Obama Afghanistan and Pakistan

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by S.A.M., Feb 28, 2009.

  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Not sure if it's the right place, but I noticed that while Obama says Pakistan correctly he still says Ayfghaynistayn instead of Afghanistan.

    It's a simar word so what would explain his presumed inability to see the similarity?
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2009
  2. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I haven't heard you speak but 99% of the Indians I have met speak standard Indian English, a dialect derived from pre-R.P. British English. Even the artificially contrived standard "Received Pronunciation" (what we Americans call "Oxford English" or "BBC English") is quite different from American English, and the older dialects spoken by the British colonists in India are even more different from our dialect.

    The main set of differences between American and British English is in the vowels. We have two almost entirely different series of vowels. In some cases we use the same phoneme for two different vowels; in other cases we have different phonemes that our brains struggle to interpret, from context, as something familiar. Carefully compare the American and British versions of "cat," "cot," "caught" and "coat," and you'll understand what I mean. The British pronunciation of each word in that series falls about midway between the American version of that word and the word to its right. (I can't transcribe the British pronunciation of "coat," it's something like "keh-oot," a diphthong we don't have. In our dialect it's a cardinal O or slightly diphthongized with a trailing W.)

    To make matters worse, there are slight dialectical differences between American regional pronunciations. Surely you've heard Southern American English, the American dialect most British actors use when playing an American character because it's so exaggerated that they can master it easily. Although Obama spent his childhood in Hawaii, he speaks more like a native of Chicago, the city of my birth, where he developed his political career. To a British or Indian ear, his short A sounds more like a long A; it's a tiny bit narrower than the short A I picked up in Arizona and California, and it's much narrower than the British/Indian short A, which to us Americans sounds almost like the broad cardinal A in "father."

    And you, coming from a country close to Afghanistan, may very well pronounce its name the way the Afghans do, with cardinal A's. In America those are short A's, but through the filter of your British/Indian dialect you hear them as long A's because they're not short A's the way you would pronounce a short A.

    I haven't heard him say "Pakistan," but some Americans try to emulate the native pronunciation and use a long A, even though most of us pronounce it with a short A: PACK-i-stan. The same short A as in af-GAN-i-stan.

    Most of us do say ka-ZAHK-stan, not ka-ZACK-stan. But only a few of us bother getting the KH right. :)
     
  3. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    We say Paak-i-staan and Afghaan-i-staan
     
  4. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I say ...T R O U B L E !
     
  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    If Obama pronounced Afghanistan like that he probably would sound affected to most Americans in my (upper midwest) region - as if he were imitating a British announcer at a tennis match. Joke material.

    I would start by punning on "half gone" dog/scarf/budget, and go from there.
     
  6. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    A lot of Americans have taken to saying i-RAHN instead of i-RAN. It sounds so affected. But other Americans say eye-RACK instead of i-RACK. That really sounds stupid.

    But the absolute worst is people who pronounce Bei Jing with a French J, the sound of S in "Asian." It's JING, as in "splurging." Why do people think Beijing is in France??? Even a lot of newscasters mispronounce it that way. It's not like it's difficult to say correctly.
     
  7. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Heh, the first time I heard eyerack and eyeran I was really surprised. It had never occured to me anyone could see it like that. Same for semeye and hemeye. We were brought up on semee and hemee
     
  8. DiamondHearts Registered Senior Member

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    American politicians pronounce it Pack istan, actually it is Paak i staan. Afghanistan is pronounced Af ghaan i staan (urdu) or Af gwaan i staan (afghani). Iran is pronounced Eee Raan, not I-Ran. 'N' is lightly pronounced such as in the Irani accent. Also, I don't know why they call Afghani as Afghan, annoys me like crazy.
     
  9. John99 Banned Banned

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    are those supposed to be different?
     
  10. DiamondHearts Registered Senior Member

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    Iraq supposed to be pronounced Eee Raaq or Eee Raawq (accent of region).
     
  11. John99 Banned Banned

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    Now you are getting into regional accents. So then we can say that there is only one way to speak and disregard all regional accents. Some leeway needs to be allowable and pronunciations will differ.
     
  12. DiamondHearts Registered Senior Member

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    Eye-rack isn't a proper way to pronounce Iraq.
     
  13. John99 Banned Banned

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    But the first letter is - i which is pronounced in english as eye.
     
  14. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    The name is Iraq not Eye-Rack but local people usually have different accents. Like Paree and Paris, Delhi and Dilli.
     
  15. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    How did I miss this???

    Do you say Amer-eye-ka? :D
    That's how weird Eyerack sounds to us :p
     
  16. John99 Banned Banned

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    ha ha...SAM i thought you were ignoring me.

    i think in the english language the first letter is i then it is pronounce - eye.

    *now i'm gonna change my avatar*
     
  17. John99 Banned Banned

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    hold on...let me search....
     
  18. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Who's "us"? Ya' mean "us" as in "the enemy"? :D

    And how does "us" pronounce Ireland?

    Baron Max
     
  19. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    hopefully, the same way the Irish do :p

    Us yaani those of us who can read the phonetic Arabic version of the name :)
     
  20. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    But "Iraq" is NOT spelled in the Arabic language spelling ...it's spelled in English, therefore is pronounced as an English word.

    Baron Max
     

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