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  #1  
Old 12-07-2004, 10:45 AM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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Why can't we call folks what they want to be called?

When I was studying French in junior high school, I remember it bothered me that they called their language Français, and we called it French. Mexicans call their language Espańol, but we call it Spanish. What we call English, they call Ingles. This came back to me reading this thread, in which it was mentioned that we call the Gŕidhlig language Scots Gaelic.

This phenomenon continues in names of people (Japanese :: Nipponese), countries (Deutchland :: Germany) and cities (Munich :: München). I understand some issues of pronunciation, when one language just doesn't have the sounds from another. That may explain why we say Mexican instead of Mexicano, where the "x" is pronounced with a sound that doesn't exist in English, but why do we pronounce that large French city as PARE-iss instead of Pare-EE?

This seems to be a fairly universal phenomenon, and it just doesn't make sense to me. If I meet someone from another culture, and they say they're Lakota, then I'm going to call them Lakota, by golly, rather than making up a word of my own to refer to them. It's easier, it shows them more respect, it avoids future confusion, and I just can't understand why we don't all do it.

Can anyone explain this phenomenon?
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  #2  
Old 12-07-2004, 11:08 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is online now
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Because we're speaking English. The English word for "francais" is "French." The English word for "Nippon" is "Japan." The English word for "Deutschland" is "Germany."

It's the same for other languages. The French word for "English" is "Anglais."

As for Paris, that's how the French spell it. English speakers pronounce it the way they do because that's how you'd pronounce that word in English.

The cultural sensitivity you advocate is a very recent phenomenon. People historically have given their own names to those not of their group, and these often only have vague similarities to the other group's name for themselves.
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Old 12-07-2004, 11:15 AM
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Why did it happen first? Probably because communication was difficult when places were named. Some places were probably named before we KNEW what they called themselves, or a region named than wasn't considered one piece by the inhabitants.

Why continue? Because you can't persuade 10 billion people to use a different word for something they've been saying all their lives.
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Old 12-07-2004, 11:15 AM
zamboniracer zamboniracer is offline
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Such hyper cultural sensitivity is two way street that nobody abides by. For example, I'm no linguist but the last time I checked (while in Miami in 1989) a Cuban-emigre's label for all white Americans was "gringo", which is a name I didn't appreciate but which there was no particular point arguing with him about.
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Old 12-07-2004, 11:21 AM
aahala aahala is offline
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When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Speak Roman.
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  #6  
Old 12-07-2004, 11:26 AM
Jayrot Jayrot is offline
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What in the world is "Nipponese" ?
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  #7  
Old 12-07-2004, 11:34 AM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Merely because other languages, for lack of a better description, have different words for things, and it doesn't stop at place names and proper names. Someone speaking Czech will prefer that you say "Praha" when speaking Czech, but doesn't care that you call it Prague in your own language.

The names of other cultures is somewhat different, as oftentimes we learned the incorrect name of a culture from a neighbor and it came into popular usage, like:

"What do you call those people over there?"
"Them? Oh, we call them "navajo." ("enemy")
"Ah, so those are the "Navajo."

Many Navajo will refer to themselves as such when speaking English, just accepting that that's the English word for "Dineh."
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Old 12-07-2004, 11:39 AM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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It's a simple case of two languages changing over time in different ways.

When speakers of language A first meets speakers of language B they usually exchange names for things, or fairly close approximations where the pronunciation is found to be difficult. (That's when they're not killing or inventing more derogatory names for each other.)

But over time pronunciations change within a language, and they don't necessarily change in the same ways in both languages. Before you know it what started off as very similar words in both have diverged and are pronounced completely differently.

It's not the fault of either language or its speakers. But it's less likely to happen in future due to a more frequent exposure to foreign cultures and increased literacy (written words are less likely to shift pronunciation).
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  #9  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:12 PM
Roches Roches is offline
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I agree that pronunciation is the most important reason. The 'x' in Mexico or Mexicano is not a sound most English speakers can produce easily. The French pronunciation of Paris includes at least two sounds that English does not have -- the a sound is found in English only in diphthongs, and the r sound is different. The 'ee' sound is probably different too. So an English speaker who does not know French can choose between saying 'Paris' in an Anglicized way or trying to pronounce 'Pair-ee' and having it sound very wrong to a French speaker.
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  #10  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:13 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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"How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm / After they've seen Paree"

As for Navajo, that comes from a word in Tewa (one of the Pueblo Indian languages) meaning 'an arroyo with cultivated fields'.
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  #11  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:23 PM
glee glee is offline
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Explorer: "I say! You there! What is your word for that?"
Explorer points at mountain.

Native looks slightly puzzled.

