YOU SAY HIMAAHLYA, I SAY HIMALAYA.

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.]

Comments

  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.

  2. Interesting to read “it’s sad and silly to say things the way the locals do ” from a Scot ! Does that apply to names like Milngavie, Auchtermuchty,Brechin, Culross and of course Lesmahagow ?

  3. Of course it does. I can’t speak for Hutchinson, but I’m reasonably sure he’d agree with me that it would be silly to expect any non-Scot to know how to say those names; they’re perfect illustrations of his point.

  4. And by the same token, is it silly to correct non-South-Dakotan Americans who mispronounce the name of Pierre, South Dakota? (This is separate from the question of under what circumstances it’s legitimate to correct anyone’s pronunciation of anything.)

    As for Budapest, I learned the pronunciation and the name at the same time, and have never been tempted to pronounce it otherwise.

  5. And by the same token, is it silly to correct non-South-Dakotan Americans who mispronounce the name of Pierre, South Dakota?

    Depends what you mean by “correct.” Of course you shouldn’t sneer at people and parade your superior knowledge, but there’s nothing wrong with saying “By the way, the people there say ‘pier.'”

    As for Budapest, I learned the pronunciation and the name at the same time, and have never been tempted to pronounce it otherwise.

    I don’t know what you mean by “the pronunciation.” The English pronunciation rhymes with “rest”; anyone who says it the Hungarian way when speaking English would sound at least a bit pretentious (unless, of course, they were Hungarian).

  6. I recently have been commuting by car much more, and I note that the Deutschlandradio broadcasters make a (commendable) effort to conform to local phonology when reporting e.g. on the effect of the recent tourism boom in Lisbon or the latest news from Venezuela. Entertainingly enough for me, this extends to attempting an Australian accent when giving background to the economic boom there, and a distinct North American flavour when pronouncing the names of US politicians that are otherwise perfectly normal German words with perfectly normal German pronunciations!

  7. Note that I have finally gotten around to substituting the Wayback Machine archive link for the broken one in the original post.

  8. I will be impressed when they’ll start pronouncing Běijīng with tones and Xhosa with a click

  9. Exactly!

  10. David Marjanović says

    or the latest news from Venezuela.

    But the country itself remains [ˌʋeːnɛtsuˈʔeːla], right?

    Běijīng with tones

    …I actually do that, except I’m sure it just comes across as final stress.

  11. Hat: Would it be pretentious to adopt the pronunciation /pir/ if you don’t live in South Dakota? I don’t think so, even though most Americans probably say /pi.eɪr/ or something like that. Then why would it be pretentious to say /budəpɛʃt/ (which is certainly not “the Hungarian pronunciation”?) I most likely saw Budapest for the first time when I was eight or so, followed by “(BOO-duh-pesht)” or something of the sort, and I have continued to say it that way for fifty years. I probably first learned of another Central European city under the name of Lauds, but when I learned it was called Woodge with /u/, I adopted that instead. For that matter, must I say “Frood” just because my interlocutor does, or can I call him Froyd (again, not “the German pronunciation”) as I have been doing since childhood?

  12. Hat: Would it be pretentious to adopt the pronunciation /pir/ if you don’t live in South Dakota?

    No, because that’s an English word.

    Then why would it be pretentious to say /budəpɛʃt/

    Because the English pronunciation rhymes with “rest.” And I didn’t say it would be pretentious to say /budəpɛʃt/, I said it would sound at least a bit pretentious. Because it’s a foreign pronunciation. Nothing wrong with saying it that way; even Hutchinson says “I confess to a dangerous flirtation with ‘Budapesht’ myself.” I’m not laying down laws, just pointing out that it sounds a bit pretentious. I’m sure I frequently sound pretentious.

    I probably first learned of another Central European city under the name of Lauds, but when I learned it was called Woodge with /u/, I adopted that instead.

    Yeah, there is no good way to say Łódź in English. I say Woodge myself, but I cringe.

    And Froyd is the English pronunciation; obviously you have no obligation to adopt the idiosyncratic speech habits of your interlocutors.

  13. Mind you, it’s possible that if for any reason Hungary and things Hungarian are much talked about, more and more people will come to say /budəpɛʃt/, and eventually that will be the English pronunciation. I mean, I myself say /ʃandor/ for Sándor, because there is no widespread English pronunciation, so I might as well use an approximation of the Hungarian one.

  14. Marja Erwin says

    Is this a Poe?

    How can the local pronunciations, or the historical ones, be incorrect?

  15. Mind you, it’s possible that if for any reason Hungary and things Hungarian are much talked about, more and more people will come to say /budəpɛʃt/, and eventually that will be the English pronunciation.

    This may already be the case: various current American dictionaries show both pronunciations, whereas the British ones other than the OED show only /-pɛst/. (The OED doesn’t have entries for proper nouns unless they have other senses, as Canada(s) meaning ‘Canada goose/geese’ or ‘Canadian Pacific Railway share(s)’.)

    I once had occasion to introduce an American-born colleague thus: “This is [ˈsændɚ ˈkeɪkəsi], who would be called [ˈkeːkɛʃi ˈʃaːndor] if (this department) actually took internationalization seriously.” There was a roar of laughter. (Fortunately for me, my NORTH=FORCE vowel actually is [o].)

  16. Historical pronunciations can definitely be incorrect now. Nobody says Aythens (not even in Athens, N.Y., where only people over seventy even remember when it was the local pronunciation) or Lunnon any more.

  17. This may already be the case

    Sigh. Once again I am left behind by the tides of history.

    Nobody says Aythens

    Sad!

  18. Time to restress Gibraltar and Trafalgar.

  19. David Marjanović says

    How can the local pronunciations, or the historical ones, be incorrect?

