[porsh] and other British English (was: Coup de grace)

Sally Donlon sod at LOUISIANA.EDU
Thu Jun 10 17:25:03 UTC 2004

Well, as a "native" American speaker and, worse, deep Southerner, I am regularly
ridiculed (locally and by friends and family across the US) for my schwa-ended
pronunciation of the vehicle made by Porsche. I also distinguish between "w" and
"hw" and hear no end of grief on that count from my adolescent daughter and her

Also, here in Cajun Country, where there exists a slight and barely conscious,
albeit historically supported, disdain for most things British, I know of a retired
racehorse named "Quick Sotti." The new owner, a friend who'd performed in "The Man
of La Mancha" during undergraduate school, didn't recognize the connection until I
wrote the horse's name down and walked her through it.

It leapt right out to me, I believe, because I do pronounce "quixotic" as if it
were English, which it is (isn't it?). And I've always assumed that the Brits
coined the adjective following on their original Anglicization of "Quixote."

Am I incorrect in all of this?

sally donlon

P.S. I also have always thought "coup de gras" had no pronounced "s" on the end.
We're so used to pronouncing "Mardi Gras" without that "s" that I guess it just
carries over for us.  -sod-

Damien Hall wrote:

> Fritz Juengling said:
> =================
> "I think you are suggesting that 'porsch' is a spelling pronunciation.  I agree
> with that.  But why should a spelling pronunciation take over?  English
> speakers must have seen the cars before they heard any German speaker sayh the
> name of the car.?
> Still seems odd that a name, and a well-known one at that, should be
> mispronounced."
> =================
> It doesn't strike me as odd really.  Whether or not British English speakers
> saw
> Porsches before they heard any German speaker say the name, I think there would
> be a frequency effect that would lead to the spelling pronunciation taking
> over, since most British English speakers who used the name of the car would be
> doing so after having seen it written on the car rather than after having heard
> a German say it.
> The reason it doesn't strike me as odd is my own observation that Brits do
> nativise a lot;  of course, 'a lot' is relative, and it only becomes obvious
> that 'a lot' of nativisation goes on in British English when you compare that
> amount with the smaller amount of nativisation done by, say, Americans.
> However common the name, I'm therefore not surprised to see it nativised;  the
> (Don) ['kwiksuht] example is another very good one.  The work I mentioned
> before statistically supports the idea that Brits tend to nativise much more
> than Americans.  I was interested to hear from Susan though that the 'native'
> American pronunciation of 'Porsche' may actually be the same as the British
> one.  That's one more indication that my theory, which I admit is based mostly
> on French and Spanish words, needs to be more nuanced.
> =================
> Then:
> "Don't the Brits also say 'Don joo-un' instead of 'don (h)wan' and 'don
> kwikset'
> instead of 'don kee-ho-tay/tee'?  Ouch!  (I can't even give in to 'kwiksotic'
> even tho I am not a Spanish speaker).  I'd be interested to see some
> nativisation or pronunciation studies."
> ================
> Well ...  'Don joo-un', as far as I'm aware, is only the Byron poem.
> Elsewhere,
> it's usually [don hwan], as, for example, when you're using the name to refer
> to someone who's a 'Casanova', a 'ladykiller' (to mix my metaphors - sorry).
> And, yes, I do, unapologetically(!), say 'don kwikset' (the last vowel is a
> schwa).  Call it inverse snobbery if you like, and I think maybe it *is*, but I
> think many Brits would think it was pretentious to use the actual Spanish
> pronunciation in an otherwise English phrase, and I'm pretty sure that use of
> the Sp pronunciation in an English context is limited to specialists:  literary
> people and Hispanicists.
> So, if you/one say(s) [ki'hoteh / ki'hoti] for 'Quixote', can someone tell me
> how 'quixotic' is pronounced?   That, of course, is just an English word, so it
> would seem really strange to me to pronounce it any other way than the English
> [kwIk'sotik].
> Fascinated,
> Damien Hall
> University of Pennsylvania

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