Explorer: "PAY ATTENTION! WHAT IS YOUR WORD FOR THIS?"
Explorer points at mountain.

Native: "Tippofyorephynga".

And so Mount Tip-of-Your-Finger was named.
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  #12  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:28 PM
gum gum is offline
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Oh how I wish people would call us 'Netherlanders' or 'Hollanders' instead of Dutch.

We don't live in Dutchland. We live in the Netherlands [some call it Holland]
We speak Netherlands or Hollands.

Just because it used to be Deutsch from the old 'Deutschland' [which we call Germany anyway], there's no need to keep that up. It's confusing as heck.



gum. Netherlandse. [female version of Netherlander]
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  #13  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:56 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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[QUOTE=gum]Oh how I wish people would call us 'Netherlanders' or 'Hollanders' instead of Dutch. [QUOTE]Are people in your country still refering to themselves as Dutch? Or is this something that just the wrest of the world (or maybe just we 'Mericans) do?
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  #14  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:58 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gum
Oh how I wish people would call us 'Netherlanders' or 'Hollanders' instead of Dutch.
Are people in your country still refering to themselves as Dutch? Or is this something that just the wrest of the world (or maybe just we 'Mericans) do?
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  #15  
Old 12-07-2004, 01:00 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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"Wrest"???? :wally
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  #16  
Old 12-07-2004, 01:38 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayrot
What in the world is "Nipponese" ?
Nippon is the proper name for Japan. Thus, the people and language we call Japanese should rightly be called Nipponese.
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  #17  
Old 12-07-2004, 02:38 PM
spingears spingears is offline
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Calling............

When in Rome do as the Romans do!
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  #18  
Old 12-07-2004, 03:27 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InvisibleWombat
If I meet someone from another culture, and they say they're Lakota, then I'm going to call them Lakota, by golly, rather than making up a word of my own to refer to them.
I'd call them whatever I damn well pleased and let them Sioux me if they didn't like it.

It's been only recently when people started caring what you called them. Before that they were just happy if you didn't shoot them.
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  #19  
Old 12-07-2004, 03:45 PM
Giles Giles is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3=
Nippon is the proper name for Japan. Thus, the people and language we call Japanese should rightly be called Nipponese.
The romanised form of the Japanese name for Japan is "Nihon".
The romanised form of the Japanese name for the Japanese language is "Nihongo".
The romanised form of the Japanese name for Japanese people is "Nihonjin".

I don't know where this word "Nipponese" comes from, but it doesn't come from Nihongo (otherwise known as Jaoanese).
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  #20  
Old 12-07-2004, 04:04 PM
shijinn shijinn is offline
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is the OP's phenomenon related to that one where people feel all disgusted when other people's name aren't spelled or pronounced the way they feel it should be?

recent threads:

You're naming your baby what!
A request when saying a name unfamiliar to you:
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  #21  
Old 12-07-2004, 04:25 PM
mrklutz mrklutz is offline
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And of course, in addition to all the linguistic peculiarities already mentioned, there's the whole aspect of political change. We call it Germany, the locals call it Deutchland. Well, centuries past, before there was a nation named Deutchland, those pesky Latin-speaking people called the area "Germania." (Where that came from, I don't know right offhand.) I'm sure there are plenty of examples of similar holdovers.

Language is a funny thing, and English even moreso.
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  #22  
Old 12-07-2004, 04:49 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jomo Mojo
"How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm / After they've seen Paree"

As for Navajo, that comes from a word in Tewa (one of the Pueblo Indian languages) meaning 'an arroyo with cultivated fields'.

Whoops...I meant Apache, Zuni for "enemy." The Mexicans called the Navajo "Apaches de Navajo," enemies of the cultivated fields--they were Apacheans, but agriculturalists.
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  #23  
Old 12-07-2004, 05:02 PM
scr4 scr4 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giles
The romanised form of the Japanese name for Japan is "Nihon".
The romanised form of the Japanese name for the Japanese language is "Nihongo".
The romanised form of the Japanese name for Japanese people is "Nihonjin".

I don't know where this word "Nipponese" comes from, but it doesn't come from Nihongo (otherwise known as Jaoanese).
Nippon is an alternative pronunciation of Nihon in Japanese. And Nipponjin is a valid alternative of Nihonjin. (But Nippongo is not - not sure why, it just sounds weird.)
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  #24  
Old 12-07-2004, 05:22 PM
Jayrot Jayrot is offline
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Yes I know all of that. What I was remarking is that using Nipponese doesn't make any sense in the context of the OP's examples (Munchen, Deutchland). Indeed, as Giles said, the analogous term would be nihonjin.