    That’s a very English thing to ask, BTW. 🙂 Local pronunciations are parts of the local dialects and therefore largely ignored by Standard German, for example. In Viennese dialect, Wien is a homophone of werden, /vɛɐ̯n/; in the standard, it’s pronounced as spelled, /viːn/; in Linz, not quite 200 km west of Vienna, the exact Viennese pronunciation not only wouldn’t pose any phonological or phonetic problems, it would even be etymologically regular, but people don’t use it, not even the ones who know the Viennese one, and resort to the standard pronunciation instead.

  20. In Viennese dialect, Wien is a homophone of werden, /vɛɐ̯n/

    I never knew that! If I ever get back to Vienna, I’ll have to listen for it.

  21. Well, of course English has no standard pronunciation of its standard dialect, so the question of whether the pronunciation of a place name is “correct” or “incorrect” is really about whether it is in use or not in use.

  22. David Marjanović says:
    That’s a very English thing to ask, BTW. Local pronunciations are parts of the local dialects and therefore largely ignored by Standard German

    That’s interesting. Croatian adopts the position that the local pronunciation is the correct one. The position in the second half of the 19th century was that it is the Standard Croatian name that is correct. So, a 100 years ago, Split was Spljet, Čakovec was Čakovac and Delnice were Dionice. Only a couple of Standard Croatian pronunciations have survived and are regarded as official now – Rijeka for Reka, and Osijek for Osik.

  23. In Linz, not quite 200 km west of Vienna, the exact Viennese pronunciation not only wouldn’t pose any phonological or phonetic problems, it would even be etymologically regular, but people don’t use it, not even the ones who know the Viennese one, and resort to the standard pronunciation instead.

    That’s very odd to a Chinese perspective, too. The name of any unknown Chinese-speaking locality is written in Chinese characters, and its name in Chinese variety A usually corresponds to the local pronunciation in Chinese variety B as neogrammatically as in any other content word. When the varieties are close enough (the degree of variation of East Slavic or Upper German), even local pronunciations unpredictable from the orthography tend to be reflected neogrammatically quite well.

  24. German speakers aren’t used to big divergences between orthographie and pronunciation. The official written forms of most place names were fixed in the 19th century, and often based on older orthographic tradition; how much this corresponds to the local pronunciation depends on the circumstances. Most speakers from outside a place often don’t even know that there is a local pronunciation deviating from the official, orthography-based one; in personal experience, I remember being baffled overhearing locals calling Mühlheim (Ruhr) something like Möllm. For some bigger cities dialect forms are known and sometimes written in eye dialect by people aiming for a humorous effect or wanting to show off their local knowledge (e.g. Balin “Berlin”, Kölle “Köln (Cologne)”, Wean “Wien (Vienna)” (the eye dialect form of the latter can be found more frequently in the adjective Weaner “Viennese, person from Vienna”).

  25. German-speakers in Germany, that is. Elsewhere, big divergences between orthography and pronunciation are the rule. (Well, Sky du Mont’s Argentinian German is essentially not identifiable with any local variety.)

  26. German-speakers in Germany, that is.
    I’d rather say, native speakers of Standard German are used to being able to reliably deduce pronuciation from the spelling. Of course, any German speaker who knows a bit about foreign languages knows that German rules don’t apply there, and speakers of dialect or regional varieties know that the written Standard German doesn’t reflect their pronunciation.

  27. David Marjanović says

    of course English has no standard pronunciation of its standard dialect

    Neither does German. The difference, as Hans says, is that English-speakers expect spellings to be unreliable, while German-speakers expect all standard pronunciations to be derivable from the spelling (with a handful of exceptions in northern Germany, like the oe of Soest standing for /oː/).

    German-speakers in Germany, that is. Elsewhere, big divergences between orthography and pronunciation are the rule.

    No, this isn’t Germany vs. elsewhere, it’s standard vs. dialect. The dialects are, by and large, not representable by the orthographic conventions of Standard German (unlike the stunning Croatian situation – thanks, zyxt!), but that isn’t viewed as a discrepancy between spelling and pronunciation – it’s viewed as a situation where all written German is Standard German and the dialects have not “been reduced to writing”. The same people who say /vɛɐ̯n/ when speaking dialect say /viːn/ when speaking mesolect or Standard, no exceptions.

    Weaner “Viennese, person from Vienna”)

    Case in point (the point being that the dialects don’t fit the orthographic conventions): this is the kind of eye dialect where you need to recognize the intended dialect or a reasonably close relative to understand what kind of pronunciation is intended. In Standard/Written German, ea only occurs across morpheme boundaries and implies a syllable boundary; in reality, the word is a homophone of the name Werner (as in Heisenberg), but you won’t see it written like that because the kind of people who write eye dialect tend to shy away from such a blatant departure from etymology.

    The name of any unknown Chinese-speaking locality is written in Chinese characters, and its name in Chinese variety A usually corresponds to the local pronunciation in Chinese variety B as neogrammatically as in any other content word.

    And the Standard Mandarin form is then mechanically transcribed into toneless pinyin in paleontology papers…

    Of course the same holds for personal names, both current (e.g. as authors of scientific papers in English) and historical (with a handful of exceptions), all the way down to the first emperor.

  28. JC: […] of course English has no standard pronunciation of its standard dialect

    DM: Neither does German. The difference, as Hans says, is that English-speakers expect spellings to be unreliable, while German-speakers expect all standard pronunciations to be derivable from the spelling

    You mean that there is no one standard pronunciation, but rather there are some standard and some non-standard pronunciations? I don’t know how else to interpret you saying that there is no standard pronunciation but that all standard pronunciations are close to the spelling.

    But there truly is no standard pronunciation of Standard English: your pronunciation of it (I suppose) is no less standard than mine or Li Keqiang’s.

  29. David Marjanović says

    You mean that there is no one standard pronunciation, but rather there are some standard and some non-standard pronunciations?

