Giving up on the phonemes

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/06/28 11:25 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/06/28/433377.aspx


A few days ago, Mark Liberman was talking about Spanish in Charlotte in 1965 and the way that the pronunciation of Oribe (which to most Spanish speaking people would be oh-REE-beh) became Or-bay mainly to match the phonemes of the people in North Carolina in the 1960's.

Interestingly enough, I was around a similar situation in the distant past.

I was once married to a lady of French Canadian heritage whose maiden name (Gagnon) was of course pronounced ga-yown in French but for ease of living with neighbors in Hartford, Connecticut the family simply changed to using gag-nun for their interactions with the English-speaking people around them. In perhaps my first interaction with something linguistuc, I was fascinated by this and had no problem using the 'real' pronunciation. Of course she did not like the name anyway and had no problem shedding it in the matrimonial process for 'Kaplan'.

Though she did go back to her old name after the marriage was over (she discovered that there are worse things than being a Gagnon, I suppose!).

People actually manage to sometimes screw up the pronunciation of Kaplan. Luckily that is just an occasonal problem.

Meanwhile I have sometimes considered changing my name back to the original family name ('Kaplan' is just an Ellis Island name) but I am not sure how people would respond to me as Michael Dragutsky. And then I'd have to worry about whether to fight to get people to pronounce it correctly (dry-goot-ski) or just give up and let people butcher it at will....


# Dean Harding on 28 Jun 2005 7:23 PM:

Hehe, it reminds me of that show on the BBC 'Keeping up Appearances'. Their family name is "Bucket", but of course that drives her nuts and every time someone pronounces as you'd expect, she tells them "It's pronounced 'boo-KAY'".

# Michael S. Kaplan on 28 Jun 2005 7:58 PM:

Wasn't there a movie with Wesley Snipes where one of the terrorists was a Mr. Forget (ponounced for-ghey) ? :-)

# Dean Harding on 29 Jun 2005 2:39 AM:

Heh, yeah that was Passenger 57. Horrible movie :) "He's an ex-cop with a bad mouth, a bad attitude, and a bad seat."

# Michael S. Kaplan on 29 Jun 2005 7:48 AM:

And of course who can forget Count de Monet (supposed to be 'Dee Monaye' but everyone says it as 'Deh Money'). Mel Brooks messes it up as both king and pretender, but we all know that its good to be the king....

Tanveer Badar on 22 Dec 2007 1:10 AM:

Hey people, I think in French when a noun ends in 't' that t is silent. For example, restaurant is spoken as restauraan.


referenced by

2008/01/06 My name is Dragutsky. Michael Dragutsky.

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