Why don't we say nihonjin? It doesn't fit with our naming convention for nationalities. Though it's far from a perfect rule, we recognize -ese, -er, -ite, etc. as suffixes signifying "a person from ---". We don't recognize -jin for this meaning. At best Jin is a character from Tekken.
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  #25  
Old 12-07-2004, 05:47 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayrot
Yes I know all of that. What I was remarking is that using Nipponese doesn't make any sense in the context of the OP's examples (Munchen, Deutchland). Indeed, as Giles said, the analogous term would be nihonjin.
The OP was confused, thinking Nipponese was what Japanese call themselves. That's the only thing that makes sense. Wakarimasu ka?
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  #26  
Old 12-08-2004, 12:38 AM
gum gum is offline
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Originally posted by Bear_Nenno
Quote:
Are people in your country still refering to themselves as Dutch? Or is this something that just the rest of the world (or maybe just we 'Mericans) do?
We call ourselves Nederlanders!

The rest of the world is soooo wrong. Pah.
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  #27  
Old 12-08-2004, 12:39 AM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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Yep - I was confused on "Nipponese."

Those of you commenting on "cultural sensitivity" are missing the point of my post entirely, and the Nipponese confusion is a great example of what I'm talking about.

I'm not trying to be sensitive, I'm trying to be sensible. A great deal of confusion could be eliminated if we stopped trying to rename people and countries. You want to call your country Fredland? Fine. Let's update all the maps and have everybody call it Fredland. No problems in airline reservations, newscasts, or anything else.
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  #28  
Old 12-08-2004, 12:48 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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I've got a better solution. If all those dern furiners would just learn to talk American, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place!
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  #29  
Old 12-08-2004, 01:30 AM
Dijon Warlock Dijon Warlock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayrot
At best Jin is a character from Tekken.
No, at best, she's a quite fetching artist from Texas.

And we (or, at least, I) miss her here.
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  #30  
Old 12-09-2004, 03:00 PM
Excalibre Excalibre is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3=
Nippon is the proper name for Japan. Thus, the people and language we call Japanese should rightly be called Nipponese.
Unless you implement that as a universal policy, and refer to every group the way it likes, then it's even worse. And if you do, I'll point and laugh. Especially when you discover that half the people out there are going to demand something different, and you have to figure out whether that Moldovan is actually Transnistrian.

Besides, "Nippon", at least in the opinion of this native English speaker, is a really stupid sounding word. Naturally sound associations are different in different languages - but while Nippon might work find in Nihongo, it sounds like crap to me. Isn't it better that I use a word that doesn't sound stupid in referring to foreigners?
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Old 12-09-2004, 03:49 PM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Excalibre
...but while Nippon might work find in Nihongo, it sounds like crap to me. Isn't it better that I use a word that doesn't sound stupid in referring to foreigners?
I think "sounding stupid" is a rather subjective way to pick words. English has plenty of words that sound stupid to me, but you may like them. Hmm. That would make an interesting thread: Stoopidest-sounding English words.
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  #32  
Old 12-09-2004, 07:58 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roches
I agree that pronunciation is the most important reason. The 'x' in Mexico or Mexicano is not a sound most English speakers can produce easily.
Actually, I've been told by a number of my Mexican friends that "Mexico" is an Aztec word, not a Spanish word, and that it is properly pronounced "MECKS-i-ko" (just like we say it in English), not MEY-hee-ko (as the Spanish pronunciation would have it).
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  #33  
Old 12-11-2004, 08:22 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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In medieval Spanish, the letter x was used to represent the "sh" sound (as it still is in Portuguese). But around the time of the Renaissance there was a sound shift in Castilian pronunciation, and the former "sh" sound changed to a "kh" sound. The original Nahuatl name of México must have had a "sh" sound which the Spaniards wrote with "x" as the only letter in their alphabet that could represent that sound. Sure, nowadays they say mé-hi-ko or mé-khi-ko in modern Spanish pronunciation, but the original may have been me-shi-ko or something like that. The nearby location Xochimilco is another example. In modern Spanish it's pronounced Sochimilco, but if the original Nahuatl had been pronounced that way, the 16th-century Spaniards could have just written it with S. If it had been pronounced Shochimilko, that would explain the spelling with X. Modern Spanish has lost the "sh" sound, that's all. In the case of Xochimilco, they substituted the nearest approximation, the "s" sound.