    That is more or less what I’m saying. Other than the stage pronunciation, which is rarely if ever heard outside of upscale theaters, there’s a pretty wide range of pronunciations that can be interpreted into the spelling and can usually be assigned to a more or less vague geographic region but are all considered appropriate for radio/TV newscasters and the like. These pronunciations not only differ in phonetics, but even in their phoneme inventories and phonotactics; /æː/, /p͡f/, consonant length and syllable-final fortition for instance occur in some standard phonologies but not in others.

    On top of that, most (perhaps all) dialects have their own phonologies which can’t be interpreted into written German, as well as their own vocabularies and grammars. If you read a not too short German sentence and pronounced each word as its equivalent in a dialect, you generally wouldn’t get a grammatical or at least idiomatic sentence in that dialect. Similarly, reading written Mandarin (or Classical Chinese) in Cantonese pronunciation – which actually used to be done – doesn’t reliably produce grammatical Cantonese.

    But there truly is no standard pronunciation of Standard English:

    I doubt this is true for practical purposes.

  30. Actually it is, if you take a worldwide view. Actors and announcers in the U.S. don’t use the same accents as actors and nnouncers in the UK, and a U.S. president who sounded like an actor (exception: Reagan, who was an actor,) would never get elected. Add in all the other anglophone countries, and it’s clear-cut: no single accent of English dominates in all activities in all countries.

  31. and a U.S. president who sounded like an actor (exception: Reagan, who was an actor,) would never get elected.

    If you’re talking about accents rather than speech styles, I really don’t know what you mean. Some younger Hollywood actors might veer a little too far (in this context) in a Californian direction, but on the whole, actors seem to gravitate toward a General American norm that would work just fine in national politics. And it’s not as if we haven’t had presidents with a variety of accents.

    no single accent of English dominates in all activities in all countries.

    That seems like an unduly high bar for determining whether there’s a standard or prestige pronunciation – would any major languages meet it? (I’d agree that there’s certainly not one pan-Anglospheric standard, but I think major national standards would be relevant here.)

  32. Once you’ve lived in a place it’s tempting to adopt the local pronunciation when speaking in English.

    I pronounce Sapporo similar to the Japanese way (initial stress, double p), I pronounce Osaka similar to the Japanese way (long o), I pronounce Beijing the Chinese way (although with a very light touch), and I pronounce Ulaanbaatar the Mongolian way (but without the Mongolian l’s and r’s). For some reason, however, I pronounce Tokyo the English way…

    I am sure it sounds affected, but it’s hard to bring myself to pronounce them the English way… it sounds awfully … uneducated (I might even say bogan).

  33. I am sure it sounds affected, but it’s hard to bring myself to pronounce them the English way… it sounds awfully … uneducated

    I have this problem too, of course. With Russian, I say Moscow, Leningrad, and Petersburg in a perfectly normal American English way, but once we get into the provinces it’s hard for me to omit the final palatalization in Kazan and impossible to say “Orel” as in Hershiser — all I can say is “Ah-RYOL.”

  34. the final palatalization in Kazan

    Beats me how it got there in the first place: it’s Qazan in Tatar, with no palatalization.

  35. no single accent of English dominates in all activities in all countries.

    That seems like an unduly high bar for determining whether there’s a standard or prestige pronunciation – would any major languages meet it? (I’d agree that there’s certainly not one pan-Anglospheric standard, but I think major national standards would be relevant here.)
    Well, I’d say it applies for Russian – there is one standard / prestige pronunciation that is taught in schools in all Russian-speaking communities, in- and outside of Russia, and deviating from it marks you as a non-native speaker or as uneducated. From what I have read, there used to be some variety in prestigious pronuciations up to the middle of the 20th century (basically, a Moscow standard and a differing Petersburg standard), but AFAIK both of them have been almost totally replaced by the national standard promoted by Soviet schooling, radio, and TV (the promotion of which is continued by the current Russian state).

  36. Jim Parish says

    I say Moscow … in a perfectly normal American English way

    And what way is that? I grew up pronouncing the last syllable to rhyme with “cow”, but for the last couple of decades I’ve heard newscasters pronouncing it with an /o/. I don’t know if that’s a new thing, or simply something I hadn’t noticed earlier – cf. Zwicky’s Illusion of Recency.

  37. I grew up pronouncing the last syllable to rhyme with “cow”, but for the last couple of decades I’ve heard newscasters pronouncing it with an /o/.

    Now that you mention it, I’ve heard that too. I know Moscow, Idaho, is pronounced that way (at least, I think I know that), but I doubt there’s any influence from that. Maybe the pronunciation is changing, but I’ll stick with the cow I know.

  38. I think Mosco (in Russia) has mostly gone the way of Aythens, except in Idaho. Conservatively, both M-W and AHD report both pronunciations.

  39. But Jim Parish and I never heard it until recently, which doesn’t jibe with the Aythens comparison.

  40. Actually I don’t know that in Idaho they say Mosco for the Russian city, I just suppose they do. They definitely say Mosco for the Idaho city.

    I never did find out whether Gaelic football (an Irish sport) is pronounced in Scotland using the Scottish or the Irish pronunciation of Gaelic.

  41. David Marjanović says

    Actors and announcers in the U.S. don’t use the same accents as actors and nnouncers in the UK

    Announcers and TV actors use a small number of different accents within Germany, and yet others in Austria (similar to the Bavarian one) and Switzerland.

    These accents are not necessarily copies of the sound systems or sound inventories of the native dialects of the people in question. People from Vorarlberg will try to front their [χ], deaffricate their /k/ and drop an /r/ here or there when speaking Standard German, Carinthians will try to devoice their lenis plosives (to the great hypothetical surprise of any northern Germans hearing it, no doubt) and to reduce the cluster [kh] to [k], Viennese will try to distinguish fortes from lenes and will (less and less) try to pronounce diphthongs – they won’t distinguish auf dem from an dem = am, though.

    Beats me how it got there in the first place: it’s Qazan in Tatar, with no palatalization.

    All the same holds for Astrakhan, so this could be some kind of regularity. I wonder about the Cyrillicization of Mandarin, which uses н for final /ŋ/ and нь for final /n/… Tatar has a /ŋ/ in any case.

