No, no, roll the "R"

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No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Minchandre » Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:40 am UTC

As background for my personal accent and pronunciation abilities, I'm an Israeli-born American who speaks English, Hebrew, and French, with a good education, from around Denver, CO.

Now, for the meat of the post: I was speaking with a friend of mine who is Mexican (Sergio), complaining that Americans can't pronounce his name properly. It wasn't that people weren't getting the general gist right, it was that there were very specific sounds that he was going for of the "r" and "g". That got me thinking, though: there was no way I would ever pronounce his name correctly. I simply could not make the sounds he wanted; my "r" kept becoming more of a Parisian rolled "r" than the trilled "r" he wanted, and my pronunciation of "g" couldn't help but become a full Israeli "ch" sound (like in Bach, but a little lighter).

That got me thinking: a lot of foreign people I know complain that Americans can't pronounce their names right because of noise-making inability, but Americans seldom complain of the same. For example, I've yet to meet a foreigner (aside from Canadians) who could reproduce the Midwestern flat "r". Many languages lack a "th" sound of any type, making this family of sounds also difficult. And yet, you never hear Theodore complaining about how those damned Italians can't get his name right, the same way you hear Vanya explain that, no, that last vowel isn't quite right.

Am I seeing something that isn't there? If it's real, then why is it? Is there some level of cultural cringe to Americans that makes it seem exotic and awesome when our names get foreign pronunciations, compared to the generic-ness that makes foreign names seem lame with American accents? Do any Americans ever get pissed when people can't pronounce certain precise details of their names? (Obviously, not all foreign people care this like the examples given, but I've met enough that it's annoyed me).

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby ZLVT » Fri Jun 27, 2008 3:37 am UTC

what's more probably? That an American will immerse themselves in foreign culture, or that a foreigner will immerse themselves in american culture? Also, anglophones for some reason don't learn other langugaes much, no one knows why, but they don;t so it's mroe likely that a foreigner will learn to pronounce the name well if not perfectly than that the American will.

However I moved to Australia when I was 2, and I cringe if people mispronounce my name (I prefer it if they use pseudonyms) but after a while of being surrounded by different cultures that can't pronounce it, you sort of stop caring. Likely Americans just put up with it.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Interactive Civilian » Fri Jun 27, 2008 3:38 am UTC

While I don't actually complain (much) about it, I do get annoyed that Thai people have a hard time not dropping the "s" sound from the end of my name. DAMMIT, MY NAME IS NOT ALEK! :evil:

;)

No, I don't freak out about it. I understand that Thai doesn't end words with an "s" sound, so they are very not used to it. However, I often try to correct it the first few times and usually my friends get it. :?

Most other languages don't butcher my name as much, so it isn't a big deal. Most other languages have the sounds to pronounce my name if not already have an equivalent name anyway. The Japanese do throw in a few extra syllables, though (I'm "Arekkusu" to them).

However, I will agree with the idea that I like the way my name sounds with "foreign" accents. 8) SEXAY!
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Robin S » Fri Jun 27, 2008 3:52 am UTC

On the odd occasion where I've had my name mispronounced by someone with a foreign accent, I've found it mildly irritating but tolerable. Really, it's not a big deal. I suppose it's probably not a great deal for the foreigners either, but maybe because they have their names mispronounced more often they make a point of mentioning it. Or something like that.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby ave_matthew » Fri Jun 27, 2008 5:42 pm UTC

I dunno, I always cringed that the french would gallicise my name
Matthew ~[maθjəw] --> Matthieu ~[mat͜sʲø]
but once I started to identify more with french culture, I now would prefer that they do, I even call myself by Matthieu sometimes, when I'm speaking to someone, if i don't think they speak English.

Also I have a friend from Vietnam, and I'm damn sure I can't pronounce his name, but I've never heard him say it even once, so how am I supposed to know! Everyone calls him triet [trie], but Vietnamese is tonal, so I don't know it is has a tone or which one :(
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby johnie104 » Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:31 pm UTC

Some of my teachers pronounce my name (John) like Americans do: Djon in stead of Zjòn. This is rather weird because I'm Dutch, my teachers know that and they are Dutch too. Oh well.

