U.S., Sweden and Eastern Germany.  At some point somebody asked what the “correct” pronunciation of Copenhagen was.  Both the Swedes and the Germans seemed perplexed by the idea that a “correct” pronunciation existed.  After some consideration the response came like this…in Sweden we say it this way…, in Denmark they say it this way…, you’re American so you probably say it this way...  The concept of a “correct” pronunciation doesn’t seem to exist in Europe.  There are many ways to pronounce words.  People use different pronunciations depending on their cultural and linguistic background.  No one pronunciation is correct or incorrect.


I also found a comment in the P-I blog indicating vee-stah should be the correct pronunciation because it would be “correct” for the majority of Americans, meaning Latinos, North, Central and South Americans.  Windows is localized into many, many languages.  To pick a name which applies properly in only English or Spanish would be a huge mistake that Microsoft goes to great lengths to avoid.  The idea that Microsoft would confine itself to one specific pronunciation, a Spanish one, would seem like a poor decision.  I’m curious if the name Windows Vista will be translated in the Spanish version of Windows.  To my knowledge that would make the name Ventanas Perspectiva.  My English to Spanish dictionary says window translates to ventana.  I’m not sure how to express the plural in Spanish.


So, you say po-ta-toe, I say po-tah-toe.  You say vis-tah, I say vee-stah.  Choose your favorite.  I’m going to say vee-stah because Windows Hasta-la-vis-tah doesn’t sound as good as Windows Hasta-la-vee-stah.