  42. Hat: You never heard anyone say Aythens either, you just read about it. Mosco, like Aythens and Cayro and the rest, just about has to be the conservative pronunciation. WP records that the postmaster of Moscow, Idaho, at the time of settlement was born in Moscow, Pennsylvania, and later moved to Moscow, California. The latter is a ghost town whose exact location (probably in Sonoma County) has apparently been forgotten, but it is recorded that the demonym was Moscovian, suggesting an ultimate connection to Russia.

  43. marie-lucie says

    JC: the postmaster of Moscow, Idaho,

    Perhaps he was trying to join fellow Muscovites? It is too much to be a coincidence.

  44. Hat: You never heard anyone say Aythens either, you just read about it.

    But I’ve never heard anyone talk about any Athens other than the Greek one. I’ve heard a whole lot of people talk about Moscow in Russia, and I haven’t heard the “conservative” pronunciation until quite recently. Of course it’s conservative in the sense that that’s probably how people said it in Georgian England, but the “cow” version has been standard American for my entire life.

    it is recorded that the demonym was Moscovian, suggesting an ultimate connection to Russia.

    Good lord, of course there’s an ultimate connection to Russia! Has anyone suggested differently?

  45. Of course it’s conservative in the sense that that’s probably how people said it in Georgian England…

    They still pronounce it with the vowel of go in the UK. I don’t think I’ve heard the “cow” variant from a Brit.

  46. Ah, thanks. So the “cow” version is purely US.

  47. marie-lucie says

    It must be folk etymology: moss-cow.

  48. Good lord, of course there’s an ultimate connection to Russia! Has anyone suggested differently?

    Indeed they have: some attribute it to a local Indian tribe, perhaps mythical, named the Masco.

    Ah, thanks. So the “cow” version is purely US.

    And probably didn’t take over until after these U.S. places, or at least the Pennsylvania one, were founded. As I noted, the U.S. dictionaries list the pronunciation.

  49. Indeed they have: some attribute it to a local Indian tribe, perhaps mythical, named the Masco.

    I’m sorry I asked!

  50. David Marjanović says

    It must be folk etymology: moss-cow.

    Or German. Moskau invariably ends in a diphthong! (Standard treatment of Slavic -ova and similar placenames.)

    a local Indian tribe, perhaps mythical

    I guess that’s a step up from the “eponymous ancestors” of Ancient Greece…!

  51. In an effort to find the roots of the emergence of the “Mosco” pronunciation in the US, I turned to music. There was Michael Jackson’s “Stranger in Moscow“, but he pronounced it to rhyme with the bovine.

    Then I remembered the smash world hit “Moscow” by Genghis Khan, which pronounced it “Mosco”. But when I looked into it further, it was apparently only a hit in Australia… and the original German was, of course, “Moskau”.

  52. Eli Nelson says

    @David Marjanović:

    Standard treatment of Slavic -ova and similar placenames.

    But, according to Wikipedia, it is also possible for proper names like this to be spelled in German with “-ow”, pronounced /o:/, or sometimes “-o”: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/-ow

  53. Huh, I didn’t know there was an English version of that.

  54. January First-of-May says

    The only English version of that song I knew was the Buffalax one.

    (Which I sadly didn’t manage to memorize completely.)

  55. I learned about the group and the song from alternative Russian version (claimed as true translation of lyrics) first.

    It goes like this:

    Москау, Москау…
    Закидаем бомбами,
    заровняем танками,
    о-хо-хо-хо-хо…
    Не добили в сорок пятом,
    так добьем в восьмидесятом,
    будет вам олимпиада,
    а-ха-ха-ха-ха…

    I was very disappointed to discover how lame and friendly the song actually was.

  56. January First-of-May says

    The Russian version I recall (from my parents’ descriptions) was this:

    Моска, Моска,
    закидаем бомбами,
    на развалинах Кремля
    будем танцевать.
    Моска, Моска,
    закидаем бомбами,
    будет вам олимпиада,
    ха-ха-ха-ха-ха…

    I wonder whether it’s yet another example of the folk process or the original “alternative” song was longer (and contained both lyrics).

  57. But, according to Wikipedia, it is also possible for proper names like this to be spelled in German with “-ow”.

    Now, what English pronunciation shall we recommend for the Slavic-derived surname of a Swedish actor of German patrilineal descent who is currently a citizen of France, like, say, Max von Sydow?

  58. Well, there was definitely a mode of thought in the Soviet Union (perpetuated, probably, by KGB) that Germans remained Nazi at heart (the idea that most Germans had been into Nazism to begin with was taken as obvious) and that it would come out at first unguarded moment. I remember reading about the surprise of Heinrich Böll when he saw or heard that in a Soviet stage production of The Clown the protagonist’s mother expressed very mild pro-Nazi sympathies in purportedly year 1963.

  59. David Marjanović says

    But, according to Wikipedia, it is also possible for proper names like this to be spelled in German with “-ow”, pronounced /o:/, or sometimes “-o”: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/-ow

    This only happens to place names in northeastern Germany (plenty of examples in and around Berlin) and to surnames from that region. It stopped being productive centuries ago. Much more recently and elsewhere, Ostrava in Moravia was Mährisch-Ostrau.

  60. January First-of-May’s comment encapsulates everything I would have said about that song as well.

  61. Yes, common folk in the Soviet Union thought that West Germans were still Nazis, perhaps slightly moderated by American influence. It came as a pleasant surprise in 1990s to discover that they were not.

    I think somewhat similar impression existed in the West with regard to East Germany.

  62. Mind you, there were plenty of Germans with Nazi sympathies after the war, they just didn’t express them in public.

  63. Piotr Gąsiorowski: Wikipedia gives /vɒn ˈsiːdoʊ/ for English, and /fɔn ˈsyːdɔv/ for Swedish – the former looking like it was adapted straight from the German.

