Friday, October 1, 2010

India has no "R" in it

Listening the the BBC yesterday, they kept covering the Ayodhya Mosque / Temple court ruling in India, but they kept referring to the country as Indi-er, pronouncing the name of their former colony with an obligatory British "R" on the end of any word that ends in soft pronounced vowel.  I checked with several of my close Indian colleagues, and not a single one of them said "Indi-er" was the correct pronunciation.  It is India, no "R", pronounced "in-dē-ə".  

I believe it is best to pronounce names of places the way the local people pronounce the name.  Not some imposed mis-pronunciation.
  • Beijing is Not Peking.
  • New Orleans is Nawlins, not New Ore-Leans.
  • Louisville is correctly pronounced "L'ville" (one syllable, from my friend Dan who grew up there, R.I.P.), not LU-E-ville.
  • Illinois is Not Ill-ə-noise.
  • Paris is Pearrr-E, not Pare-isss.
  • Spartanburg South Carolina has one "S" at the beginning, and no "S" on the end.
  • Likewise, Greenville has NO "S" in it at all (it is NOT "Greensville" or "Greenvilles", but flight attendants never seem to understand this.  [Note: Locals can call "Greenville" and "Spartanburg" and "Simpsonville" by the names of "Green-vegas", "Sparkle City" and "Simpson-vegas" but that's just a silly derogatory colloquialism.]
...and India, has no "R" in it. Nor does "Ayodhya".  And North & South Carolina, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona, North & South Dakota, Minnesota, Virginia, and Florida DO NOT end in "R", and should never be pronounced with an "R" on the end.

Stop it BBC.


  1. The extra 'r' at the end bugs me, too.

    I believe it is best to pronounce names of places the way the local people pronounce the name.
    I disagree with that. Many places have equivalent names in other languages. "Venice" is the English word for "Venizia", for example. If you, when speaking English, refer to Paris as "Par-EEE" instead of "PEAR-iss", you come off sounding like a pretentious twat.

  2. I do not concur. "Pretentious twat" only to those who are exclusively Anglo-centric perhaps. I've got many colleagues who work in Firenze Italy. I don't call it "Florence" when I speak to them or write to them, I call it by the name the Italians call it: "Firenze". The Prahha (Prague) and Mumbai (not Bombay) and Chennai (not Madras) offices, I show the same respect to when communicating with those locales. If it has an alphabetized spelling that my keyboard can use and my Broca's and Wernicke's areas can recognize and verbalize, I always try to use it. When my keyboard cannot locate it directly (like Chengdu - CHUNG-du, not CHANG-DO; or Chongqing - Chung-Ching not CHONG-KING; or Iraq & Iran - E-rrock & E-rrah not EYE-RACK and EYE-RAN) then I pronounce it as close to a local pronunciation as possible.

    Many broadcast news media with any Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin, or Slavic language capabilities do the same thing in audio reports - sometimes going slightly over-board [maybe] like the local NPR station's Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez who rrrrrollllls her R's rrrrreadily.

    I don't want to sound like George Bush, and, I have a proclivity for languages. =) I really don't care if people think I am a twat, a salaud, dupa jaz, or الاغ

  3. So by that measure we should be saying Ver-sayles when we go to Kintuck.

  4. Versailles Kentucky? I am confused.

  5. So if you're talking to, say, a guy from Idaho, on a flight from AZ to Chicago, and you would actually say "par-EEE" for Paris?

  6. I typically wear ear plugs on flights, since drumming has degraded my hearing and the over-head announcements (especially on Canada Air Jets) are Extremely Loud - so I doubt I woul dbe talking to a guy on a plane. But if I was speaking to a stranger, and the guy was a franco-phobe, I would probably try to pronounce each and every foreign word colloquially accurately, to the best of my knowledge, if it got a rise out of him, or if it caused him to stop speaking with me. If he was a franco-phile or francophone, I know I would be speaking to him in French, and it wouldn't matter. In Red State America - as you may have seen in Alabama - there's no shortage of ignorant franco-phobe xenophobes, and I do get a perverse pleasure out of pushing those person's buttons. I also have a proclivity to roll my R's, more than is necessary.

    To contrast, Let's take an Italian example - since my Italian (spoken and listening) is very poor, and most Americans in the 21st century do not have the same bias against Italians that they used to have in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and that they have against the Frnech in the 21st century. If I was speaking to a stranger about Florence Italy, I would - as one of my idiosyncrasies - refer to Florence as "Florence / Firenze" until the other person understood that "Firenze" was indeed "Florence", and then I would drop the use of "Florence" in the rest of the conversation, and stick with "Firenze".

    I am waging a quiet insurgency against the campaign for "English Only". I don't want it to be "Spanish & English"... no, I'm getting ready for 'Blade Runner Speak'.

