I’ve been known to mispronounce my share of words over the years, especially when it comes to cars. I much prefer proper nouns as automotive model names – whether real, foreign, coined, whatever – over alphanumeric nomenclature that seems to be popular among European and Asian makes. Give me some time for trial and error, and I will eventually get it right. The Pontiac Parisienne is one such example. When the “Pontiac Impala” was introduced to the U.S. market from Canada, I was a young elementary school student at a time when foreign language studies weren’t part of the normal curriculum for kids that age.
Also around that time, I was pretty sure the slick, beautiful French coupe called a Fuego (which I could easily pronounce) came from a company called “Ruh-NAWLT”. It probably wasn’t until my family had purchased an ’85 Renault Encore hatchback that I started to say the name of its marque correctly, even if my back-of-the-throat French “R” could still use some work to this day.
There are more examples, but the model I’m writing about today is one I had thought for sure I had nailed in the pronunciation department… until very recently. I want to be clear that I am a fan of the Volkswagen Scirocco, especially the first generation cars (model years 1975 – ’81 in the U.S.) that predated our featured car. In an excellent QOTD feature by Jim Brophy, he had asked for examples of cars we had hated when we were younger but had later grown to appreciate.
I can’t say that I ever hated any Scirocco, but when I was a kid, the first one looked, to me at that time, simply like a slightly fancier and meaner Rabbit hatchback. Superficial aesthetic details like the arrangement of the tri-color taillamps, the linear styling, the flat, blunt front panel, and the central, round “VW” badge in the center of the grille seemed to share so much family DNA that I couldn’t see these sporty coupes were special. Time has given me a real appreciation for the fine looks of the original, though version 2.0 has also grown on me, even if a little less so.
Getting back to the name, I had grown up pronouncing it “Sher-ROC-ko”. I pronounced it that way for years. At some point, though – it might have been in college – I had heard it called a “Sir-ROH-co”. I’ll admit that sometimes when I have heard something pronounced differently than the way I’m accustomed to by someone who looks or sounds like they know what they’re talking about, and depending on the circumstance or thing, I have started using their pronunciation out of fear of sounding stupid. So, maybe twenty years ago or so, “Sir-ROH-co” stuck and I’ve been pronouncing the model name of this Vee-Dub that way ever since. This was originally going to be the initial premise of this piece: a humorously self-deprecating essay that outlined how it had taken me a long time, but I finally saw the light and started calling this sporty Volkswagen by its correct name. However…
Doing a little internet research on the Tube of You, I’ve discovered that not only are “Sher-ROC-ko” and “Sir-ROH-co” acceptable English pronunciations, there’s also “Sir Rocco” (and I’m sure maybe even a couple more). I’m just going to throw this out there (and Jim Klein, I looking at you, as I think of you as one of Curbside’s main VW aficionados, with the receipts here, here and here): What pronunciation did Volkswagen intend for this model in North America? This burning question may be answered only one or two comments in from the readership, but I’m also curious to know how others have pronounced “Scirocco”. As for me, I’m sticking with my original pronunciation, so “Sher-ROC-ko” it is. For now.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, February 24, 2013.