Print

Print


Ha ha, time to weigh in........

Eugene Oh wrote:

> In writing the reply to Leon's questions about Pinyin, I used the word
> "Beijing", which made me curious as to how people habitually pronounce
> the names of foreign places when speaking in a certain language.
>
> E.g. "Beijing" in English -- upon encountering this word, do you
>
> 1. Attempt to pronounce it as close to the native as possible
> 2. Use English rules of pronunciation to read it [beIdZIN]
> 3. Pronounce it Englishly, butwith some exoticisation [beIZIN]
> 4. Pronounce it otherwise?

Rule 2 in this case. As one who knows no Chinese, and who grew up with 
"Canton, Chungking, Peking etc.", modern Chinese spellings often puzzle me. 
(Chinese restaurants here still offer "Peking duck", not AFAIK Beijing 
duck...)
>
> Ditto for "Paris", "Seoul", "Kagoshima", "Iraq", "Madrid", "Havana",
> "São Paulo" etc.

If the name has a standard or accepted Engl. pronunciation, that's it, so 
['pEr\@s], [sowl], [I'r\&k ~I'rAk], [m@'dr\Id], [h@'v&n@]...

Kagoshima: I'd pronounce it as written (with so-called European vowels, 
a,o,i,a), but wouldn't know where to put the accent (probably on the _i_). 
Same with Hiroshima-- in the US at least, one hears both ["hIro'Sim@] and 
[hI'r\oSim@].

São Paulo: oddly (perhaps because I've been there) is [sOU~'paulo] only 
about 1/2 correct Braz/Port. (the -o should be [u/U]).

Curiously, Paris is the only major Fr. city that I don't pronounce even 1/2 
correctly: [ka'le], [li'O~], [mar\'sey], ['Sar\tr\@], which are also 
standard from most educated Americans. But Rheims and Nancy usually elicit a 
"huh?" if pronounced à la Française. (I've sometimes been taken to task for 
saying [kE'bEk] Quebec.)

I vary on Iraq, as do most newsreaders in the US; suspect [A] is closer to 
correct, and never mind that [q]... But FLAT OUT is [ay'r\&k], which along 
with ['Eyr\&b] and ['nuky@l@r\], just sets my teeth on edge :-((((

About that Arabic q:  poor Qaddafi, poor Qatar, poor Holy City of Qum--- one 
sees them written/pronounced all over the map.

> Subconscious cultural uppity-ness?
I think most Americans would raise their eyebrows at any fellow-American who 
regularly pronounced foreign names absolutely correctly (I.e. French with 
the uvular r, Chinese with correct tones; Madrid and (La) Havana with 
correct d/g allophones.) Can we say "pretentious"?