I would make this yet another addendum to my Kolkata entry below, but I think it deserves the prominence a separate entry provides. Grant Hutchinson has a brilliant rant on the subject of “correct” pronunciations of foreign names, as hilarious as it is spot on. This is a man after my own heart:

Yes, OK, but don’t you think it’s important to say things the way the locals do?
Ah, what a tempting notion that is. Who among us has not come back from some foreign trip intent on saying “yama” for llama, or “Nee-kar-agggh-wa” for Nicaragua, or “Mong-rrrhay-al” for Montreal? (I confess to a dangerous flirtation with “Budapesht” myself.) And who among us was not then kindly mocked by our friends, who pointed out jeeringly (but caringly) that such words were pronounced differently in English, and, since English was the language we had chosen to speak, could we not just speak it properly? Or were we planning on spending the rest of our lives saying “Paree” for Paris?
So to answer your question – no, I think it’s sad and silly to say things the way the locals do if there’s an accepted English pronunciation.

[From The Angry Corrie, “Scotland’s Wet ‘n’ Windy Hillzine,” via Billy Blogs.]


  1. Codeswitching is an interesting thing. My own rule of thumb is to adopt what feels like the correct phonology of the sentence in which a word is found. So, Colorado get gets a nice flappy d if I’m speaking English, but it’s fricalicious if it’s Spanish.

    I extend this policy even to proper names — to my own name, in fact. When I was in Brazil, I called myself Patrick with a vowel on the end, ao modo Brasileiro (something like “pah-TREE-key.” Gah, give me IPA! Oh wait… [pa-`tri-ki].)

    Sometimes I’d get funny stares on that. “I’m from Virginia” would be vih-ZHEE-nya. Because, to me anyway, that sounds right in the context. Maybe it comes from studying a lot of phonology or something, but I think of the sounds of a language as a system, and everything gets run through the mill.

    Having said that, there are some key words like “latino,” as you mentioned, that are a bit more loaded, and as well all linguistic matters, there can be no universal theory.

    And then there’s the whole thing of people lifting entire phrases and inserting them into another language, that’s serious codeswitching. (I remember reading an interesting paper on that happening in Hindi, as a matter of fact. I wish I knew the reference…) But I myself don’t do that much, so I don’t know what my pronunciation would be like if I did.

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