  7. I think it's got nothing to do with -phobes of any flavor, nor red state, etc. I think saying the english word, "Florence" in a conversation conducted in English with native English-speakers is the best way to get understood.

    So to a native english speaker, in, say, the US, you'd refer to Austria as "oesterreich"?

  8. Yes, after establishing with them, conversationally, that "Oesterreich" is "Austria", through dual usage in the first one or two references, I'd switch over to 'Oesterreich', just as I do 'Firenze' for Florence, 'Suisse' for Switzerland - except if speaking to a German speaker, then I'd call it 'Schweiz', though admittedly 'Svizzera' to an Italian speaker would be much harder for me to remember.

    My point of reference is that I embrace multiple cultures and languages, and having lived most of my adult life and worked with hundreds of willfully ignornant & xenophobic individuals in states that solidly reject any "Un American" concepts, I go out of my way on purpose to encourage and promote non-English pronunciations, non-Western interpretations, non-traditional paradigms, in an attempt (no matter how futile) to try and broaden the perspectives of those whose lives I touch.

    Being labeled as a "twat, a salaud, dupa jaz, or الاغ " is left to the individual's interpretation. 1 out of 6 or one out of seven people, I've found, tend to form that opinion of me very quickly - but it is not my mission to make everyone happy all the time. That's their loss. Most people find it's much better to have JoeP on their team working with them / allied to them, than attempting to work against him. =)

  9. I guess we'll just have to disagree on this one. "Broadening horizons" seems a bit presumptuous to me and I can see how it would be off-putting.

    One more question and I'll shut up: when you're speaking in French to native French speakers, do you use the terms "Etas Unis", "Londres", and "Angleterre", or the English words?

  10. When I have the opportunity to speak to a Francophone I use the French "Estats Unis [since EU would be confusing], Caroline de Sud, Allemagne" etc. When speaking to a native German speaker, I try to use "Deutschland, Frankreich, US," etc. I try to "put myself in the other person's shoes".

    After being asked to attend Klan rallies - my first year in South Carolina - before they knew I was raised Roman Catholic, seeing racist and slimy political campaigns, and blatant, out-right discrimination against people of other cultures and ethnicities, I do tend to presume that most mono-lingual Americans - especially in the South and in Red States where I've lived and worked - harbor ingrained stereotypes that I enjoy confounding.

  11. And disagreement is good! Life would suck if everyone was exactly like me =P I'd never be able to hike alone, or drive on uncrowded roads, or work from home. Variety throughout nature is a wonderful thing.

    I was not trying to convince you my friend, just expressing my perspective.

  12. I guess I've lived almost exclusively in urban areas and never had to deal with the "which church do you go to?" crowd.

    But your approach does seem inconsistent. When speaking to english-speakers you go out of your way to use the native terms for a place but when speaking another language you contradict your original stated belief of "I believe it is best to pronounce names of places the way the local people pronounce the name."

    Basically, when you speak French or German, you adopt my position :-)

  13. It is an asymmetrical stance, agreed. But then, most Germans and Frenchmen (outside of Paris) and Italians and Europeans tend to like Americans, and are not American-phobic. Conversely, most rural, Red State, libertarian or republican, 'America First, F Yeah!', Freedumb Fries eating Umerikuns refuse to embrace or even acknowledge other cultures, so I don't feel bad empathizing with foreign speakers.

    Perhaps it is a matter of "Empire". The English had theirs, and still cling to the Anglo-nizing of all words (IndiaR). The Americans, who SAY they have no Empire but who have stationed 100s of thousands of troops globally to protect economic interests, too often refuse to acknowledge other points of view, pronunciations, religions, etc... and that bugs me, so I work against it.

    So I propose a modification to my earlier statement: "As a native English speaker, I believe it is best to pronounce names of places the way the local people pronounce the name." - in an effort to not impose my own myopic view point on every dissimilar culture I encounter. =)

  14. How does your modification change anything? I've checked with my neighbors, we all call this place "London", yet you're still "Londres"-ing us when hanging with the gauls.

    Unless by "local" you mean local to your conversation, not local to the place about which you are conversing. In which case that's exactly my view.

    You've spent too much time in red states and now everything looks like a culture war. I recommend moving to a city.

  15. I do mean "local to my conversation" or "to the conversation at hand with a non-native English speaker", or in the case of New Orleans or Louisville, with the local citizens of those places when speaking to a native English speaker who is not from those places. I do have difficulty calling Boston "BAHHhhhsten".

    Phoenix has 4 million people, it's a big city - the 5th largest in the US. I even live within city limits - though JUST within them by less than a 1/2 kilometer. Granted, the city is 600 square miles, compared to the 20 square miles that cities like NYC have packed in 3 times the number of citizens.

    I leave cultural wars to Bill O'Falafel and the like. I just wage a quiet local insurgency, without a translator insignia "T" on my shoulder.


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