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Samuel Jones, the first man to hold the office of New York State Comptroller, when it was created in 1797. Photo: Project Gutenberg
Samuel Jones, the first man to hold the office of New York State Comptroller, when it was created in 1797. Photo: Project Gutenberg

How do you say Comptroller?

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A few days ago, reporter Natasha Haverty spoke with Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli about New York State's Office of Unclaimed Funds. But she also asked DiNapoli to help resolve an internal struggle here at the station.

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Reported by

Natasha Haverty
Reporter and Producer

Natasha Haverty: Hey, can I ask you one more thing as an aside?

Thomas DiNaopli: Yeah, sure.

NH: We've had a running conversation at the office these last couple weeks about how to pronounce your title. And I guess now we know it's (CON-TROLL-ER), right?

TD: Well, it's a frequently asked question. It's typically pronounced "controller" like "con", but it is spelled C-O-M-P because it comes from French for compute. The derivation is French with a "P", but the typical way to pronounce it is like there's no "P". But it's not inaccurate to say comptroller with the "P", but most people say (COM-TROLL-ER) it just rolls off more easily without the "P".

NH: So you don't find yourself correcting people when they say "COMPtroller"?

TD: No, not at all. Sometimes I say it both ways, too. Sometimes whatever pops into your head. Because it is an odd thing to pronounce it one way and spell it another way. It's funny, because some of the newspapers downstate refuse to spell it with the "P". They spell it the other way because that's the way it's pronounced. But it adds to the confusion, because when you go to the ballot the way it will read is "comptroller" with the "P". It is confusing. And that adds to the confusion of what the office is all about, because it's a title that people don't really understand. Sometimes they think its like an air traffic controller, which is not really what it's about. But we're asked that question all the time. From my point of view, either way is correct, although more typically it's pronounced "COM". I get more concerned about people pronouncing DiNapoli (DIH-NAH-POH-LEE) incorrectly, but as long as they get that right, I don't care about the first part.

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