  64. Wikipedia gives /vɒn ˈsiːdoʊ/ for English

    I don’t know where they got that, but I doubt it’s very prevalent.

  65. …looking like it was adapted straight from the German.

    With /v-/ and /s-/ rather than /f-/ and /z-/?

  66. Yeah, those two changes are typical for German names in English.

  67. David Marjanović says

    I think somewhat similar impression existed in the West with regard to East Germany.

    That one has turned out to be a bit more accurate. The German Democratic Republic had a noticeable neo-Nazi problem in the 1980s; reportedly there were some 15,000 neo-Nazis, some 1000 of them potentially violent; there were acts of xenophobia all the way to assaults on the life of Vietnamese and Africans. Ever since the reunification the extreme-right parties* and now the right-populist Alternative to Germany** have been much stronger there than in the west, not to mention Pegida and the like or of course the considerably greater frequency of arson in homes for refugees.

    Part of the reason, of course, was the country’s isolation. It’s much easier to develop irrational fears of people if you’ve never seen them.

    Another part may have been the communist tradition of continuing the 1920s’ way of thinking in terms of ethnic groups as countable units. The communication of peoples and the friendship of peoples were greatly encouraged, but the existence of clearly defined peoples was not discussed and never questioned…

    * The kind that are/were totally not Nazis but love(d) to put “national” and “social” into the same sentence.
    ** True Name.

  68. When I type “alternative for” into Google, it offers me “germany” first, followed by “baking soda”, “baking powder”, and “butter”. YMMV.

  69. marie-lucie says

    JC: unbelievable.

    Why is it that in the last few weeks my computer insists in replacing non-English words by English ones? This is happening right here (e.g. it would not accept Latin “provincia” until forced to) and also on Facebook (even worse there). Perhaps this has to do with the fact that it had been acting up so that I had to take it to the Apple Store for some drastic treatment. Any advice from Hattics?

  70. I think you can choose your preferred languages but I’m not sure if it will make much difference

  71. Marja Erwin says

    I think it’s a deliberate bug.

    I’ve had it turn up “nullification” as a hit when looking for articles on desertion in civil wars.

    I tend to put most search terms in quotes to try to prevent these substitutions, and sometimes all search terms in quotes, but even that doesn’t always work.

    I’ve had it turn up “Larimer” while looking for any articles mentioning quote “Arimer” unquote.

  72. January First-of-May says

    One common problem I find in Google searches is that, when I search for some term X that happens to be (sometimes, a homonym of) a synonym of another term Y that is a homonym of a common term Z, Google insists on giving me articles about Z (which I am most definitely not looking for) unless I clarify (and sometimes even then).

    And by the way, yes, my new browser (IE under Windows, um, 8 probably) insists on force-converting words (it even capitalized my italic tags).

    [EDIT: I don’t think it ever happened if my term X was only spelled similarly to a synonym of a homonym of a common term, though. Only if it was spelled similarly to an actual common term.]

  73. marie-lucie says

    Bathrobe: I think you can choose your preferred languages

    I use the “Canadian” keyboard which is basically the English keyboard with French diacritics added, which is very handy for French-English bilingualism. That worked fine until recently, but now the computer wants to impose its own idea of what English words I might be trying to write when the words I want are French (or other non-English).

  74. David Marjanović says

    That’s not the keyboard layout, it’s the language your browser (!) uses for its (!) spellchecker.

  75. marie-lucie says

    How do I find it and set it for more than one language (or just disable it)?

  76. David Marjanović says

    To disable it in Firefox (I haven’t found how to change the language), click on the three horizontal lines at the right end of the address etc. bar, then choose Settings, then Extended; it’s at the very bottom. Similar things should work in all browsers.

  77. marie-lucie says

    Thanks David, but we must have different versions. Except for the 3 bars I did not find those other things on Firefox. Even less on Safari.

  78. David Marjanović says

    Announcers and TV actors use a small number of different accents within Germany, and yet others in Austria (similar to the Bavarian one) and Switzerland.

    Two further clarifications: 1) There is exactly one TV actor who uses stage pronunciation on TV, the Tyrolian Tobias Moretti, and that’s because he’s also a Burgschauspieler (actor at Austria’s most upscale theater, the Burgtheater in Vienna). 2) Many politicians don’t stick with any standard accent, but code-switch into dialect on occasion to appear folksier (and/or because they can’t keep it up); on top of that, some deliberately try to code-switch within words, most notably Wolfgang Schüssel (at the time – last decade – head of the conservative party and of the government) who replaced standard /a/ and /aː/ by dialectal /ɒ/ seemingly at random. The one who does this the least appears to be the current president, who comes from so far west and up in Tyrol that his native* dialect is an Alemannic rather than a Bavarian one.

    * For practical purposes. He was actually born in Estonia, which goes part of the way to explaining why his last name is Van der Bellen.

  79. He was actually born in Estonia, which goes part of the way to explaining why his last name is Van der Bellen.

    Oh, yes, a nice family saga.

  80. Stephen C. Carlson says

    He was actually born in Estonia, which goes part of the way to explaining why his last name is Van der Bellen.
    Wikipedia however says that he was born in Vienna in 1944, after his Estonian citizen parents were rendered stateless in 1940 upon the Soviet invasion of the country and fled to Germany.

  81. David Marjanović says

    Ah, I heard it wrong, then.

  82. I would be fine with calling the actor Max von Pseudo, but I’m even happier not having to refer to him at all.

  83. Getting back to the subject of the post title, a relevant quote from John Keay’s TLS review (November 13, 2020) of Himalaya: A human history by Ed Douglas:

    Most of us know this spine as “the Himalayas”. But the term, a Sanskrit compound of hima meaning “snow” and ālaya meaning “abode”, needs neither definite article nor plural ending, and it ought to be pronounced “Himālaya”. Douglas quotes Sir Geoffrey Corbett, a founder of the Himalayan Club. Writing in 1929, Corbett confessed to having noticed “a tendency among superior folk to say Himālaya” and felt obliged to go along with it on etymological grounds.

