going tonto

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Tue May 21 12:58:22 UTC 2002

In a message dated 05/20/2002 9:05:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
mnewman at QC.EDU writes:

> >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
>  >the British have as much interest in learning Spanish as they do in
>  >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
>  >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?

In general I would not argue with your position.  However, this specific case
is different.  I am saying that American English (more properly US English,
as I have no idea whether the Canadians go along) INCLUDES a sensitivity to
Spanish pronunciation.  In the US, "Juan" is /wahn/ and anything else is
incorrect, although the usual US pronunciation of "Don Juan" is /dahn wan/.
Of course the British, who last thought about speaking Spanish in 1588, would
not realize what the correct Spanish pronunciation is.  In other words,
anything other than /wan/ is a violation of US English, although accepted in
British English.

Yet one more example of how Americans and British "are separated by a common

By the way, I avoid the word "quixotic" in speech because I still haven't
figured out to pronounce it so that people will recognize it.  /key-HOH-tay/
or /key-HOH-tee/ of course, but would anyone recognize /key-HOH-tic/?

>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.

I used "Anglo" as a handy term to refer to all non-native-Spanish-speakers in
the US, which would include inter alia list-member Salikoko Mufwene (who, due
to his work on creole languages in the New World, is probably fluent in
Spanish).  If it helps, think of "Anglo" as an abbreviation for "Anglophone",
meaning anyone (other than a Hispanic brought up speaking English) for whom
English is the primary language.

Similarly, Gamal Abdul Nasser defined "Arab" as "anyone whose native language
is Arabic", an excellent definition except that it tries to include Jews
whose birth tongue is Arabic (there are quite a few of them).  Hence "Arab"
should be defined as "a non-Jew whose native language is Arabic".

     - Jim Landau

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