Viewers wrote in to Ruiz's station wondering "why she rolled her Rs"

By Alex Heigl
Updated September 04, 2015 05:05 PM

Vanessa Ruiz, an anchor for 12 News in Phoenix, Arizona, grew up in a bilingual household.

Consequently, while delivering the news, she pronounces certain Spanish-derived words – “mesa,” “casa grande,” for example – the way a native Spanish speaker would pronounce them. For some people, this was a problem.

Station news director Sandra Kotzambasis told The New York Times that certain viewers were asking why Ruiz “rolled her ‘Rs,” evidently prompting an on-air response from Ruiz, which has been getting passed around online thanks to her candor and a larger national conversation about the Spanish language’s increasingly prominent place in U.S. culture.

“I was lucky enough to grow up speaking two languages,” Ruiz said. “I do like to pronounce certain things the way they are meant to be pronounced, and I know that change can be difficult, but it’s normal and over time I know that everything falls into place.”

“I don t intend to come to Phoenix and do things ‘my way,’ however my goal is to stay authentic to who I am while, hopefully, making our newscasts more open and inclusive to everyone, no matter where they come from,” Ruiz wrote on the station’s website.

Ruiz’s announcement was met with a barrage of negative comments.

And some positive ones as well.

The use of Spanish as a second language in the U.S. has been a rising issue, with various groups lobbying for “English-only” versions of state tests and others passing resolutions to make English the “official language” of their locale.

This week, Donald Trump made a controversial statement when he chided fellow GOP candidate Jeb Bush should “really set the example by speaking English while in the United States,” after Bush used Spanish at a Miami campaign stop.