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Is It Steen Or Stine? How To Pronounce Rod Rosenstein's Name

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

There were many points of contention this week, and we're going to focus for a moment on one of them - one that we think we can actually resolve.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The deputy attorney general - is he Rod Rosenstine (ph) or Rod Rosensteen (ph)?

SIEGEL: This week, we heard both.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Rod Rosenstine.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: Rod Rosensteen.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: Rod Rosensteen.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #4: Rosenstine.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #5: Rosensteen.

SIEGEL: So which is it?

CORNISH: Well, our intrepid producer, Selena Simmons-Duffin - that's pronounced Simmons Duffin - went to C-SPAN and found this old clip from a 2008 press conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROD ROSENSTEIN: Good morning, I'm Rod Rosenstein, U.S. attorney for Maryland, and I'm very honored to be here on behalf of the Department of Justice.

CORNISH: There you have it folks. It's stine - Rosenstein.

SIEGEL: We should note that this is a constant issue for people with last names that end in S-T-E-I-N, including mad scientists.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN")

MARTY FELDMAN: (As Igor) Dr. Frankenstein.

GENE WILDER: (As Dr. Frankenstein) Fronkensteen (ph).

FELDMAN: (As Igor) You're putting me on.

WILDER: (As Dr. Frankenstein) No, it's pronounced Fronkensteen.

SIEGEL: If you're not sure, a good rule of thumb is this - with surnames or words that are from German, E I is pronounced I.

CORNISH: Like Einstein.

SIEGEL: And I E is pronounced E.

CORNISH: Like Siegel.

SIEGEL: Of course, there are always exceptions.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FUNNY GIRL")

BARBRA STREISAND: (As Fanny Brice, singing) Nicky Arnstein, Nicky Arnstein, what a beautiful, beautiful name.

SIEGEL: Beautiful maybe, but not consistent with the rule.

CORNISH: So never assume. Always ask the person with the stein...

SIEGEL: Or the stien.

CORNISH: ...How they say their name.

SIEGEL: To recap once more.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROSENSTEIN: Good morning, I'm Rod Rosenstein.

SIEGEL: That is how the deputy attorney general says his name.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADRIAN ROLLINI AND THE ORCHESTRA SONG, "LET'S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.