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The Expansionist
Thursday, January 17, 2008
 
Mispranunseeyaeshanz Evreehwair.
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(This blog is published, first, in phonetic (Fanetik) spelling and only then in standard English spelling. If you wish to skip to the traditionally spelled text (albeit with a few simplifications here and there), click here.)
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[Reeviezd 1/18/08 tu adres, in a "P.S.", mispranunseeyaeshanz uv "macho", "machismo", and "Nevada".]
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Peepool puzoold bi mi insistans on rieting this blog fanetikle uv laet du not apreesheeyaet hou much trubool tha tradishanal speling uv Ingglish kauzaz. In reesant daez I haav maed a shaurt list uv mispranunseeyaeshanz I haav herd on telavizhan, frum peepool hu shood noe beter. Tha vietamin suplamant Wun a Dae Waet Smort Aadvaanst iz aadvertiezing on telavizhan. The feemail anounser sez it nou kantaenz ga.rón.a (faur "guarana"). No, it kantaenz gwòr.a.nóq.
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Kristafer Maatthyuez on his kaebool TV sho Hordbaul yesterdae sed ferst ka.làe.da.skóp.ik aand then ka.láe.da.skòep faur "kaleidoscopic" aand "kaleidoscope". He misred the EI aaz repreezenting a laung-A. O, EI kaan repreezent a laung-A sound (reign, vein, weigh). But not in "kaleidoscope". Hou iz wun tu noe?
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Tha naaraeter uv a dokyoomentare about Kortthaj on kaebool chaanal Histare Internaashanal sed ba.léer.ik faur tha "Balearic" Ielandz: bòl.ee.yór.ik.
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Tha naaraeter on tha Graet Waul episoed uv tha Traaval Chaanal'z seereez Wauking tha Werld reepeetadle mispranounst "Uighur" aaz yúe.ger, hairaaz it iz aakchuewale tu be pranounst wée.goor aur, maur simple in Ingglish, wée.ger. Thaat so eeritaetad me thaat I ternd tha sho auf.
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Thair or mene werdz in hwich aulternat pranunseeyaeshanz or rekagniezd bi maejer dikshanereez, but nun uv tha werdz abuv haaz ene such alternat pranunseeyaeshan. If yu or goewing tu yuez on telavizhan a werd yau'r not aabsaluetle shuer uv, aand espeshale if yu haav tu yuez it reepeetadle aur in a plaes, liek a kamershal, hwair it wil be herd agen aand agen, look it up! Iz thaat tue much tu aask? Apaarantle it iz.
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If we haad a fanetik speling sistam, liek Fanetik, yu woodan't haav tu look ene werd up, beekauz tha speling wood autamaatikale tel yu, unaambigyuewasle, hou tu pranouns it. But peepool preetend we doen't need ene such speling sistam. We kaan aulwaez look tthingz up. But (a) mene werdz or shoen bi dikshanereez tu haav maur thaan wun pranunseeyaeshan, so hou or yu tu noe hwich iz preeferd bi ejookaetad peepool? aand (b) aaz shoen bi the egzaampoolz abuv, peepool oenle rairle aakchuewale du look up eneetthing.
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(Tha kerant Y.S. militere detth toel in Eerok, akaurding tu tha websiet "Eerok Koewalishan Kaazhuewalteez", iz 3,926 — faur Izreeyal.)
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P.S. Aafter I uploedad tha diskushan abuv, I wocht tha Laet Laet Sho witth Kreg Fergasan aand herd Fergasan sae máa.cho faur "macho", aand hiz gest, Traes Aadkinz, sae ma.kéez.mo faur "machismo". Fergasan haaz aan ekskyues, in thaat boetth uv thoez pranunseeyaeshanz or Britisizamz, aand Fergasan wuz raezd in Skotland. But Aadkinz iz frum tha Y.S. Soutth, so haaz no reezan tu pranouns a Spaanish werd in aan Itaalyan faashan. Tha proper pranunseeyaeshanz, in Ingglish, or móch.o aand mo.chéez.mo.
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I aulso reememberd thaat NBK Nietle Nuez, braudkaasting frum Los Vaegas, aakchuewale aird a nuez reepaurt about peepool frum tha staet uv Navoda kamplaening thaat outsiederz pranouns tha naem uv thaat staet in tha proper faashan, witth a braud Spaanish-A (saem aaz Ingglish shaurt-O) faur tha strest silabool: na.vód.a. Sum Navoda yohuez get hyuejle indignant aat nuezkaasterz aand such hu du not sae thair preferans, na.váad.a. I haav nuez faur Navoda yohuez: yu du not kantroel the Ingglish laanggwaj — aand never wil.