    I myself have a problem saying it; having studied Sanskrit, I have a strong pull towards the “Himālaya” version (with antepenultimate stress), but I have an equally strong feeling that this is pretentious in English. What to do??

  84. What to do??

    A wicked word, for which no solution is a happy solution. Akin to incom[m]unicado: either spelling will be deemed wrong by some cohort of literate readers. I sometimes strike out such words or phrases when developing applications for research funding.

  85. ālaya is cognate with English slime. What fun!
    The semantic connection is through ‘stay’-‘stick’.

  86. And hima is a good old IE word (Ancient Greek χεῖμα, Slavic *zimà ‘winter’).

  87. Lars Mathiesen says

    FWIW, Danish has Hima’laya (as a region) or Hima’layabjergene (the mountains specifically) — cp Pyrenæerne — so apart from default Fremdwort stress (and ignorance of vowel length) we do treat it as a single name.

    (I feel like I may have heard [hiˈmɑːlaja] in old audio recordings of contemporaries of Karen Blixen — I clearly remember KB herself using [ˈkʰeːnʏa] where my generation and later have [ˈkʰɛnja] in imitation of English, but I don’t know why she would have discussed the Himalayas so that probably wasn’t her).

  88. [ˈkʰeːnʏa]?

    My impression is that the African pronunciation has a [nʲ] (distinct from English [nj]).

  89. David Eddyshaw says

    The name seems to be based on a European mishearing in any case, so I suppose there is no objective reason to think that [nʲ] is more “authentic” or anything.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Kenya#Local_culture

    There is a shibboleth in English pronunciation about Kenn-ya versus Keen-ya, but I can never remember which is supposed to be the posh one. I say it the first way, so I suppose the second way is the prestigious one …

    It would be [ɲ] in the Swahili Jamhuri ya Kenya, but that doesn’t strike me as having any particular bearing on how to say “Kenya” in English. Or Danish.

    On the other hand, I shall now take to pronouncing “Ghana” as [ɣa:na] in order to inspire fear.

  90. Speaking of, did any of Nigeria / Côte d’Ivoire / Sierra Leone / Niger ever seriously consider changing to a non-European name?

  91. David Eddyshaw says

    I don’t think so. In Nigeria, you’d run into the problem that the country is so diverse linguistically and culturally that coming up with an “African” name that everyone agreed on would be a nightmare; I dare say that similar problems would arise elsewhere. Props to Nkrumah for thinking ahead … and to Thomas Sankara for sheer ingenuity …

    “Niger” (the river) is probably an indigenous African name from somewhere, at any rate.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_River#Etymology

    Most people seem to call it “Big River”, which seems fair enough. (I’ve seen it. It is, indeed, Big.)
    [The Kusaasi are even less imaginative with the White Volta, which is called just “River.” But then, the possibilities for confusion are limited thereabouts.]

  92. The Tuareg-French history of Niger I recently reviewed (Prasse and Mohamed 2019) gives the river’s Tamajeq name as Ənəgger; the country, however, is Nižer. There are a certain number of neologisms in the book, but I have no reason to assume this is one of them.

    A bit rude of Nkrumah to preempt what would have been a great name for the short-lived union of Mali and Senegal. But the Soninké, to whom the name more rightfully belongs, seem unlikely to be at the heart of any state any time soon. (And the name is Berber anyway; in Soninké it’s Wagadu…)

  93. David Eddyshaw says

    A bit rude of Nkrumah to preempt what would have been a great name for the short-lived union of Mali and Senegal

    Nkrumah was not short of chutzpah … though admittedly, it’s a bit like calling Wales “The Holy Roman Empire.” (On the other hand … yes, I can see it …)

    The Tamajeq name for the Niger is interesting. It would make a lot of sense for the Europeans to have picked up a Berber name for the river.

    Talking of Wagadu, I have often wondered about the name Ouagadougou. The Mooré Waogdgu doesn’t, as far as I can make out, have a transparent meaning for Mooré speakers. (At a pinch, I think you could make it mean “Place of the Praise Singers”, but that’s frankly quite a stretch. It might be completely impossible, depending on the tones of the place name, which I’ve never been able to discover.)

    I suspect it’s Moorecized from something else, and the -dugu bit looks pretty Mande-like.

  94. The Central African Republic is a conveniently transparent name and translates to any language. Do Ivoiriens use the French or English name when speaking local languages, or do they translate it? As far as I can tell from Wikipedia entries, a translated version of the name is common worldwide; the phonetic version is commoner in West Africa, plus the former Soviet Union.

  95. @Y: I know that a name change was considered at one point in Niger, but I don’t know why they ultimately decided to keep the old name. I don’t know anything specific about the other countries you mentioned, but I suspect that in Côte d’Ivoire, the extensive use of French by the economic and political elite would militate strongly against changing the name of that state.

  96. David Eddyshaw says

    Do Ivoiriens use the French or English name when speaking local languages, or do they translate it?

    I’m not very clued up on the languages of Côte d’Ivoire, but FWIW, in Supyire (one of the Senufo languages) the name of the country is Korowaare.

    Ivoiriens are pretty insistent, at any rate, that their country is definitely not called “Ivory Coast.”

  97. David Eddyshaw says

    I can’t find “Côte d’Ivoire” in Elders’ Kulango grammar, but “Ivoirien” is ivwaryɛ̃̀. For some reason.

  98. Lars Mathiesen says

    [ˈkʰeːnʏa]? — yes, clearly trisyllabic. KB did live in the area, but I don’t know what ethnicity the workers on her farm had. In any case she may have spoken to them in Swahili but it was clearly not the modern Swahili form with /ɲ/ she used in Danish — it may well have been the local English pronunciation of the time.

  99. As far as I can tell from Wikipedia entries, a translated version of the name is common worldwide; the phonetic version is commoner in West Africa, plus the former Soviet Union
    In Germany, Elfenbeinküste is still frequently used, but the German government and many NGOs follow the injunctions of the Ivoirien government and use the French designation.

