going tonto

Scott Sadowsky lists at SPANISHTRANSLATOR.ORG
Tue May 21 03:27:17 UTC 2002

Jim Landau:
>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".

Not to defend Byron or anything, but this pronunciation may have an
alternate explanation.  In medieval Spanish, the grapheme <j> represented
/3/, a voiced postalveolar fricative (as in the <z> of <azure>) -- it
didn't acquire its current values (anything from /h/ to /x/ to /ç/,
depending on the dialect and what follows it) until sometime after the
colonization of the Americas began.

So it's at least theoretically possible that the "Jew-an" pronunciation
(['d3u·an]) is a British adaptation of the older Spanish form, [3wan], and
not the modern one, [xwan].

Michael Newman:
>Why shouldn't English speakers pronounce  foreign borrowings
>with English phonological rules or use spelling pronunciations
>for that matter?

I'm with you on that as far as lexical items go, but when it comes to
proper names I think it's reasonable adapt foreign ones in such a way that
they at least vaguely resemble the original, within the constraints of the
phonological system of the language doing the borrowing, of course (e.g.
you can't squeeze tones out of an English speaker no matter how hard you try).

And in spite of their general ignorance of foreign languages, English
speakers are remarkably effective at this.  Spanish speakers, in contrast,
for the most part don't even try -- they simply replace the original name
with the closest Spanish equivalent whenever possible (George Washington >
Jorge Washington, (Queen) Elizabeth > (la Reina) Isabel, William Tell >
Guillermo Tell, Shimon Perez > Simón Pérez, Binyamin Netanyahu > Benjamín
Netanyahu, São Paulo > San Pablo, etc.)


Scott Sadowsky  --  Spanish-English / English-Spanish Translator

sadowsky at spanishtranslator.org · sadowsky at bigfoot.com
"Más sabe Dios por viejo que por diablo."
    -- Nicanor Parra

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