I know someone from Vietnam too; His name is Gkuyen, which you're supposed to pronounce as Kien.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Ivy » Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:44 pm UTC

I have a name that English people usually have trouble pronouncing. My name's Ivana and most of them say something pretty close to "I wanna" usually followed by "Humpalot". Damn you, Austin Powers. :roll: :mrgreen: When people say it like that, I'll correct them and tell how it's supposed to be pronounced. I'm not gonna force them to get it perfectly, I'm happy if they catch the gist.

I go by "Ivy" anyway so a lot of people use that, especially if we met online and they knew my nickname first before knowing my real life name.

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby gibberishtwist » Sat Jun 28, 2008 1:07 pm UTC

I grew up with my Italian grandmother never pronouncing my name right (I have one of those dreaded th sounds), so it doesn't bother me that much. When I meet someone who primarily speaks a different language, I expect them to pronounce my name "Samanta" instead of "Samantha." *shrug*

johnie104 wrote:I know someone from Vietnam too; His name is Gkuyen, which you're supposed to pronounce as Kien.


I went to school with a Vietnamese guy named Dzung Nguyen. Pronounced "Yome Wee-ehn." It was always fun when we had a substitute or otherwise strange adult come in and try to call on him.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby ZLVT » Sat Jun 28, 2008 2:04 pm UTC

johnie104 wrote:Some of my teachers pronounce my name (John) like Americans do: Djon in stead of Zjòn. This is rather weird because I'm Dutch, my teachers know that and they are Dutch too. Oh well.


What do you mean "Zjòn"? do you mean a [ʒ]? Because I've not known that to be a native phoneme of dutch
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Hurduser » Sat Jun 28, 2008 5:49 pm UTC

Another impossible sound for others seems to be the [çt] in my name. So many people. especially of Turkish origin don't get that right and say something like [tç]. I gave up correcting them, even though it always annoys me. I can accept that people can not get the sound of a name right (like USAnians seem to use [ɛ] instead of [e]) but fucking up the order of letters? And why does it seem to be something Turks do predictably even though they live long enough in Germany not to have an accent otherwise? :yowl:
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby 4=5 » Sun Jun 29, 2008 11:00 pm UTC

people are perfectly able to pronounce my name, all the sounds come up in ordinary speech frequently. but most of the time no one says it right. I think most of the time you don't hear about the reverse is because you are in an english speaking culture there isn't as much chance for habitual mispronunciation of common names.

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby SpitValve » Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:10 pm UTC

Interactive Civilian wrote:While I don't actually complain (much) about it, I do get annoyed that Thai people have a hard time not dropping the "s" sound from the end of my name. DAMMIT, MY NAME IS NOT ALEK! :evil:

;)


In Thailand, I was "Dawid" half the time and "Dayf" the other half. They don't have "v"s either...

'course they made fun of me for using บ instead of ป so it's all fair :)

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Lee_ky » Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:55 pm UTC

It's not like I'm Italian or anything. But this sounds familiar to the 'annoyance' (not so much of an annoyance really, just something I see everytime and that I wonder about, but I just don't know a better word) I feel when I hear an American movie with the name Julio or Jose in it. The J is, in my humble Dutch opinion much more like a breathed out soft g (chhhhh-oolio), than the complete and total h sound (Hoolio) they use in those movies. Am I wrong about this?
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby goofy » Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:49 pm UTC

Lee_ky wrote:It's not like I'm Italian or anything. But this sounds familiar to the 'annoyance' (not so much of an annoyance really, just something I see everytime and that I wonder about, but I just don't know a better word) I feel when I hear an American movie with the name Julio or Jose in it. The J is, in my humble Dutch opinion much more like a breathed out soft g (chhhhh-oolio), that the complete and total h sound (Hoolio) they use in those movies. Am I wrong about this?


It depends on the kind of Spanish. AIUI some kinds of Spanish have /h/ and some have /x/.

