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Old 04-13-2012, 04:15 PM
TonySinclair TonySinclair is offline
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"Strange" pronunciation of foreign names

I think it's safe to say that most Americans know and use the French pronunciation of "Jacques," and the Spanish pronunciation of "Juan," whenever they encounter those names in print. Both are one-syllable words.

But I often hear speakers on highbrow shows pronounce "Don Juan" (the Byron character) as "Don JEW-ahn," and "Jacques" (the character in "As You Like It") pronounced "JAY-kehs," to give two examples.

My question is, is it betraying a lack of education to pronounce names like that in the "usual" way, or is the two-syllable pronunciation an affectation by people trying to look sophisticated?
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  #2  
Old 04-13-2012, 04:24 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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Originally Posted by TonySinclair View Post
But I often hear speakers on highbrow shows pronounce "Don Juan" (the Byron character) as "Don JEW-ahn," and "Jacques" (the character in "As You Like It") pronounced "JAY-kehs," to give two examples.
From Wikipedia, "In Castilian Spanish, Don Juan is pronounced [doŋˈxwan]. The usual English pronunciation is /ˌdɒnˈwɑːn/, with two syllables and a silent "J". However, in Byron's epic poem it rhymes with ruin and true one, indicating that it was intended to have the trisyllabic spelling pronunciation /ˌdɒnˈdʒuːən/. This would have been characteristic of his English literary predecessors who often deliberately imposed partisan English pronunciations on Spanish names, such as Don Quixote /ˌdɒnˈkwɪksət/."

In other words, the two-syllable pronunciation is correct when referring to the Byron character.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 04-13-2012 at 04:24 PM..
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Old 04-13-2012, 04:53 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
In other words, the two-syllable pronunciation is correct when referring to the Byron character.
Here, for example, is the first stanza, in which "Juan" is obviously pronounced with two syllables to fit the rhyme and meter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Byron
I want a hero: an uncommon want,
When every year and month sends forth a new one,
Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,
The age discovers he is not the true one;
Of such as these I should not care to vaunt,
I 'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan—
We all have seen him, in the pantomime,
Sent to the devil somewhat ere his time.
I don't find it hard to believe that Byron was using this pronunciation deliberately for comic effect.
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Old 04-13-2012, 05:38 PM
njtt njtt is online now
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Originally Posted by TonySinclair View Post
But I often hear speakers on highbrow shows pronounce "Don Juan" (the Byron character) as "Don JEW-ahn," and "Jacques" (the character in "As You Like It") pronounced "JAY-kehs," to give two examples.
These are both the correct pronunciations, the ones the authors intended, in these contexts. Indeed, many English speaking individual with foreign looking names, prefer that they be pronounced in an Englished way. That is their privilege.

What I do not see any any excuse for, is pronouncing Don Quixote as Don Kwiksote.

Also, I do not understand why Americans insist on pronouncing Van Gough as Van Go, which is nothing like the actual Dutch, and Robin Hood (which isn't even from a foreign language) as if it were one word, with the emphasis on the first syllable, instead of like a normal first and last name (which it is).
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Old 04-13-2012, 06:15 PM
colonial colonial is offline
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Here, for example, is the first stanza, in which "Juan" is obviously pronounced with two syllables to fit the rhyme and meter.I don't find it hard to believe that Byron was using this pronunciation deliberately for comic effect.
I 'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan

Huh?- The line has 10 syllables if "Juan" has one syllable, and 11 syllables
if "Juan" has two.

Thus the one-syllable version is what conforms with the poem's overall
iambic pentameter structure:

I'll THEREfore TAKE our ANcient FRIEND Don JUAN.


Be that as it may, I seem to recall my English professor using the two-syllable,
hard J JUan pronincuation, at least for the title of the poem. I do not recall
his explanation, although it certainly was not the result of ignorance or posturing.

Similarly, my Shakespeare teacher pronounced the name of the As You Like It
character JAYqueez, and not ZHAK. I do not recall his explanation either.
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:55 AM
njtt njtt is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colonial View Post
I 'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan

Huh?- The line has 10 syllables if "Juan" has one syllable, and 11 syllables
if "Juan" has two.

Thus the one-syllable version is what conforms with the poem's overall
iambic pentameter structure:

I'll THEREfore TAKE our ANcient FRIEND Don JUAN.


Be that as it may, I seem to recall my English professor using the two-syllable,
hard J JUan pronincuation, at least for the title of the poem. I do not recall
his explanation, although it certainly was not the result of ignorance or posturing.
Rhymes, feminine rhymes.

BTW: I think maybe Jaques is a pun on jakes.

Last edited by njtt; 04-14-2012 at 12:57 AM..
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Old 04-14-2012, 01:24 AM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is offline
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Also, I do not understand why Americans insist on pronouncing ... Robin Hood (which isn't even from a foreign language) as if it were one word, with the emphasis on the first syllable, instead of like a normal first and last name (which it is).
Huh?
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Old 04-14-2012, 02:39 AM
Student Driver Student Driver is offline
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Originally Posted by Eyebrows 0f Doom View Post
Huh?
I think it's a reference to how most people say "ROB'n-hood" when referring to the character, rather than just pronouncing it like you would someone whose name was Robin with a last name of whatever It's like referring to the TV host as "ROB'n-leach" rather than a guy named Robin with a last name of Leach.

