going tonto

Michael Newman mnewman at QC.EDU
Tue May 21 01:03:44 UTC 2002

>Add that horrible, horrible pronunciation "don KWIKSET" for Quixote.
>Even in the US, the standard pronunciation for the adjective form is
>'kwiksotic.' OUCH!!
>While the average Anglo in the United States knows six words of Spanish and
>has a surprisingly good idea of Spanish pronunciation, my impression is that
>the British have as much interest in learning Spanish as they do in learning
>Mongol.  For example, take the name "Don Juan".  Byron turned it into "Don
>Jew-an" ("funny, you don't look Jewish") and Shakespeare didn't hesitate to
>name characters "Don John".
>             - Jim Landau

Nothing personal, but seems to me that Jim and I have contradictory
linguistic pet peeves. It seems to me that complaining about
Anglicizing foreign pronunciations reflects a certain ideology of
language that really doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Why shouldn't
English speakers pronounce  foreign borrowings with English
phonological rules or use spelling pronunciations for that matter? To
take that position to its logical conclusion, we should say /par 'i/
for Paris, using a uvular /r/, Taiwan with the correct tones, and so
on. That way madness or at least snobbishness lies. No one can expect
that speakers of one language will learn the original pronunciations
of words they borrow from another, and in fact attempts to do so
often end up in hypercorrections such as the British tendency to
pronounce 'machismo' /makizmo/ and all those English speakers who
insist on saying 'Barcelona' with a theta, when in fact the
"authentic" Catalan pronunciation is with /s/.

Another pet peeve: I hate the term "Anglo" particularly when applied
to me. I'm Jewish, White, or European American, but I'm no more
"Anglo" than a Nuyoriquen who learned Spanish as a second language,
as I did.
Michael Newman
Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics
Dept. of Linguistics and Communication Disorders
Queens College/CUNY
Flushing, NY 11367

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