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The Expansionist
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Butchering the English Language. There have recently come into vogue two odious mispronunciations of long-established English words, "Chile" and "Chilean". As with "Nicaragua" some years back, some people in media insist on Spanicizing these words, as tho they speak Spanish and don't know the proper English pronunciation. So instead of the correct chíl.ee and chíl.ee.yan, it's all of a sudden chíl.ae or chée.lae and chi.láe.yan. No, it's not.
"A little learning is a dangerous thing." A lot of people who have a vague idea of the sounds of Spanish have decided that all things from Spanish should be pronounced in the Spanish fashion, but they don't really KNOW Spanish. Nor are they consistent.
The Spanish for "Chilean" is NOT chi.láe.yan but "chileno", all lowercase (chee.láe.no). So shouldn't these U.S. media types say "chileno"? No, of course not. The ENGLISH word is "Chilean", and when you are speaking English, you should use the English word, pronounced in the English fashion. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
English is a language to itself, entitled to its own words, with their own pronunciations. Indeed, what we charitably continue to call "English" but which has, for more than a century, been dominated by the United States, is the most important language in the history of the world, spoken as first, second, or auxiliary language by more people, more widely across the planet, than any other, now or in the past. It is important that, inasmuch as is possible, as much of it is pronounced the same everywhere. The more needless variation, the harder the language is to master. And mastery of English is important, all over the world.
English has its own way of pronouncing hundreds of thousands of words, including placenames. The mere fact that you have a vague idea of the sounds of French or Russian does not entitle you to demand that "Paris" be pronounced paa.rée, and "Moscow" be pronounced mosk.vóq (where Q is silent, used here to close an open vowel at the end of a word).
The people in U.S. media who say chée.lae and chi.láe.yan do NOT say mékh.ee.ko or or.khen.tée.na for "Mexico" and "Argentina". Nor do they say rée.yu jee zha.náe.ru for "Rio de Janeiro", Mòenn.rae.yól for "Montreal", tzúu.reehh for "Zurich", or any of thousands of other English placenames in the local fashion. So they should stop mangling English and pronounce English placenames and nationalities in the English way. If you don't speak Spanish, don't affect a Spanish accent.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,427 — for Israel.)

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