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I am writing an effigy poem homaging Ponce De Leon, "discoverer" of La Florida in 1513 and though it is being written in English (Early modern English), I am very adamant on having "Florida" be enunciated by a reader in its Spanish pronunciation. So I want it to be pronounced as ((floh-ree-dah) (IPA: floɾiða)) rather than the "American" pronunciation of ((flor-duh or Flawr-I-duh)(IPA: flɔɹdə)).

My question is: are there any "devices" I can use in a poem to signify that the reader should pronounce it in its Spanish-spoken pronunciation. As I find it inevitable that if I do not signify my intentions on the word being pronounced thus, it would be immediately assumed by any non-Spanish reader to pronounce it differently.

For example, I have previously used the accented "é" in my plays, to signify to an actor that the "e" must be pronounced. Something like this.

P.S. I am not asking for assistance on a different language (so I very much hope I am not going against any of EL&U's rules), I am merely requesting tools to infer that one should pronounce a certain word in its original-tongue's dialect when being used in an otherwise completely English written poem.

Any insight would be lovely and most humbly appreciated.

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  • I'm not American, but I've seen a lot of American movies and TV shows and I'm used to hearing Florida pronounced with three syllables, I don't remember hearing flor-duh unless maybe for comic effect. (I don't usually hear the Spanish pronunciation though.)
    – nnnnnn
    Sep 24, 2020 at 4:37
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    Munching Doritos and sipping mojitos / Ponce's amigos discovered Florida.
    – Phil Sweet
    Sep 24, 2020 at 10:18
  • @PhilSweet hence “discovered”—but I like your style! Sep 24, 2020 at 12:16
  • @nnnnnn flor-duh is a colloquial slurring os glossing over of the middle syllable, and is very context depending. For example, I'd say both "we went to Miami, Flor-ih-duh" (fully pronouncing all three syllables) and "we went to Flor-ih-duh" (slurring the middle syllable).
    – RonJohn
    Jul 5, 2023 at 1:03

4 Answers 4

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Since you’re writing a poem, you can use cadence fairly blatantly to highlight pronunciation. Compare the following:

  • Micky’s FLORida settled sooner; vs
  • And then the barista FloRIda discovered.

Sustaining the cadence over multiple lines would further ‘force’ the pronunciation.

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Two suggestions:

  1. Use rhyme. Find a word (or two) which, when pronounced in English, rhyme with the Spanish pronunciation of Florida. Your first use of "Florida" should then be as a rhyme to those words. (I'm sorry: I'm not clear on the Spanish pronunciation, so can't offer any suggested rhymes.)
  2. Use an indisputably Spanish word in conjunction with Florida, either once or always. Again, I don't know any Spanish (I don't event know whether Florida would be regarded as masculine or feminine; I'll assume the latter) but a phrase like "bella Florida" or "bonita Florida" might give the reader the nudge to realise that Spanish pronunciation is desired.

(In fact as I write I see that "bonita Florida" might fit both).

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Indicating a required pronunciation in writing is all but impossible without the use of a footnote. I am assuming that you do not want to do that. If the metre of the poem allows, I would use La Florida (keeping the italics) in the hopes that this will be enough to encourage [la floˈɾiða]

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Flórída. I just googled 'Florida Spanish pronunciation' and saw this spelling. Might work for you. Or since it's a poem, if you can get away with spelling, you can write FloREEda.

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