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"Nevada" (meening "snoe-kuverd") iz frum SPAANISH, aand iz givan tha reespektfool semee-Spaanish pranunseeyaeshan na.vód.a bi ejookaetad peepool aul around tha werld. In liek faashan, peepool frum "Oregon" hu sae ór.a.gan shood not be upset if much uv tha werld seez thaat speling aaz beeying pranounst áu.ra.gòn.
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Loekalz du not kantroel tha pranunseeyaeshan uv thair loekaalite bi peepool akraus the Ingglish-speeking werld. We du not, aafter aul, sae nu yauk just bekauz sum naetiv Nu Yaurkerz drop the R. Naur du we sae nu jói.ze just beekauz a vaanishing fyu Naurtth Jerzeeyanz sae thaat.
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Hou mene peepool speek Ingglish? reed it? The aanserz or hord tu be shuer uv, in thaat thair or aat ene givan tiem sumtthing liek a bilyan peepool trieying tu lern tha laanggwaj aur impruev thair Ingglish. Wun websiet estimaets thaat tha number uv peepool kaepabool uv yuezing Ingglish tu reed tthingz on the Internet iz oever 2 bilyan! Tha British Kounsal estimaets thair or 750 milyan, aand groewing. (Tha British Kounsal iz a kwozee-guvernmental kaurparaeshan thaat, amung uther tthingz, teechaz British Ingglish in 53 kuntreez. The Yoonietad Staets Guvernmant haaz a similer proegraam, the Aufis uv Ingglish Laanggwaj Proegraamz, tu teech karekt (thaat iz, [Naurtth] Amairikan) Ingglish.
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Bi kontraast, thair or 2.5 milyan peepool in Navoda, not aul uv huem speek Ingglish. 2.5 milyan iz 1/3 uv 1% uv tha loewer estimat faur peepool around tha werld hu kaan reed Ingglish, aand 0.13% uv tha hieyer figyer. Thaat tiene gruep iz NOT, reepeet NOT, goewing tu diktate tu tha 99 2/3% aur 99.87%, hou Ingglish iz pranounst.
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Mauroever, a faurtth uv Navodanz or Hispaanik! Miet Hispaanik Navodanz be indignant thaat Aanggloez mispranouns "Nevada"? Maebe thae need tu speek up aand tel Aanglo yohuez it shood be sed, in Ingglish, na.vód.a!
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"Armada" wuz faur senchereez pranounst or.máe.da in Ingglish, hwich it enterd, frum Spaanish, around 1530. Then, aaz Inggland beekaem les insyooler aand the Yoonietad Staets beekaem intimat witth Laatin Amairika, aand espeshale Meksiko, tha kerant Spaanish-stieyal pranunseeyaeshan or.mód.a grajoowale reeplaest the oelder pranunseeyaeshan, aultho Dikshanere.kom stil shoez or.máe.da aaz aan aulternat pranunseeyaeshan. Kyuereeyasly, tha Kaembrij Dikshanereez websiet duz not sho eneetthing but tha Spaanish-stieyal pranunseeyaeshan.
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Thair or, it iz tru, a lot uv werdz frum Spaanish, liek "rodeo", thaat haav bin ttherale aanglisiezd, aand not disreespektfoole tu Spaanish. Noet, houwever, thaat "Rodeo Drive" in Beverle Hilz taeks a maur-Spaanish pranunseeyaeshan, roe.dáe.yo. (The aaakchuewal Spaanish pranunseeyaeshan iz roe.tháe.yo.)
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Thaat sum Kolarodanz disliek a Spaanish-stieyal pranunseeyaeshan faur thair staet aand thaat sum Navodanz beekum fyuereeyas aat a Spaanish-stieyal pranunseeyaeshan faur thair staet iz uv absoluetle no impaurtans. Yu doen't liek yaur staet's haaving a Spaanish naem? Chaenj tha staet's naem! But aaz laung aaz yu du haav a Spaanish naem, doen't be serpriezd thaat ejookaetad peepool aul oever this plaanat se it aaz Spaanish aand pranouns it akaurdingle.
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Mispronunciations Everywhere.
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[Revised 1/18/08 to address, in a "P.S.", mispronunciations of "macho", "machismo", and "Nevada".]
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People puzzled by my insistence on writing this blog phonetically of late do not appreciate how much trouble the traditional spelling of English causes. In recent days I have made a short list of mispronunciations I have heard on television, from people who should know better. The vitamin supplement One a Day Weight Smart Advanced is advertising on television. The female announcer says it now contains ga.rón.a (for "guarana"). No, it contains gwòr.a.nóq.