I've always wondered if there's a term for how a phrase or name or something gets pronounced differently when it's a title versus when it's a phrase or saying. People will put different stresses on the title "A Clockwork Orange" than they would the words when it appears in a sentence like "It's a clockwork orange." This strikes me as being a similar thing. It's like how for Michael Collins, Barry Lyndon, etc., the first syllable of the first name seems to get the stress when it's the title of a work like a book or movie, while the stresses are different if used as a person's name. Robin Hood seems to be unusual; in my experience, the name in full seems to always be pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, whether in a title or when used as a character name.

Last edited by Student Driver; 04-14-2012 at 02:39 AM..
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Old 04-14-2012, 02:44 AM
friedo friedo is offline
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It's because he's a hood who keeps robbin' from the rich and givin' to the poor.
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Old 04-14-2012, 02:49 AM
njtt njtt is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Student Driver View Post
I think it's a reference to how most people say "ROB'n-hood" when referring to the character, rather than just pronouncing it like you would someone whose name was Robin with a last name of whatever It's like referring to the TV host as "ROB'n-leach" rather than a guy named Robin with a last name of Leach.

I've always wondered if there's a term for how a phrase or name or something gets pronounced differently when it's a title versus when it's a phrase or saying. People will put different stresses on the title "A Clockwork Orange" than they would the words when it appears in a sentence like "It's a clockwork orange." This strikes me as being a similar thing. It's like how for Michael Collins, Barry Lyndon, etc., the first syllable of the first name seems to get the stress when it's the title of a work like a book or movie, while the stresses are different if used as a person's name. Robin Hood seems to be unusual; in my experience, the name in full seems to always be pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, whether in a title or when used as a character name.
Frankly, I do not know what you are talking about WRT titles, but the ROB'n-hood thing is distinctively American, and, to me anyway, very noticeable. British people do not do it. I have never heard Americans do it with other names either, just this one.
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Old 04-14-2012, 04:56 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
These are both the correct pronunciations, the ones the authors intended, in these contexts. Indeed, many English speaking individual with foreign looking names, prefer that they be pronounced in an Englished way. That is their privilege.

What I do not see any any excuse for, is pronouncing Don Quixote as Don Kwiksote.

Also, I do not understand why Americans insist on pronouncing Van Gough as Van Go, which is nothing like the actual Dutch, and Robin Hood (which isn't even from a foreign language) as if it were one word, with the emphasis on the first syllable, instead of like a normal first and last name (which it is).
Why on earth should English speakers not pronounce it Don Quicksot? It was so pronounced until well into the 20th century and to pronounce it otherwise leaves the adjective quixotic high and dry. Please don't tell me that you would pronounce that keeyottic.

Each language has it's own pronunciation. In French it is Don Quichotte, so spelled and pronounced. They have no qualms whatsoever with that, nor should they.

As said above Don Jooan was the normal pronunciation in Byron's day and long after. Earlier the English said plain Don John, just as it is Don Giovanni in Italian. This absurd affectation of insisting that foreign terms should not be Anglicized is comparatively recent (the last 40 years or so) and needs to be nailed for the unnatural excrescence on English that it is.
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Old 04-14-2012, 06:33 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colonial View Post
I 'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan

Huh?- The line has 10 syllables if "Juan" has one syllable, and 11 syllables
if "Juan" has two.

Thus the one-syllable version is what conforms with the poem's overall
iambic pentameter structure:
...but the 11-syllable version is what matches lines 2 and 4 of that same stanza.
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  #13  
Old 04-14-2012, 12:53 PM
colonial colonial is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt
Rhymes, feminine rhymes. BTW: I think maybe Jaques is a pun on jakes.
OK, thanks, that is so for passage cited here, and I see per Wiki that elsewhere
Byron rimes “Cadiz” with “ladies”.

Shakespeare rarely uses rime in his plays, and so I wonder if “Jaques” is actually
rimed in the play.

In an earlier SDMB thread A member related that English speakers of Byron’s day
and earlier did not pronounce foreign words as they were pronounced in their native languages.
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Old 04-14-2012, 01:07 PM
colonial colonial is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
...but the 11-syllable version is what matches lines 2 and 4 of that same stanza.
One extra syllable is a device employed to avoid the monotony
of universal 10 syllable lines and (in rimed poetry) of masculine rime.

Curiously I think truncated (9-syllable) lines almost never occur.
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Old 04-14-2012, 01:38 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colonial View Post

Shakespeare rarely uses rime in his plays ...............
That statement needs to be qualified. In his early plays, especially the comedies (Love's Labours Lost for example) Shakespeare uses a considerable amount of rhymed passages.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:08 AM
cjepson cjepson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Frankly, I do not know what you are talking about WRT titles, but the ROB'n-hood thing is distinctively American, and, to me anyway, very noticeable. British people do not do it. I have never heard Americans do it with other names either, just this one.
But... doesn't it sound like ROB'n-hood in the theme song to the TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood, which was parodied by Monty Python in their "Dennis Moore" sketch?
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