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Mmmm, Pi » Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:57 pm UTC

I don't mind slightly weird pronunciations of my name, but my name is Mary. It is not Maria, or any other variation of Mary, it's just Mary.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:13 am UTC

I don't mind terribly when people "mis"pronounce my name due to their foreign accents (or other English accents, for that matter). Nor have I encountered anyone who was particularly bothered by my not being able to pronounce theirs perfectly. Then again, I teach English as a second language, to students who know they themselves have pretty strong accents. So that's probably part of why they're not about to try correcting me every time I don't say their names exactly right. (Also, I try pretty hard to pronounce them correctly, rather than anglicize them, so probably don't get it as wrong as most Americans. Or people from different foreign countries, for that matter. The extent to which my Brazilian students slaughter Yasuhiro's name, or especially the shortened 'Yasu', is matched only by the extent to which he slaughters some of theirs. :-) )
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby GonzoMcFonzo » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:47 am UTC

I can somwhat identify with Sergio from the OP. My first name is Andrès, but my entire life I've been getting Andrè, Andrew, Andreas (all with out a rolled 'r') or the occasional request to disrobe (Un-dress). Honestly, after two decades, it's just something I've come to accept. However, because of this, whenever I meet someone with a name I think I might have trouble with, I make a point of repeating it back to them ("Howdy so-and-so, I'm Gonzo, nice to meet you"). They usually correct me at this point if they're touchy about it, but even then, the vast majority of the time, the fact that I clearly made an effort makes a huge difference.

Also, because all this, when I meet someone who mispronounces my name in some new and foreign way, the novelty of some new mispronunciation is enough that it can be awesome in and of itself.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Ari » Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:58 pm UTC

Lee_ky wrote:It's not like I'm Italian or anything. But this sounds familiar to the 'annoyance' (not so much of an annoyance really, just something I see everytime and that I wonder about, but I just don't know a better word) I feel when I hear an American movie with the name Julio or Jose in it. The J is, in my humble Dutch opinion much more like a breathed out soft g (chhhhh-oolio), than the complete and total h sound (Hoolio) they use in those movies. Am I wrong about this?


You're not wrong, but such are the results of such an anglo-centric language environment.

Mmmm, Pi wrote:I don't mind slightly weird pronunciations of my name, but my name is Mary. It is not Maria, or any other variation of Mary, it's just Mary.


The leading vowel sound there doesn't exist in a lot of languages- people usually go with Maria/insert other variation because it's less grating than hearing something you expect to be pronounced as [εə] instead be pronounced as, say, [a]. Personally, I think unless they have your consent they should do their best to represent your name faithfully, as should anyone pronouncing a name not from their native language.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby johnie104 » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:39 pm UTC

ZLVT wrote:
johnie104 wrote:Some of my teachers pronounce my name (John) like Americans do: Djon in stead of Zjòn. This is rather weird because I'm Dutch, my teachers know that and they are Dutch too. Oh well.


What do you mean "Zjòn"? do you mean a [ʒ]? Because I've not known that to be a native phoneme of dutch


Yes, like a ʒ. It's the way my parents, family and friends and almost everyone I know pronounce it. I don't know anything about linguistics, but I'm assuming the name is 'imported' from England and then 'bastardized' to sound more like a dutch name. It could also be that it's just pronounced like that in my dialect/region (Noord-Brabant if your curious).
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby SpitValve » Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:35 pm UTC

Ari wrote:
Lee_ky wrote:It's not like I'm Italian or anything. But this sounds familiar to the 'annoyance' (not so much of an annoyance really, just something I see everytime and that I wonder about, but I just don't know a better word) I feel when I hear an American movie with the name Julio or Jose in it. The J is, in my humble Dutch opinion much more like a breathed out soft g (chhhhh-oolio), than the complete and total h sound (Hoolio) they use in those movies. Am I wrong about this?


You're not wrong, but such are the results of such an anglo-centric language environment.


