We’re having another go at Jacques Brel’s “Carousel”, which we did last year (blog, 19 Jan 2010). Listening to our very creditable efforts, I was struck by the word carousel itself. I find that (in singing style at least) I want to pronounce the middle syllable with u. But most people in the choir pronounce it with ə, even in singing, thus ˌkærəˈsel. Airport baggage reclaim halls have made this a familiar word nowadays in the UK, where the fairground amusement in question is called not a “carousel” but a “roundabout” or a “merry-go-round”. Clearly I was right to prioritize the ə form in LPD, despite my own conservative habits.
We had an extra rehearsal last night, which has left me in something of a nit-picking mood. We have brilliant professionals producing original arrangements of the music we sing — so how is it that they can’t spell their Italian musical directions correctly? In Italian accelerando is spelt with two cs and one l, just as English accelerate. And I think the arranger means “resume”, not “assume”.
Even my poor smatterings of Italian are enough to know that this should be “molto sonoro”, not “molto sonore”.
Linguistically the most challenging for us of the new songs is an arrangement of two Hindi hits, Chaiyya Chaiyya and Jai Ho. (You may know the second of these from Slum Dog Millionaire.) An Indian member of the choir has been pressed into advising us on the pronunciation, but he’s struggling a bit because Hindi is only his third language, after English and Telugu. We have the lyrics in romanization of course, not in Devanāgarī. This brings its own problems (ee represents ई iː , not ए eː). We’re doing our best. What is tricky, though, is that the lyrics of Jai Ho at one point suddenly switch from Hindi into a sort of Spanish: “ahora conmigo tu baila para hoy…”. Our tame Spanish speaker had to admonish us not to pronounce h in ahora, Spanish aˈoɾa. There’s nothing he can do about the questionable grammar, though.
There’s more Spanish in a song called “In These Shoes”.
No le gusta caminar.
No puede montar a caballo.
Como se puede bailar?
Es un escandalo.
It’s a lost cause to try and persuade a choir mainly of English people to pronounce a Spanish-style r at the end of caminar and bailar, though we can manage an r-sound of sorts in montar — I’m sure you can see why. Interestingly, everyone knows about the double ll in caballo. We do it as j, which is fine, rather than as the disappearing Castilian ʎ. But an awful lot of our singers wrongly extend this treatment to bailar, producing baɪˈjɑː (Spanish baiˈlaɾ).
No way, Jozé. Ez un escándalo. But I don’t suppose the audience will notice. Rant over.