We value your support now more than ever.

All year we’ve been covering the issues that matter most to you—the pandemic, the election, policing, housing, and more—and now our end of year membership campaign is here. Will you support our work to ensure we can bring you the same informative local reporting in 2021?

Been taking a lot of heat around the office today for my pronunciation of a certain word: salsa.

Everyone I’ve polled so far pronounces the word with a broad “a,” as in father; I say it with a short “a,” as in carrot.

For a few minutes there, I thought it was a regional thing. Here’s the provenance of my accent: Arlington (south of 50), Richmond, New York City. I checked with Darrow Montgomery, who was born in the District, spent most of his early childhood abroad, and has lived in D.C. since age 12. He says it with a broad “a.” McKenna! I thought. He grew up in Falls Church, not far from me, long before all the fancy people moved to D.C. He says it with a broad “a.” (That could just be social-climbing on his part; he abandoned NoVa for the District in 1986.)

It was getting pretty lonely around here, me and my short “a.” Then I called my wife. “Pronounce the word spelled s-a-l-s-a,” I demanded. She said it exactly like I do. Problem is, she’s from Edinburgh, Scotland. “I don’t think you used to say that,” she said when I repeated it to her in turn. “You sound Scottish when you say that.”

I called McKenna again. “Have you found any compatriots?” he asked. I told him no. “I don’t think you will, except in Scotland,” he said.