It's better than pronouncing the "j" as a "j" at least :)

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby ave_matthew » Wed Jul 02, 2008 5:08 am UTC

SpitValve wrote:
Ari wrote:
Lee_ky wrote:It's not like I'm Italian or anything. But this sounds familiar to the 'annoyance' (not so much of an annoyance really, just something I see everytime and that I wonder about, but I just don't know a better word) I feel when I hear an American movie with the name Julio or Jose in it. The J is, in my humble Dutch opinion much more like a breathed out soft g (chhhhh-oolio), than the complete and total h sound (Hoolio) they use in those movies. Am I wrong about this?


You're not wrong, but such are the results of such an anglo-centric language environment.


It's better than pronouncing the "j" as a "j" at least :)


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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby ADXCKGuy » Wed Jul 02, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

ZLVT wrote:Also, anglophones for some reason don't learn other langugaes much, no one knows why,
What do you mean? There are three well-known reasons why:
English is the current lingua franca, meaning an anglophone is likely to derive less benefit from his/her other languages than someone else is from English.
Native English speakers are conditioned against matching long strings of consonants, and have problems with certain subtly different sounds in other languages, whereas in English, the sounds are generally very distinct from each other, and substituting close ones causes little if any confusion, except for the problem East Asians have with r vs. l.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby markfiend » Wed Jul 02, 2008 3:16 pm UTC

ADXCKGuy wrote:Native English speakers, for the most part, come from countries with arrogant populations.

LOL word.

Mark seems fairly hard to mispronounce. (People from some parts of Lancashire, I half-expect them to add 'and Mindy' though... :lol: )

Although I have a friend with Polish as his first language who calls me Marek, but that's cool with me.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby SpitValve » Wed Jul 02, 2008 3:45 pm UTC

ADXCKGuy wrote:whereas in English, the sounds are generally very distinct from each other


I dunno about this. I think they just sound very distinct because we're used to hearing them. For instance, "ch" and "sh" are extremely similar - is it cheap or sheep? That could be confusing. Sometimes a "t" can basically be a "d" as well, and vice versa ("I walkt home today", "I opened the boddle"). Also, some Thais asked me if I knew how to write my name in Thai, and I said I can't do it properly because they don't have a letter for the "v" sound, and they said they did - ว, which is a "w" sound. So apparently "v" and "w" sound pretty close to at least some Thais... (Though the normal way to write "David" in Thai does use ว, the "w" letter).

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby steewi » Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:19 am UTC

the sounds are generally very distinct from each other


Confusing sounds for foreigners in English:
r/l - as noted, causes problems talking about elections.
v/w or v/b - depending on your native language. Lots and lots of languages don't have a v/w distinction.
z/ð/v and s/θ/f - θ and ð are difficult sounds. Quite difficult sounds. And telling the difference between θ and f over a telephone line is quite difficult. If you take away the context on the telephone, the difference between 'thin' and 'fin' is difficult to hear, even if you have good hearing.

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:50 am UTC

There's also the fact that we have like 13 distinct vowels and diphthongs, at least in my dialect of English, without any very consistent way of spelling most of them. This is fairly hard for, say, Spanish speakers, who have 5 pure vowels and a few diphthongs which are spelled using the letters for the vowels they consist of.

At the school where I teach, there's a page up on the bulletin board of minimal pairs that are difficult for speakers of various other languages. r/l and b/v are there, along with a fair number of others. I may type that up if I ever find myself at work with some free time to do so.

Personal experience tells me that d and g are sometimes hard for Portuguese speakers to distinguish, as are r and h, depending on their own dialect.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby shivasprogeny » Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:03 am UTC

I think it really depends on the foreign name.

A name very popular like "Juan" is closer to the correct pronunciation than something like Xiaopeng. (The first is usually pronounced "wan," the latter would stump most English speakers.)

When I intorduce myself to students in my ESL class, I tell them my name (Phillip) and they usually say it "Feeleep" but I don't mind because I know English isn't their native language. I do try to make the effort to say their names properly to make them feel more welcome, although I must admit, some Cambodian names are very tough for me!

