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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    So it's Amer-eye-ka then?

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    Or is that different because it's a Spanish word?
     
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  3. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Is it an English word or not? If it's English, then it's pronounced in accordance with English language rules.

    Ahh, but it's NOT a Spanish word.

    Baron Max
     
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  5. John99 Banned Banned

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    Sapnish...

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

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    There are no "English language rules" for proper nouns. The convention is to follow the pronounciation of the one who owns it.

    Amerigo is not Spanish?
     
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    It's named for Amerigo Vespucci.

    Edit: he was Italian, not Spanish
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Please excuse the poor attempt at a phonetic transcription, I can't get the International Phonetic Alphabet on this system. The standard pronunciation of "Iraq" in English is with a short I as in "into," a short A as in "hand" and the accent on the second syllable.
    Sure, the long-A version and the short-A version of "apricot" are regional pronunciations. But "Iraq" with a long I is just borne of ignorance.
    Not very often when it's an initial, unaccented syllable: inert. And not always even when the syllable is accented: idiom. Words like irate and idea are rare.
    That's not a "regional accent." That is the pronunciation of a name that has gone down different phonetic paths in two different languages. Many cities are so old that they were originally named in a language that is now dead, so the name evolved according to the phonetic rules of the people who still regard the city as important and therefore treat the name as a native word in their language. The S in Paris is silent in French, but not in Spanish, and it sounds like SH in Hungarian and Brazilian Portuguese. In English the accent shifted to the first syllable. In Italian it morphed into Parigi.

    The Romans founded a city named Londinium. It became London in English, London with the accent on the second syllable in French, Londres in Spanish and Londra in Italian.

    "Northern Capital," Be Ging in ancient Chinese, became Bei Jing in Mandarin and Ba Ging in Cantonese, although we spelled it Peking. "Eastern Capital" was Dong Ging in ancient Chinese; it became Dong Jing in modern Mandarin, and after the Japanese adopted the name it shifted phonetically over the centuries into Toh Kyo in their language.

    The Greek name Neapolis, "New City" became Napoli in Italian and Naples in French and English.

    Praha-Prague, Warszawa-Warsaw, Roma-Rome, Lisboa-Lisbon, København-Copenhagen, Moskva-Moscow, Bucureşti-Bucharest, Wien-Vienna, Firenze-Florence, Yirushalayim-Jerusalem, the list is endless.

    There are also names that we spell more-or-less correctly like Mexico (although we omit the accent mark) but we mispronounce it because we don't have the KH phoneme in English. Although it does seem to be creeping into American English because we're becoming so accustomed to Spanish, German, Russian, and now Arabic names. It was interesting to notice that no one pronounced the KH in "Khrushchev" correctly, but by the time his successor Mikhail Gorbachev came along, many Americans were pronouncing his first name correctly. (Not his last name, which should be Guhr-buh-CHOFF, but that's the fault of our stupid transliteration system.)

    But we do not have the Arabic Q phoneme, so no matter how we pronounce the I in Iraq, we're still not getting it right.
     
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    How do these phonemes come about? Why would the Arabs, for example have a Kh and Q which is so difficult for others to pronounce? Why are some sounds hard to reproduce accurately?
     
  11. John99 Banned Banned

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    It seems to be a toss up.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071028161611AAasPya

    Doesnt seem to be pronounced as 'ear' too often. tbh, i believe eye-rack to be acceptable.
     
  12. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently not.
     
  13. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    No, the convention is for any given group of speakers to settle on a pronunciation that they all recognize, and then use that. Nobody "owns" a word, and there are multiple valid pronunciations of most words in English. Confusion can occur when speakers from groups with different conventions interact, but this only results in problems if one or more of the people involved harbors the stupid idea that one or another pronunciation is "correct."

    For example, many English words for locations in continental Europe bear little obvious relation to the words used by the people who actually live in these locations: "Germany" for example. Even the ones that are close tot he native version are often still unpronounceable by native speakers of the language in question: "Spain" for example.
     
  14. John99 Banned Banned

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  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The aggregate set of phonemes in all of the world's languages comprise the entire set of sounds that can be produced with the human vocal apparatus. No phonemes are especially difficult to produce, with a few apparent exceptions such as Czech Ř and the clicks of languages like Xhosa, which stretch our abilities. Linguists have recorded and analyzed the unstructured sounds babbled experimentally by pre-verbal babies and found that essentially all of them make essentially the entire set of phonemes.

    However, no one language contains all possible phonemes, for the very good reason that it would be not only pointless but counterproductive. For almost any phoneme, there are several others that are made with only slight variations in the position of the vocal organs. The difference would be indistinguishable in normal speech so mastering more than one of them would serve no purpose. Some of these become allophones: variations of the same phoneme shaped for convenient movement of the vocal apparatus in conjunction with adjacent phonemes in the same word. The best English example is the aspirated T in top versus the unaspirated T in stop. Now that I've pointed this out you'll all listen very carefully so you can tell the difference, or else hang a sheet of toilet paper in front of your mouth so you can see the difference in air flow, but I'll wager most of you were never conscious of the difference until now. (You anglophones anyway. I assume like all educated Indians Sam speaks Hindi in addition to English and the language of her homeland, and is therefore accustomed to aspiration being phonemic: DHA, PHA versus DA, PA.)