  100. Jen in Edinburgh says

    The Kusaasi are even less imaginative with the White Volta, which is called just “River.”

    But that’s also true of every Esk and Avon, of which there are plenty – it always gives me an interesting idea of the kind of people who named them. The Water of Leith is at least *this* water rather than someone else’s water!

  101. PlasticPaddy says

    @jen
    You are perhaps assuming those were intended as names in the language of the natives before their language was replaced. I can think of several alternatives, e.g.,
    (1) L2 speaker asks “What do you call that?” Native answers “river/water”
    (2) L2 speaker asks “what do you call that river?” Native answers “the river is an angry god. If you say his name outside of a ceremony, he will flood the village. So we normally just say river, water, something like that.”

  102. Jen in Edinburgh says

    … and having jumped in at the end of the comments, I’ve now noticed that this is originally from Angry Corrie. How odd.

    In that context I certainly don’t think it’s wrong, or even pretentious, to pronounce the ‘ch’ in Ben Challum the Gaelic way, or know how to say Bidein a’ Choire Sheasgaich rather than calling it Cheesecake – and I’m struggling to see just where the dividing line comes in.

    (I mean, nothing wrong with doing the best you can with some very odd looking names – you don’t have to learn Gaelic to climb the mountains – but don’t go telling me that using a Gaelic standard pronunciation is sad and silly when you haven’t bothered to come up with an English spelling. (Always talking about Beinn Nibheis *would* be pretentious!))

    I didn’t see this the first time round, somehow, so I’m having All My Thoughts now.

    Does that apply to names like Milngavie, Auchtermuchty, Brechin, Culross and of course Lesmahagow?

    Well, apart from interchangability of ch (IPA x) and k, I wouldn’t say that any of these have different names in different standards – they have a single pronunciation which isn’t immediately obvious from the spelling. So yes, getting it wrong once or twice is natural, but I’d still find it odd (and possibly rude) to insist on using a spelling pronounciation and go round claiming you were right.

    (I’d also take Auchtermuchty out of the list and put Kirkcudbright in, but there are plenty of candidates!)

    How can the local pronunciations, or the historical ones, be incorrect?

    Incorrect is a loaded word round here, but I’d say it was bordering on it to deliberately say ‘Glesgae’ in standard English – pretty pretentious at least, in a reverse-snobbery kind of way.

  103. In that context I certainly don’t think it’s wrong, or even pretentious, to pronounce the ‘ch’ in Ben Challum the Gaelic way, or know how to say Bidein a’ Choire Sheasgaich rather than calling it Cheesecake

    I suspect you’re thinking of a situation where someone is visiting Scotland and refusing to use the local pronunciation, which is indeed annoying (though not actually reprehensible, since different people have different abilities to tweak their use of language). But when Hutchinson says “to say things the way the locals do,” he’s talking about the locals somewhere else in the world — to be in Scotland or America or wherever and insist on larding one’s English with ostentatious un-English pronunciations (using, if possible, un-English phonemes) simply to show off. As he says: “were we planning on spending the rest of our lives saying ‘Paree’ for Paris?”

  104. Lars Mathiesen says

    I think it makes a difference if you have had a daily life _in_ the local language and then have to talk about landmarks and so on in another language, even your own native one. About the only place in Stockholm that I use a Danish name for is the Central Station, because [senˈtrɑ:lstɑˌɧunn̩] is needlessly esoteric when I can say [ˈhoʊð̠b̥an:g̥ɒ?n]. It would feel very strange to pronounce Tegnérgatan [tʰɛŋˈneːrgɑtɑn] as if it was Tegnergaden [ˈtˢɐ?jnəg̥aðn̩].

  105. Jen in Edinburgh says

    I suspect you’re thinking of a situation where someone is visiting Scotland and refusing to use the local pronunciation, which is indeed annoying (though not actually reprehensible, since different people have different abilities to tweak their use of language).

    Well, I do think there’s a different between saying ‘breekin’ or ‘oktermukty’ because those are the closest sounds you have to hand – which is more a variant than a mispronunciation – and refusing to say ‘millguy’ because you think spelling it Milngavie is silly (which it is, of course).

    But no – in the specific context of the Angry Corrie (a Scottish hillwalking zine, for anyone confused), I was reacting to the idea that using local pronunciations of _mountain_ names is somehow wrong, with the Highlands of Scotland as the ‘somewhere else in the world’ and (say) Edinburgh or London as the English speaking ‘here’. If it’s wrong to use Himalayan pronunciations elsewhere, presumably it would be wrong to use Gaelic ones.

    It’s partly a question of what ‘an accepted English pronunciation’ is, I suspect. As I said, it would be silly to insist on a Gaelic pronunciation of Ben Nevis, which has a ubiquitous English spelling and pronunciation. But my feeling is that it would also be silly to insist (for example) on ‘stuck’ for ‘stùc’ written the Gaelic way, even if most hillwalkers (mis)pronounce it that way, and understand each other. (I would accept it, but I wouldn’t privilege it for being English.)

  106. Ivoiriens are pretty insistent, at any rate, that their country is definitely not called “Ivory Coast.”

    Why?
    ———-
    In Russian it was Берег Слоновой Кости (the historical coast still is).
    Now it is Кот д’Ивуар.

    But Кот д’Ивуар is impossible to pronounce.
    The apostrophe means “do not liaise!”;-((((

  107. I suspect you’re thinking of a situation where someone is visiting Scotland and refusing to use the local pronunciation, which is indeed annoying (though not actually reprehensible, since different people have different abilities to tweak their use of language).

    The relevant abilities are of at least two types. Běijīng without tones is one thing (lack of ability to produce them at will). The notorious Beizhing is another (lack of competence in deploying a far better and perfectly available approximation than /zh/). Poonjab is another case of this second lack, complicated by many Panjabis actually adopting the “oo” when speaking English. And I have heard native French speakers say “lions” for Lyon – an older English pronunciation of Lyons that many of us have never encountered, let alone used.