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Quixotess » Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:21 am UTC

Regarding the OP:

I have experienced the opposite. No, people don't really get mad about their names too much, but my GOD do people get pissed when they hear someone speaking a foreign language in America. Does anyone remember the brouhaha over singing the Star Spangled Banner in Spanish? And the mocking of the accents, oh it's so bad. Meanwhile I have a friend named Xochitl, and I've never seen her get angry over someone mispronouncing her name*, even her friends who really should know better. (What gets her riled up is when people mispronounce her last name, which is a ridiculously common Spanish last name that everyone should know.)

*It's "so-cheel."
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby SpitValve » Mon Jul 07, 2008 10:56 am UTC

shivasprogeny wrote:... although I must admit, some Cambodian names are very tough for me!


Out of interest, do Cambodians have short nicknames like Thais do? (e.g. Pinit Wichapon is called "Bob" by absolutely everybody)

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby shivasprogeny » Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:48 pm UTC

SpitValve wrote:
shivasprogeny wrote:... although I must admit, some Cambodian names are very tough for me!


Out of interest, do Cambodians have short nicknames like Thais do? (e.g. Pinit Wichapon is called "Bob" by absolutely everybody)


Most ar either one or two syllables. Some of the names in my class: An easy one is "Lang" and one that's a little difficult is said something like "Sok-aien" (whose brother is "Sok-haien"), and then there is "Seung."

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby hideki101 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:31 am UTC

I don't really know about many foreign languages, but What I do know is that Japanese don't have the letter "L" in their vocab, an as such, makes it hard for them to pronounce my name correctly (the romaji form of my name would read as "arekkusu"-"alex")

On the other hand, Japanese names seem to be exceedingly hard for the average person I come across to pronounce. Maybe its the length that intimidates them? I've stopped being bothered if people get my last name screwed up. This comes with the bonus for automatically screening calls: people who stumble horribly over our last name tend to be telemarketers.

Off topic, is it bad that when I saw the title of this thread I immediately thought it would be a Rickroll?
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby ZLVT » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:31 am UTC

hehe, I thought it was odd that volapuk decided to change all r's to l's to make it easier for asians. Oops
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Eugo » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:47 pm UTC

gibberishtwist wrote:I went to school with a Vietnamese guy named Dzung Nguyen. Pronounced "Yome Wee-ehn." It was always fun when we had a substitute or otherwise strange adult come in and try to call on him.

Had a neighbor with the same name, but he told me to pronounce it "wn"... i.e. quite short.

Interactive Civilian wrote:While I don't actually complain (much) about it, I do get annoyed that Thai people have a hard time not dropping the "s" sound from the end of my name. DAMMIT, MY NAME IS NOT ALEK!


There was a Thai clerk in a shop nearby, and he had this habit of never pronouncing the last consonant in a word - or maybe pronouncing only the first consonant in any group. So he'd say "det iz one dolla fifty nigh". I've also met a Chinese woman who would always insert a vowel, or at least a schwa, between adjacent consonants. Maybe there's some aversion to some groups of consonants in some Asian languages?
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Yakk » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:15 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:There's also the fact that we have like 13 distinct vowels and diphthongs, at least in my dialect of English, without any very consistent way of spelling most of them. This is fairly hard for, say, Spanish speakers, who have 5 pure vowels and a few diphthongs which are spelled using the letters for the vowels they consist of.


Sure, but if you do half-a-dozen substitutes, it is ok -- just a slightly different accent.

Bottle, Bawdle, Bawttle, Boddle -- let's call the whole thing off?

There are native English speakers who pronounce it "more like" each of the above 4 variants, I think. (At least, I can imagine an accent that goes with each of the above 4 options...)
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby SpitValve » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:42 pm UTC

Eugo wrote:There was a Thai clerk in a shop nearby, and he had this habit of never pronouncing the last consonant in a word - or maybe pronouncing only the first consonant in any group. So he'd say "det iz one dolla fifty nigh".


