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Thread: pronunciation of foreign things and how they're percieved

  1. #1
    Curious Conlanger epistemophiliac's Avatar
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    pronunciation of foreign things and how they're percieved

    I've always said the word Muslim as /ˈmʌzləm/ (MUHZ-luhm) and Islam as /ˈɪz.lɑːm/ (IHZ-lahm); however, I've commonly heard other people pronounce them as /ˈmʊslɪm/ (MOOS-lihm) and /ɪsˈlɑːm/ (ihs-LAHM) and I've even been corrected before about the 'correct' way to pronounce it. So this raises several questions:

    • Does the pronunciation of these two words often rely on ones political standing and do people make assumptions about you depending on how you pronounce these words?
    • If so, what does it insinuate and what assumptions will they make about you?
    • In general, how is someone perceived if they pronounce foreign things as they're pronounced in their original language instead of anglicizing it? (like common nouns: karaoke, croissant, karate, etc. or place names: Kyoto, Paris, Seoul, Oslo, Bucharest, etc.)
    • And finally, how do you pronounce these words? Do you ever use 'original pronunciations' or do you opt for the anglicized (or in some cases anglo-dialecticized) pronunciation?


    Side note: I think with the latter pronunciations of Muslim and Islam people are trying for a more (standard-)Arabic-like pronunciation, but the irony is their pronunciation is still slightly anglicized.
    Pedin i phith in aníron, a nin ú-cheniog.
    Kup tar-tor n'zhitlar ik istau - eh ri ken-tor du nash-veh.
    Sa's drisa tonabhiala tomuñ s'eph de'imal'il, sa se lodhe togal'n.
    B'lir inus vorbilim bi mek inus, hiam gi b'ek ilimlimr.

  2. #2
    Member Mxx's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's a tricky one this. It can either come off as exceptionally pedantic and eye-rolling (think Cecil in Room with a View), or it can be a perfectly normal consequence of someone being immersed in different cultures. For example, I lived in Spain for 6 years and my mother is Spanish, so any Spanish word I use in speech I'm going to pronounce correctly. Or when I use an English word while speaking to someone in Spanish, I'm going to pronounce that correctly too.

    I think it's good for people to at least make an effort to try to pronounce words in the acceptable original language way, but for words commonly adopted into the language (like Muslim and Islam) - to go against the common tongue pronunciation - eh, if I like you, I'm going to let it slide, if I don't like you, it will be one of the things I use to mock you.

  3. #3
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by epistemophiliac View Post
    [*]Does the pronunciation of these two words often rely on ones political standing and do people make assumptions about you depending on how you pronounce these words?[*]If so, what does it insinuate and what assumptions will they make about you?
    I pronounce them the way you pronounce them. I don't know what this reveals about me, but moos-lim sounds really dumb to me if you're speaking English.

    I'm kind of glad that Spanish pronunciation is unequivocal, so these disagreements don't exist.

    [*]In general, how is someone perceived if they pronounce foreign things as they're pronounced in their original language instead of anglicizing it? (like common nouns: karaoke, croissant, karate, etc. or place names: Kyoto, Paris, Seoul, Oslo, Bucharest, etc.)
    Again, they sound silly. If I am speaking to a bilingual person, then I might pronounce English words in English while speaking Spanish, and Spanish words in Spanish while speaking English. Otherwise, nah. One exception is the city where I live; I will pronounce "Buenos Aires" in Spanish 100% of the time, but "Argentina" will be anglicized if I'm speaking English.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

  4. #4
    Member Mxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    I will pronounce "Buenos Aires" in Spanish 100% of the time, but "Argentina" will be anglicized if I'm speaking English.
    Ha, same here. Same with Los Angeles. I'll always use the American pronunciation, unless I'm talking in Spanish.

  5. #5
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mxx View Post
    Ha, same here. Same with Los Angeles. I'll always use the American pronunciation, unless I'm talking in Spanish.
    I say 'Los Angeles' in English. I'm not very consistent.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

  6. #6
    Ha. Some edgelord corrected my pronunciation of Nietzsche once.

  7. #7
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    i can't say i assume much about other people's pronunciation of things, and i don't think most people give a shit. you can reasonably expect most people to speak some kind of second language and where i live is a "melting pot" so lots of ways of saying things are generally accepted unless it's incomprehensible or you know they're learning and would like to be corrected. i just assume people pronounce things the way they hear them being said, and some tend to be biased towards thinking the way they've learned is the one correct way.

    sometimes, though, when people say things wrong (even in their first language), i assume they don't hear the word said much and came across the word in their reading. so they usually read a lot.

  8. #8
    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    If I do use correct pronunciation, I occasionally go too far and adopt the accent native to the language for a noticeable portion of the conversation. Whenever I do use correct pronunciation it is without regard for culture...pretty much entirely because the aesthetic is pleasing to my ears.

    I'm not picky when it comes to other people's pronunciation, either...as @jigglypuff was describing, I generally make an assumption that the word was encountered mainly via reading, and not learned from actually hearing it. Strange pronunciations can be like endearing eccentricities...little aspects of a person that you can use to deduce things about how they experience stuff...not unlike people who mix up idioms and expressions. As long as I understand what they mean, I can overlook their use of words and/or their pronunciation of them...and it can be entertaining, to boot.
    ...the origin of emotional sickness lay in people’s belief that they were their personalities...
    "The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong." ~Carl Jung

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