Actually both are correct, but not for the name of the largest city in New Mexico, which is Albuquerque (sans an “r” in the second syllable). Here we are again, back in New Mexico (I confess to a certain preferential partiality in choosing topics). But that aside, there is a real issue that needs to be addressed related to spelling accuracy. And yet another confession: I believe I misspelled the name of the city myself even after a decade of living there.
So it is Albuquerque when referring to this New Mexican city and its many organizations, businesses and political entities as well as surnames, but Alburquerque is correct when referring to the town in Spain, historical figures (dukes, counts and countesses), the current vice president of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Alburquerque (with the “r”), and a very talented baseball player, Al Alburquerque, among others. And in yet another twist, there is an Eisner Award-winning Brazilian comic book creator, Rafael Albuquerque (without the “r”).
Since 1972 Albuquerque has held an international balloon fiesta each October, which is among the best and largest balloon festivals in the world. For this, as well as many other good reasons, Albuquerque the city (USA) is newsworthy. I for one can heartily recommend New Mexico as a travel destination with its multiple cultures — Mexican, New Mexican, Native American, and yes, even Spanish. Many of the oldest families in northern New Mexico trace their heritage directly, and purely, to Spain and are very proud of it.
The first time I encountered the spelling Alburquerque in our Tansa logs (as a single name, not preceded by Al or Rafael), I assumed and was not surprised that someone had misspelled it given my own struggle with the name. But upon closer investigation I realized that the instances were not about the city in the American Southwest, but in sports stories about a baseball player.
Now the dilemma … let’s face it, these are both very difficult names to spell. By simply adding both spellings to the dictionaries, a misspelling with a high frequency may be allowed to slip through into print. Here at Tansa we can add Al Alburquerque and Rafael Albu(r)querque with algorithmic corrections, or even write search-replace corrections; however, this solution will not address the problem of instances of the surname used alone. We can add the name Alburquerque as a “warning” so that users will at least be prompted to check and confirm that it is the spelling intended. This situation then assumes general usage and that the user is not a sportswriter covering baseball or a political columnist whose focus is the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Spain or Portugal or covering a convention for Comic-Con (San Diego) or Comic Con (New York, Denver) or is it ComicCon? Thus we again experience that not all names (like words) are equal. Conversely, if your focus is on sports or Iberian cities or Latin American politics or comic book conventions, then Alburquerque would more likely be the default and Albuquerque marked as a warning to be checked and confirmed.
If only this were an isolated instance, but remember the blog about Downton Abbey (click here) … and there are many more pairs — Eva Longoria vs Evan Longoria, Steve Harvey vs Steve Garvey, Holywood (Ireland) vs Hollywood (California), Barack (Obama) vs (Ehud) Barak … so where you are located physically and your subject matter definitely affect which spelling is more important and frequent. Assigning algorithms can be very specific to geographical location or publication emphasis.
When Al Alburquerque comes to Albuquerque, I can imagine the sportswriters have to mind their “r’s and q’s”.