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]

I'd probably do something between 1 and 2, using English sounds but 
trying to sound as close to the Chinese pronunciation as I can. No point 
in trying to Anglicize the name too much when we already have Peking. 
But it happens that Běijīng has a pattern of tones not too different 
from /beI'dZIN/ as pronounced in English, and the consonants are not too 
different either: [p] and [b] are both heard as /b/. So it's not too far 
out of place to give "Beijing" a touch of a Chinese accent.

> 3. Pronounce it Englishly, butwith some exoticisation [beIZIN]

Ugh. Now if I were speaking French or Portuguese that would make sense, 
but English has a perfectly good /dZ/ sound, and /Z/ might be mistaken 
for Chinese /r/. I don't expect reporters to know how Chinese /r/ is 
pronounced, but someone has got to let them hear a recording of how a 
native Chinese speaker pronounces Beijing (hint: they won't hear 
anything like a /Z/ in it).

> 4. Pronounce it otherwise?
> Ditto for "Paris", "Seoul", "Kagoshima", "Iraq", "Madrid", "Havana",
> "São Paulo" etc.

Paris is always /'pErIs/, whether Texas or France. Likewise, France is 
always /'fr&ns/. (Keep in mind when I write /r/ it's the American 
approximant, which is conventionally written [r\] but isn't really that 

Seoul is /'soUl/, as that's about as close as you can get in English 
anyway. I don't know the Japanese accent pattern for "Kagoshima", but 
I'd pronounce it to rhyme with "Hiroshima", both accented on the O. I've 
also heard "Hiroshima" accented on the third syllable.

Unless I'm talking with someone who says /aI'r&k/, in which case I might 
subconsciously pick up that pronunciation for the moment, I'm more 
likely to say /i'rAk/ or /I'rAk/. I wouldn't put a [q] at the end of 
that when speakiing English. Madrid and Havana are anglicized, /m@'drId/ 
and /h@'v&[log in to unmask] "São Paulo" I'm likely to say without nasalizing the 
vowel, /saU 'paUlo/.

In general, when names have long-established English equivalents I'll 
use those. I don't know how long it's going to take before I can 
remember to say Mumbai instead of Bombay. And just how ís Myanmar 
supposed to be pronounced in English, anyway?

Now the conventions for Minza are a bit different, but not all that 
much. Minza still adapts foreign names to the Minza phoneme inventory, 
but borrowed names can violate some of the phonological patterns of 
native Minza words. The word for Switzerland, "ta-Švaic", illustrates 
this with its initial šv- cluster, otherwise unheard of in Minza. In 
older versions of Minza I'd put an extra vowel in there to break up the 
cluster, "ta-Šavaic", but I've abandoned that convention. "Ta-Braziu", 
Brazil, has an exceptional pronunciation of /iu/ as [iw], which in 
native Minza words is /ju/. But Minza has its own conventional names, as 
"ta-Połki" for Poland for instance, or "ta-Nglissi" for England.