Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Eye-rack and Eye-ran

Here’s a nice little video from YouTube. It’s an advertisement for CNN, in which Christine Amanpour purports to attempt to teach the approved pronunciation of Iraq(i) and Iran to a would-be presenter who wants to say them with /aɪ-/.

The last two seconds of the clip is nice, too. We’re supposed to say /tʃetʃˈnjɑː/.

While on the subject of mispronunciations, a few weeks ago I saw the former US presidential candidate John McCain pronouncing infectious as /ɪnˈfektʃuəs/. Put that in the same box as prenuptial (blog, 9 June 2006) and rumbustious (blog, 27 Nov 2008).

28 comments:

  1. And are we supposed to say bägghee and rrrawmah for Paris and Rome? And k-khisdin ama~bookh?

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  2. Kosovo would be another to add to the list. There seems to be a theme here with specifically American pronunciations putting the stress on the first syllable in a country's name.

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  3. In that case, she should go the whole hog because the sound represented by the "a" in "Iran" in Persian is more or less the same sound represented by "o" in the given name "Ron(ald)". However, I am inclined to agree with the first comment. What obligates us to pronounce the name exactly as it is pronounced in the language of origin?

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  4. I am content to say Chechenia /tʃɛˈtʃɛniə/. Russian Чечня́ is irrelevent. The Chechen designation is Нохчийчоь or Noxçiyçö.

    Not sure what Ed's on about. In Ireland we stress Kosovo on the first syllable.

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  5. My father said [aI]talian his whole life long, but I believe that pronunciation has died out. Similarly, [mIzur@] is no longer current in urban Missouri.

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  6. I thought the big deal in that Balkan place was Kosov/o/ vs. - /a/.

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  7. The change from [aɪ]talian to [ɪ]talian doesn't have to be one of these corrections, though it might, of course. Pr[eɪ]gue and [ˈvɪə]nna are pronounced in a new way by most people today, too.

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  8. "Kosovo" is a Serbian name, and the pronunciation with initial stress, as in Serbian, sounds much better in my opinion.

    (I am speaking from a merely linguistic and historical, not from a political point of view.)

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  9. @Michael Everson. I've checked LPD and it does report initial stress /ˈkɒs ə vəʊ/ after all. I had guessed it would be /kɒs ə 'vəʊ/. The American pronunciation is /'koʊs ə voʊ/.

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  10. /tSEtS"njA:/ breaks English phonotactic restrictions, so would seem an odd choice for a standard pronunciation. And I doubt anyone who had only heard of the country through news of its troubles with Russia would even recognise /tSE"tSEni@/ - out of context, I wouldn't have. Was it the traditional term?

    As for the /aI/ in the usual American pronunciation of Iran and Iraq, where did it come from? According to Etymonline, both words were loaned in the 20th century, so Greatly Shifted Vowels seem unlikely. Is this another inexplicable spelling pronunciation like the British pronunciation of /aIbi:T@/?

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  11. This reminds me of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw2nkoGLhrE

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  12. Pr[eɪ]gue? Surely not.

    Why, certainly.

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  13. Hi,
    It is very interesting video concerning on some international matters and pronunciations.We will some more such vids soon.

    remede

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  15. ðɪ ɛgzəʊnɪmz əɹ ə njuːsns, wɪ ʃʊd neɪm ðə fɒɹən kʌntɹiz m piːpl ɪn ðeəɹ aʊn læŋgwɪʤ ɪn ɔːdə tə əvɔɪd lɜːnɪŋ njuː ʌnjuːsfl wɜːdz iːʧ taɪm wɪ ɪmplɔɪ ʌðə læŋgwɪʤ. baɪ ðə waɪ, ˈkɔsɔvɔ ɪz ˈsrpskiː (sɜːbiən) waɪl kɔˈsɔvɔ ɪz ˈʃcipɛ (ælbeɪniən).

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  16. Could it be that they say /aɪ-/ in the US at the beɡɡinninɡ Iran and Italian because the name starts with the letter I? A similar problem arises when they say Laos as /leɪɒs/ instead of /laʊ/ When the French added the 's' at the end of Lao to refer to the unified Lao provinces, they weren't expecting anyone to pronounce the letter. Neither did they expect that the letter letter 'A' would be said as its capital name.
    On the other hand we say Paris with an 's' so they should have expected it! As far as 'how should we say the names?' I feel there a slight obligation to show some level of education by trying imitate the way any local says the name of their domicile. Australians say Melbourne as Melbun but in Britain there is a desire to use the ɔː sound. In Thai, as it is a phonetic language, most names can and are said as they are in the relevant country.

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  17. @Hlndovic

    1. Educated speech in English includes knowing how a place is called in English. If there's no tradition, you'd naturally take the native name and approximate it, using the English repertoire including the few established extras such as nasal vowels or phonotactically uncommon combinations. Using a perfect native pronunciation sounds incredibly nouveau-lettré. Sometimes foreigners who speak an otherwise accent-free English make this mistake when they pronounce a name or term of their native language.