    So each language ends up with its own subset of phonemes. The composition of any particular subset is an accident of history, influence of neighboring languages, and environment. Hawaiians had to shout their language between rafts on the high sea, so for clarity Hawaiian evolved an astoundingly small set of phonemes: A E H I K L M N P U and glottal stop. English on the other hand is Ancient German buffeted by the influence of Celtic, Scandinavian and French speakers, Latin and Greek scholars, and more recently the languages of colonial subjects and immigrants, so it has an enormous array of phonemes that make it difficult for foreigners to master. Eleven vowels plus diphthongs and triphthongs, just for starters.

    So, with the exceptions I noted earlier, no phoneme is particularly hard to pronounce, but it may be hard to pronounce for someone whose language doesn't contain it. The difficulty usually works in both directions. Americans can't say Plzeñ and Czechs can't say "whirl."

    The KH of Arabic is not a rare phoneme, and in fact occurs in many of the Indo-European languages including German, Greek, Spanish, Romanian, Polish and Russian. We just don't happen to have it in English. Although as I pointed out earlier we're absorbing so many foreign words with the sound that we're starting to get it right.

    The Q of Arabic is perhaps a little less common. I think the only Indo-European languages that have it are the ones that were influenced by the Arabic of the Koran under the Mughal Empire such as Farsi and Urdu. But I know almost nothing about the languages of Africa, Australia, Oceania and the New World, so I can't say that Q isn't more common over there.

    On the other hand, our TH phoneme may be rare. Many foreigners have great difficulty with it and say "duh" for "the" or "bofe" for "both," even though for us it's so easy that we make a rude game out of "lithping."
     
  16. FelixC Registered Senior Member

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    Hi S.A.M.
    1. linguistics, its definitely the right place, with FR as moderator, can't miss
    2. I'm just guessing but Obama has had quite a childhood living in Hawaii, Indonesia, and as a young adult in California, NY, Mass & Illinois, of a family from Kansas & Kenya, so I think he's had too many linguistic influences. so many that he may pronounce some words correctly & others way off no matter how hard he tries
    3. that just may be what he sees, its got way too many consonants for my liking & I'm guessing for him too

    I'll be honest, I'm not going to try to pronounce every foreign word like a native, but what the most common way I hear. also, my heads still ringing from trying to differentiate FR's pronunciation of "Czech" on another sub-forum & now he does "hk", "kh", ow!

    I'm not sure what the Americanized version of "Afghanistan" will develop into, since I don't think many languages use the same name or pronunciation of other countries' names, like not many English speakers call "Spain" "España" & I'm not sure how Hindi/Urdu speakers would say "Mexico" but I'm guessing its not like a Mexican?

    anyway SAM, you & FR may be in a league of your own as far as languages are concerned here, so don't get too far ahead of us (or if its just me, go slowly, ok?)
     
  17. FelixC Registered Senior Member

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    SAM:
    in American English, where a vowel is effects its pronunciation & now FR has made clear that even consonants can change too depending on others next to them

    also, silent letters can get you mixed up;

    were where ware wear weir

    & lets not forget werewolf
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2009
  18. Xylene Valued Senior Member

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    The Brits originallybegan calling Deh-li to rhyme with Belly:fart:

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    uke:

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  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I defer to Sam on this but I believe that Hindi does not have the KH phoneme so they're not likely to say "MEH-khee-koh." Furthermore they were originally taught English by the Brits, for whom it's a matter of pride to pronounce every foreign word incorrectly. Remember Byron's "Don Juan"? Rhymes with "bruin"?

    Urdu may have the KH sound because being Muslims, the Pakistanis must have assimilated a lot of Arabic words from the Koran, and KH is plentiful in Arabic.
    Half of Americans pronounce that as "where," the other half as "whir." It's actually like "weir" (weer) although "where" is so common that Dictionary.com now lists that first.

    It comes from an archaic Anglo-Saxon word wer, meaning "man," that does not survive in any other form. It's cognate to (and sounds the same as) Latin vir.
     
  20. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Hindi does have the kh phoneme, its called Kha

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    But we say Mex-ee-ko
     
  21. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    And we have another Indian town (city?) name as a common word in English now.
    But it's fading out of use.
    "Doolally".
     
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Iridium, Iroquois, irregardless, iridescent, irreproducible, irritating, irascible - - Iraq.

    In the essays I am currently grading for money, a taxpayer funded project under the mandate of W's "No Child Left Behind" federal expansion into K-12 schooling, the word shows up fairly often. My favorite variant spelling spotted so far is "Ariqw", or maybe it was "Arigw".
     
  23. Xylene Valued Senior Member

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    'Doolally' meaning slightly daffy, 80 cents in the dollar--that's how we use the term here in NZ.

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