Özil's magic left foot -- or was it Oezil's ?

David Wake dwake at STANFORDALUMNI.ORG
Thu Jun 24 23:30:39 UTC 2010

In my experience Brits are more likely than Americans to pronounce
French or German names (or loanwords) in a manner that approximates
the sound of the original.  Americans are more likely to do this with
Spanish names or loanwords.  The explanation for this is pretty
simple:  a higher proportion of Brits study French and/or German,
while a higher proportion of Americans study (or speak natively)
Spanish.  Britain is also generally more exposed than the US to
European languages (other than Spanish), so I would expect that it
generally approximates their sounds more successfully.

Examples that immediately come to mind are "Nietzsche" (which is
pronounced with a final schwa in BrE as in German, but generally with
a final [i] in AmE), "van Gogh" (with a final velar fricative for most
British speakers as in Dutch, but with an open GOAT vowel in AmE),
"Vichysoisse", (which in the US often lacks its final /z/ because of
hyperforeignism).  On the other hand, Spanish loanwords like "macho"
are often given a hyperforeign pronunciation in BrE with /x/ or some
other inappropriate sound.

The US is probably more exposed to East Asian languages, but, to the
best of my (very limited) knowledge, names from East Asia are
generally butchered by everyone (e.g. "Beijing" with a fricative
rather than an affricate seems equally popular on both sides of the


On Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 3:58 PM, David A. Daniel <dad at pokerwiz.com> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "David A. Daniel" <dad at POKERWIZ.COM>
> Subject:      =?iso-8859-1?Q?RE:_=D6zil's_magic_left_foot_--_or_was_it_Oezil's_
>              =3F?=
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>the pronunciation I have heard (from what seem to
>>be quite-well-informed-on-the-challenges British
>>play-by-play announcers)
> Whoa! Hold 'er there, Newt! The absolute worst pronouncers of foreign names
> on the planet are the Brits (except for maybe the Japanese)! If a Brit
> announcer said it one way, you can bet the ranch it's pronounced another.
> ___________________________________________
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> Franklin
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
> Joel S. Berson
> Sent: Thursday, June 24, 2010 2:04 PM
> Subject: Özil's magic left foot -- or was it Oezil's ?
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---
> The New York Times spells German soccer player
> Mesut Özil's name with a dieresis.  The
> font-deficient Boston Globe and/or Associated
> Press spell his last name Oezil.  So do they
> think the language of this player of (I assume)
> Turkish origin uses umlaut?  (Not an entirely
> serious question and requiring no answer.)
> The pronunciation I have heard (from what seem to
> be quite-well-informed-on-the-challenges British
> play-by-play announcers) is OH-zihl, but that's
> not the German O-umlaut pronunciation. (Which I'm
> finding a bit difficult to form as an initial
> vowel.)  How is the Turkish Ö pronounced?
> Joel
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