    The apostrophe means “do not liaise!”

    Am I the only one still allergic to liaise? I avoid it almost as strenuously as a phenomena and to birth.

  108. David Eddyshaw says

    @drasvi:

    I merely report. I cannot explain the phenomenon, though I imagine it has to do with the general Francophone paranoia regarding the unworthy English language displacing the One True Civilised Speech, as much as anything.

    My impression is that West Africans, all things being equal*, find French a good bit easier to pronounce than English. It’s not so consonant-cluster-heavy, and the vowel system is a good bit less exotic. Doesn’t have those peculiar /θ/ /ð/ consonants all over the place, either. Or a gratuitously complicated stress system.

    * Which they never are …

  109. David Eddyshaw says

    Missed a trick: that should have been: I cannot explain this phenomena …

  110. It’s all Kant. His ominous prolegomena, phenomenon and noumenon.

  111. Why “omens” and not “omina”? Is not “omina” more ominous?

  112. Mathematicians at some point argued as to whether the plural of topos should be topoi or toposes. Topoi won, I think, but some wise guy said, “The reader will already have observed that I use the English plural: I do so because (in its mathematical sense) the word topos is not a direct derivative of its Greek root, but rather a back-formation from topology. I have nothing further to say on the matter, except to ask those toposophers who persist in talking about topoi whether, when they go out for a ramble on a cold day, they carry supplies of hot tea with them in thermoi.”

  113. the word topos is not a direct derivative of its Greek root, but rather a back-formation from topology
    -os, though, is not a part of “topology”, but a Greek nom.sg. ending attached to it…

  114. January First-of-May says

    A bit rude of Nkrumah to preempt what would have been a great name for the short-lived union of Mali and Senegal.

    Mali was in fact the name of the union (which was then retained by its non-Senegal part after the split); prior to the union, the aforementioned non-Senegal part was in fact known as the Sudanese Republic (not to be confused with Republic of the Sudan on the other side of Africa).

    But Кот д’Ивуар is impossible to pronounce.
    The apostrophe means “do not liaise!”;-((((

    In practice it tends to get interpreted as “do not palatalize!”, which then triggers the change to /ɨ/; in other words, it’s effectively pronounced as if spelled “Дывуар”.

    It’s all Kant. His ominous prolegomena, phenomenon and noumenon.

    Unpopular opinion: the plural of hapax legomenon should be hapaces legomenon.
    (IIRC I have actually seen hapaces for the shortened form; Google searches confirm that this does in fact occur.)

  115. Why not legomena?

  116. January First-of-May says

    Why not legomena?

    AFAIK hapax legomena is the accepted plural, and is of course also the grammatically correct one. My search did find an instance of hapaces legomena [sic], in a Wikipedia discussion.

    (A further search finds that hapaxes legomenon and hapaxes legomena also both appear, but hapaces legomenon is apparently unique to me.)

  117. David Marjanović says

    a back-formation from topology

    Ah, like taxon, pl. taxa, is backformed from taxonomy, which should really be taxinomy (and indeed usually is taxinomie in French, see also: psychanalyse) because it’s from τάξις “arrangement, ordering”.

  118. The OED says “The regular combining form in Greek is ταξι- (in e.g. ταξίαρχος taxiarch n.): compare taxinomy n.” And s.v. taxinomy we find these citations:

    1865 Bendyshe tr. I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in tr. Blumenbach Anthropol. Treat. Pref. 11 Truths whose importance no one can dispute in anthropological taxinomy [Fr. taxonomie anthropologique].
    1866 Reader 15 Dec. 1066 Those sciences of life which modern teaching has, with inexact taxinomy, and worse Greek, termed Biology.
    1899 Nature 21 Sept. 489/2 The position that all taxinomy (which form he prefers, on etymological grounds, to the more usual ‘taxonomy’) must conform to logical requirements.

  119. ktschwarz says

    How come taxinomy gets its own entry and isn’t just a spelling variant of taxonomy? And even weirder, when taxonomy got a full revision in 2013, taxinomy was left unrevised! WTF is up with that?

    French Wikipedia has a very long and detailed discussion of taxonomie/taxinomie. The word taxonomie was coined in French in 1813 by de Candolle, a Swiss botanist; but in the second edition of his book, he added a note:

    « Il serait plus exact de dire Taxéonomie ; mais j’ai cru devoir admettre la suppression de l’e, pour rendre le mot plus court. »[9] Cela montre que De Candolle a en réalité fait dériver son terme taxonomie, non pas du nominatif τάξις (taxis) mais de son génitif τάξεως (taxeôs)[10].

    It says some Francophone botanists actually make a distinction between taxinomie = taxi- + nómos, which concerns classification, and taxonomie = tax- + ónoma, which concerns nomenclature — a clever retcon. And some zoologists have used taxionomie!

    Other languages (e.g. German, Spanish, Italian, Russian as well as English) have just continued with the taxo- spelling, which had a head start. But in French apparently it’s still being fought over:

    Le terme est devenu d’usage courant au XXIe siècle, soit dans la graphie originale, taxonomie[29,30], même si celle-ci est étymologiquement contestée[31,32,33,34,35] voire considérée comme fautive[36], soit sous la graphie corrigée par Émile Littré, taxinomie avec un « i »[37,38,39,40,41,42], même si cette dernière est sciemment réfutée[43]. Le remplacement du « o » par un « i » est perçu par certains comme du purisme, qui lui préfèrent le terme « taxonomie », en faisant valoir un usage majoritaire, la cohérence et un « principe de priorité »[43,44,45,46,15,10].

  120. Il serait plus exact de dire Taxéonomie ; mais j’ai cru devoir admettre la suppression de l’e, pour rendre le mot plus court

    Cf. daguerr(é)otype.

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