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Antonin Scalia Gives Sonia Sotomayor A Supreme Court Linguistics Lesson

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WASHINGTON — It's not just what you say, but how you say it, Justice Antonin Scalia often advises lawyers.

So when Justice Sonia Sotomayor was having trouble with an Italian word Monday, she turned to Scalia, the court's resident language maven. And one New Yorker to another, they sorted it out right there on the bench in front of an amused audience.

Sotomayor hesitated as she was about to say the name of an Italian cruise line that figured in the opinion she was summarizing involving a woman who broke her leg on a cruise.

"Costa Cruises responded that she should have sued a related company called Costa – I'm going to ask my colleague Justice Scalia to say it right," Sotomayor said. The company's name is Costa Crociere.

"Kroo-chee-ER-ay," said Scalia, the son of a professor of Romance languages at Brooklyn College.

"Kroo-chee-ER-ay," the Bronx-born Sotomayor repeated, adding, "I want to put the Spanish accent on it."

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