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Name recognition

June 28, 2008

Re "The presidential name game," Opinion, June 21

The play on the effect words have on us in Meghan Daum's article resonated with me as a recent visitor to the Los Angeles area. My grandson graduated from Will Rogers Middle School, and his class included a variety of names that reflected the multiethnic composition of our nation. I grew up in what I have somewhat sarcastically called a Scandinavian ghetto in southern Minnesota. If you were not Republican, Lutheran and Norwegian, you could not be trusted.

This is hyperbole, of course. But the last names of our grandson's class are our 21st century hope that we will not base our votes on tribal prejudice against names, as some did in my day.

L.A. Jake Jacobson

Wilsonville, Ore.

Daum's entertaining article on the names of American presidents observes that most are easily and correctly pronounced by Anglophone citizens because most of our presidents have had familiar English, Scottish or Irish surnames. To the "sole" exception she cites, the German "Eisenhower," we could add another exception -- the Dutch "Roosevelt." As far as I can recall, this was our only presidential surname that was commonly pronounced two different ways: Rose-ah-velt (correct) and Roose-ah-velt (incorrect).

Jim Valentine

Woodland Hills

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