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Saddest Ghost Lamp

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tomorrow's Corrections Today (With Apologies to Gawker)

From Alessandra Stanley's story on Oprah Winfrey's 20th anniversary on the air:
Ms. Winfrey was born into poverty in Mississippi and refers to herself as a "former colored girl." Like another prominent African-American, Condoleezza Rice, Ms. Winfrey owes her distinctive first name to a spelling error: she was supposed to be named Orpah, after a figure in the Book of Ruth, but someone transposed the letters at the registry.
From a 1989 Washington Post profile of Rice, containing the earliest Nexis-able reference to the derivation of her name: "Her name was derived from the musical notation con dolcezza -- sweetly."

A 1999 National Review profile of Rice makes the point more directly: "Her mother, a pianist, was thinking of the musical direction con dolcezza, or 'with sweetness'; for her only child, she composed a variation on it."

This Times of London profile from last year says Rice's mother "crafted the name Condoleezza from the Italian musical notation 'con dolcezza' (with sweetness)."

"Derived," "composed," "crafted": I suppose it's entirely possible that Rice's mother--a pianist--attempted to name her daughter Condolcezza, but made (or allowed a bureaucrat to make) a spelling error that rendered the attempt a failure, resulting in the bastardized Condoleezza. But for some reason, I think I'll take the above accounts, as well as the dozens of others in Nexis that suggest the transformation from con dolcezza to Condoleezza was purposeful (it is a slightly more natural sounding name), over Stanley's. I wonder what the good Dr. Rice will have to say about it.

In other news, it's kind of fun to say Orpah.