/zh/ replacing /dzh/?

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Sep 25 17:21:06 UTC 2002

The names of cities (and lots of other thibgs, and wods in general)
are, I'm sorry to say, subject exactly to such things as change and
regionalism in the language in which such words find themselves. Of
course, there are several Chinese pronunciations of "Beijing," but
they are only "guideposts" for what will happen once such a word goes
into another language (or variet of a language). This logic would
have us throw out such well-established pronunciations as [paer at s]
with its US dialect regional variant [pEr at s] (for those of us who
don't give a whack about the /E/~/ae/ distinction before /r/).

On the other hand, if this message means that speakers of English
don't get to say what the pronunciation of "Beijing" is in Chinese
(?), I withdraw all the above.

Otherwise, I don't get it.


>I don't get it.  You would laugh and point at a Chinese pronouncing the
>name of the Chinese capital correctly?  ("Ha ha!  What do those Chinese
>know, anyway?  Can't even pronounce their own language.") The spelling of
>Beijing is a Chinese representation of the name of their capital as it is
>currently pronounced there.  It isn't an English word subject to evolution
>and regional variation by speakers of American English.  The fricative
>pronunciation of the j by Americans is a misinterpretation of the Chinese
>spelling, pure and simple.
>Peter Mc.
>--On Tuesday, September 24, 2002 9:27 PM -0400 Douglas Bigham
><TlhovwI at AOL.COM> wrote:
>>"Beijing" and "Elijah" with /dzh/ sound as funny to me as "garage" does
>>with it.  I would laugh and point.
>                               Peter A. McGraw
>                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
>                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
740 Wells Hall A
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office - (517) 353-0740
Fax - (517) 432-2736

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