    2. Using forms such as srpski would irritate native speakers if they're used in places where the original language asks for an oblique case and the like. So, you'd have to ask everybody to know fine points of grammar in all languages in addition, and how they apply to the target language. It was fun with Latin in learned 19th-ct English or German, but it wouldn't work universally.

    3. If you write in IPA, you couldn't use the broad transcription you use.

    4. Never mind the stress, in Albanian, the usual form is Kosova, sometimes Kosovë.

    5. It's [ˈŝərpskiː], not [ˈsrpskiː].

    6. It's Serbo-Croatian anyway. :-)

    7. [ðeə(ɹ)] doesn't fit [aʊn].

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  18. Thanks for this exciting video.It seems stranges how they pronounce it.

    handy zubehör

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  19. David Marjanović10 October 2009 at 15:51

    ˈʃcipɛ (ælbeɪniən).

    Does anyone ever actually pronounce the Albanian q or the Macedonian ќ as [c]? I mean, I lack any first-hand experience, but I've been told they're [kʲ] in the south and [t͡ɕ] in the north. [c] is the sound of Hungarian ty, something much more similar to [tʲ] than to [kʲ].

    This is also a discrepancy between the English and the German Wikipedias about modern standard Greek, where the English one claims /k/ is turned into [c] by front vowels, while the German one says [kʲ] comes out instead (and its discussion page says various affricates occur in the dialects).

    It's [ˈŝərpskiː], not [ˈsrpskiː].

    Are you sure that wouldn't be a Slovene accent? :^) At least some people, such as my dad, really do use syllabic [r] without any trace of a vowel on either side.

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  20. So he's probably a speaker of one of those dialects, unless you hear it as a pure r because the schwa is shorter than, for instance, in Standard Slovenian and schwa doesn't otherwise occur in SC.

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  22. @Lipman

    θæŋk‿ju fə jɔː ˈkɒmɛnts. aɪ nəʊ ˈɛksəʊnɪmz əɹ‿ə pɑːt əv məʊst əv ðə ˈlæŋgwɪʤɨz, ˈhaʊɛvə, aɪ θɪŋk ðeɪj‿əɹ‿ən‿əˈnækɹəˌnɪzəm, ə ɹʷɛflɛks əv hɪsˈtɒɹɪkl̩ ɪˈvɛnts, fəɹ‿ˈɪnstəns ˈdɔʏʧlant ɪz kɔːld ˈʤɜːməni ɪn ˈɪŋglɪʃ əz ɪn ˈɹʷəʊmən tʰaɪmz, alˈmaɲ ɪn fɹɛnʧ əz ðə ʤɜːˈmænɪk tɹaɪb; ɔː ðə keɪs əv hɑjɑsˈtɑn ən sɑkʰɑrtʰvɛlɔ wɪʧ ɹɪəɫ neɪmz əɹ səʊ ˈdɪfɹənt fɹəm ðəʊz əv ɑːˈmiːniə (ˈɹʷəʊmən) n̩ ˈʤɔːʤə (mɛdiˈiːvl̩).

    ɒn ðɪj‿ʌðə hænd, ɪf wɪ hæd wɒn wɜːd fəɹ‿iːʧ pleɪs ɪt wʊd bi ə kənˈsɪstənt ˈsɪstəm, bʌt ɪt ɪz nɒt, ðɛɹ‿əɹ‿ə lɒt əv ˈpleɪsɨz wɪðˈaʊt ðɛɹ‿ˈɛksəʊnɪmz.

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  23. This is more about "conlangs", and probably even those only in their first status; natural languages work differently, which is why you reasonably use the coniunctivus irrealis.

    Why do you make this distinction between proper nouns and common nouns?

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  25. nʌn əv ðə ˈkʰɒnlængz (ɪkˈsɛpt ˈloʒban ɪn ə vɛɹɪ pʰɑːˈtʰɪkjʊlə weɪ) ɪmˈplɔɪz ˈɛndənɪmz, ðeɪ juːz fɔːmz ɪnˈspaɪəd ɪn ˈlætɪn ɔː ˈwɛstən tʰʌŋz.

    ðə ˈɹʷiːzn̩ waɪj‿aɪ dɪsˈtɪŋgwɪʃ ˈtʰɒpənɪmz n̩ ˈændɹənɪmz fɹəm ˈkʰɒmən naʊnz ɪz bɪˈkɔːz ðeɪj‿ə ˈpɹɒpə neɪmz. ɪf ju ə ˈnaɪðə libˈman, lipˈmɑ̃ nɔː ˈluːpu ˈtsilvɛːks, waɪ hɑjɑsˈtɑn mʌst bi ɑːˈmiːniə?

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  26. Boris Blagojević27 April 2010 at 11:21

    5. It's [ˈŝərpskiː], not [ˈsrpskiː].

    Not really, it's definitively a syllabic consonant. And I guess that most of the speakers don't have long vowels after falling syllables, at least that's the case in Croatian. But i: is standard.

    @David: The circumflex is a good choice, as far as I can tell.

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  27. Eye-rack is not a linguistic issue. Military personnel say it that way because the president who got us into it said it that way. Those who supported that prez and that decision, and many with friends or family in service, use Eye-rack as a small gesture of loyalty.

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