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Christopher Matthews on his cable TV show Hardball yesterday said first ka.làe.da.skóp.ik and then ka.láe.da.skòep for "kaleidoscopic" and "kaleidoscope". He misread the EI as representing a long-A. Oh, EI can represent a long-A sound (reign, vein, weigh). But not in "kaleidoscope". How is one to know?
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The narrator of a documentary about Carthage on cable channel History International said ba.léer.ik for the Balearic Islands: bòl.ee.yór.ik.
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The narrator on the Great Wall episode of the Travel Channel's series Walking the World repeatedly mispronounced "Uighur" as yúe.ger, whereas it is actually to be pronounced wée.goor or, more simply in English, wée.ger. That so irritated me that I turned the show off.
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There are many words in which alternate pronunciations are recognized by major dictionaries, but none of the words above has any such alternate pronunciation. If you are going to use on television a word you're not absolutely sure of, and especially if you have to use it repeatedly or in a place, like a commercial, where it will be heard again and again, look it up! Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is.
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If we had a phonetic spelling system, like Fanetik, you wouldn't have to look any word up, because the spelling would automatically tell you, unambiguously, how to pronounce it. But people pretend we don't need any such spelling system. We can always look things up. But (a) many words are shown by dictionaries to have more than one pronunciation, so how are you to know which is preferred by educated people? and (b) as shown by the examples above, people only rarely actually do look up anything.
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P.S. After I uploaded the discussion above, I watched the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and heard Ferguson say máa.cho for "macho", and his guest, Trace Adkins, say ma.kéez.mo for "machismo". Ferguson has an excuse, in that both of those pronunciations are Briticisms, and Ferguson was raised in Scotland. But Adkins is from the U.S. South, so has no reason to pronounce a Spanish word in an Italian fashion. The proper pronunciations, in English, are móch.o and mo.chéez.mo.
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I also remembered that NBC Nightly News, broadcasting from Las Vegas, actually aired a news report about people from the state of Nevada complaining that outsiders pronounce the name of that state in the proper fashion, with a broad Spanish-A (same as English short-O) for the stressed syllable: na.vód.a. Some Nevada yahoos get hugely indignant at newscasters and such who do not say their preference, na.váad.a. I have news for Nevada yahoos: you do not control the English language — and never will.
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"Nevada" (meaning "snow-covered") is from SPANISH, and is given the respectful semi-Spanish pronunciation na.vód.a by educated people all around the world. In like fashion, people from "Oregon" who say ór.a.gan should not be upset if much of the world sees that spelling as being pronounced áu.ra.gòn.
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Locals do not control the pronunciation of their locality by people across the English-speaking world. We do not, after all, say nu yauk just because some native New Yorkers drop the R. Nor do we say nu jói.ze just because a vanishing few North Jerseyans say that.
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How many people speak English? read it? The answers are hard to be sure of, in that there are at any given time something like a billion people trying to learn the language or improve their English. One website estimates that the number of people capable of using English to read things on the Internet is over two billion! The British Council estimates there are 750 million, and growing. (The British Council is a quasi-governmental corporation that, among other things, teaches British English in 53 countries. The United States Government has a similar program, the Office of English Language Programs, to teach correct (that is, [North] American) "English".)
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By contrast, there are 2.5 million people in Nevada, not all of whom speak English. 2.5 million is 1/3 of 1% of the lower estimate for people around the world who can read English, and 0.13% of the higher figure. That tiny group is NOT, repeat NOT, going to dictate to the 99 2/3% or 99.87% how English is pronounced.
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Moreover, a fourth of Nevadans are Hispanic! Might Hispanic Nevadans be indignant that Anglos mispronounce "Nevada"? Maybe they need to speak up and tell Anglo yahoos it should be said, in English, na.vód.a!
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"Armada" was for centuries pronounced or.máe.da in English, which it entered, from Spanish, around 1530. Then, as England became less insular and the United States became intimate with Latin America, and especially Mexico, the current Spanish-style pronunciation or.mód.a gradually replaced the older pronunciation, altho Dictionary.com still shows or.máe.da as an alternate pronunciation. Curiously, the Cambridge Dictionaries website does not show anything but the Spanish-style pronunciation.
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There are, it is true, a lot of words from Spanish, like "rodeo", that have been thoroughly anglicized, and not disrespectfully to Spanish. Note, however, that "Rodeo Drive" in Beverly Hills takes a more-Spanish pronunciation, roe.dáe.yo. (The actual Spanish pronunciation is roe.tháe.yo.) That some Coloradans dislike a Spanish-style pronunciation for their state and that some Nevadans become furious at a Spanish-style pronunciation for their state is of absolutely no importance. You don't like your state's having a Spanish name? Change the state's name! But as long as you do have a Spanish name, don't be surprised that educated people all over this planet see it as Spanish and pronounce it accordingly.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 3,926 — for Israel.)


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