They definitely don't put as much emphasis on the last consonant in a word. They don't "release" their final consonants like we do. In English, the word "stop" has a little burst of air at the end - "stop-puh". To a Thai this sounds like a separate syllable, so you have to learn to not do this if you feel like speaking Thai. Also, consonants have different sounds at the end of a syllable than at the beginning (probably as a result of this), so "g" becomes "k", "s" becomes "t" and so on. So while "sawasdee" ("hello") is spelt with an "s" (ส) in the middle, it's pronounced "sah-wut-dee".

And I think most Asian languages don't have the consonant clusters we have. A word like "strengths" would be very difficult.

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby proof_man » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:58 pm UTC

edit
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby liza » Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:34 am UTC

SpitValve wrote:And I think most Asian languages don't have the consonant clusters we have. A word like "strengths" would be very difficult.

The funny bit is that most English-speakers have no problem with "strengths", but balk at Russian (and other similarly consonant-heavy languages) words like "zemstvo" or "zdrastvuitye".
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby Eugo » Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:57 am UTC

liza wrote:
SpitValve wrote:And I think most Asian languages don't have the consonant clusters we have. A word like "strengths" would be very difficult.

The funny bit is that most English-speakers have no problem with "strengths", but balk at Russian (and other similarly consonant-heavy languages) words like "zemstvo" or "zdrastvuitye".


And then all the unspeakable things... like words beginning with a ps-, gn-, gnj-, kn-, knj-, pn- (pronouncing ALL of these, none silent!), or the South Slavic habit of using r as a vowel (when without an adjacent vowel) - actual names of Serbia and Croatia are Srbija and Hrvatska, and those R are vowels.

And then there's Hungarian, which has a few consonant combinations even harder than the -štvlj- (sh-t-v-ll), what with the -hat-/-het- infix, which can come right after the stem in many verbs, and the h is always audible. Or their distinction between long and short consonants - priceless :). It's really fun to learn, recommended. Beer helps.
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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby steewi » Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:21 am UTC

liza wrote:
SpitValve wrote:And I think most Asian languages don't have the consonant clusters we have. A word like "strengths" would be very difficult.

The funny bit is that most English-speakers have no problem with "strengths", but balk at Russian (and other similarly consonant-heavy languages) words like "zemstvo" or "zdrastvuitye".


Asian exceptions to this (not even going into Indo-Aryan languages) include Khmer and the other Mon-Khmer languages. The Khmer autonym is phyasa khmai (IPA phja.sa.khma:j) and the IPA for Phnom Penh is something like [phnom.pønj]. Hmong languages frequently have syllables beginning with ml-.

On the other hand, syllable-final consonant clusters are quite rare in East Asia.

Although transliterated Tibetan looks scary to pronounce, it's actually quite simple, phonemically - no more than a (C)(G)V(C2) syllable structure. Transliterations like rtsangs bkad spyon are pronounced tsa:ng ke djø.

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Re: No, no, roll the "R"

Postby zahlman » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:18 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:The extent to which my Brazilian students slaughter Yasuhiro's name, or especially the shortened 'Yasu'


How exactly do they manage *that*? o_O

gibberishtwist wrote:I grew up with my Italian grandmother never pronouncing my name right (I have one of those dreaded th sounds), so it doesn't bother me that much. When I meet someone who primarily speaks a different language, I expect them to pronounce my name "Samanta" instead of "Samantha." *shrug*

johnie104 wrote:I know someone from Vietnam too; His name is Gkuyen, which you're supposed to pronounce as Kien.


I went to school with a Vietnamese guy named Dzung Nguyen. Pronounced "Yome Wee-ehn." It was always fun when we had a substitute or otherwise strange adult come in and try to call on him.


This is something I've never understood about Vietnamese and Chinese. Or rather, about the Westerners who were first to interact with them. When you create a scheme for transliteration, you have perfect freedom to make it actually have some obvious logic, and thus make the transliterated results look like they should be pronounced the way they actually should be pronounced. Japanese gets this almost exactly completely right even though there are two common systems, both are reasonably agreeable), Korean is somewhat further from the mark but still readable (and understandable because they distinguish a lot of vowel sounds), but Chinese and Vietnamese (edit: and judging from the above, Tibetan) are a complete WTF. What happened?
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