The Turkish government recently had a campaign to get everyone to call their country Türkiye, complete with 2 dots over the u, but it seems there are no takers. Hey, it had worked for them years ago, when they got everyone to change Constantinople to Istanbul, Angora to Ankara, Smyrna to Izmir, etc. But it seems country names are more resistant to change than city names. The demand of Ivory Coast that all English speakers call it Côte d'Ivoire has had at least partial success. The U.S. State Department is now using the French form of the name officially.
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  #34  
Old 12-11-2004, 08:43 PM
scr4 scr4 is online now
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The title of the thread is "Why can't we call folks what they want to be called?" Have you considered the possibility that what people want to be called is not necessarily what they call themselves? I'm Japanese and when I'm speaking in Japanese, I refer to my country as Nihon or Nippon. But when I'm speaking in English I prefer to use the English words "Japan" and "Japanese". The English word referring to that country has always been "Japan," and I see no compelling reason to change a functional, inoffensive and widely used word.

Quote:
I'm not trying to be sensitive, I'm trying to be sensible. A great deal of confusion could be eliminated if we stopped trying to rename people and countries.
What exactly is the confusion? When you learn to speak a foreign language, you'll learn what the natives call their country. But when you're speaking English, all you need is the English name of that country. It would be far more confusing if we started borrowing foreign words.
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  #35  
Old 12-11-2004, 10:13 PM
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I'm Hungarian, and the Hungarian word for the people who live in Hungary is "Magyar,", and the Hungarian name for Hungary is "Magyarország" ("ország" means "country" in Hungarian). Where and how the English language got "Hungary" from "Magyar" is beyond me.

In Hungarian, we also have our peculiarities for naming certain countries. Some are fairly close to their English equivalents, such as "Franciaország" for France, "Norvégia" for Norway, and "Kanada" for Canada. However, it's "Németország" for Germany, "Olaszország" for Italy, and "Oroszország" for Russia.

I'm just curious ... how is the country of Hungary pronounced in other languages? I know it's "Ungarn" in German, "Hongroise" in French, but how is it pronounced in other languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, etc.?
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  #36  
Old 12-12-2004, 12:34 AM
gum gum is offline
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It's Hongarije here. Pronounced: Hon gggggaaaaa [hard g, long a] ri yuh.

What's 'the Netherlands' in Magyaran?
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  #37  
Old 12-12-2004, 01:32 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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In Turkish, Hungary is Macaristan. (C is pronounced j in Turkish, so it's pronounced Majaristan.)

In Turkish, Poland is Lehistan. That means the land of Lech, as in Walesa.
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Old 12-12-2004, 01:34 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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In Hungarian, the Netherlands is called Németalföld. That ought to drive you crazy, gum.
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  #39  
Old 12-12-2004, 01:55 PM
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Gum, similar as in English, the Hungarians tend to call the Netherlands "Hollandia", in addition to the official name that Jomo Mojo gave.

Jomo Mojo, that's interesting that the Turks call Hungary (more or less) by the name of its people, namely "Magyar." Not many languages use "Magyar" in their pronunciation of Hungary.

Just as an FYI, we call Turkey "Törökország" (the "o" with the umlaut over it is pronounced like the "o" in the word polite, but round your lips).
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Old 12-12-2004, 05:34 PM
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The KEEyoto Accords or Protocols or whatever it is we're ignoring

I've noticed that newscasters started saying, "Keeyoto" making it 3 syllables, instead of Kyoto with two. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's Kyoto w/two.

I'm basing this on the Korean (well, Korean-in-America for a long time which is not necessarily Korean from Korea) pronunciation of it, which barely acknowledges the "yuh" sound. The emphasis is definitely on the long "o."

Is there a good reason for the newscasters switching the pronunciation?

I read a book "is there a cow in Moscow" which promised to give me all the derivations & alternatives & authentic pronunciations of various words, from a stuffy British type, but was very disappointed. I ended up disagreeing with the author over the "correct" (read "snobby") pronunciation, although I think we both acknowledge that even if there is a "correct" way, it's not worth much in the end.

Anway, when I start rolling my eyes at the KEEyoto thing, am I being even more of a putz than they?
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Old 12-12-2004, 05:53 PM
coilycat coilycat is offline
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Afghan? i?

I missed the memo announcing that it was uncouth to call folks from Afghanistan Afghani. Am I imagining that it used to be Afghani, whereas afghan was either a dog or a blanket?

possibly I am thinking of Pakistani? Meaning I should have looked for Afghanistani?

I'm just proud that I know the plurals of Tutsi & Hutu (Watutsi & Mahutu, which I find wonderful & fascinating).

Also, I always thought it was perfectly respectful to say "black," but now I hear African-American. But I had a roommate from Ghana who might have bristled at hearing people called "african-american" when their families had been in the US for 150 years.

So I've asked black people what they call themselves, and mostly they say black but don't seem to mind african american either. I think I might end up just saying African American so that NON african americans don't think I'm rude!!

And has anyone figured out a way to specify "from the US" as opposed to "American" which would be possibly from Canada or South America? That's one I would like to distinguish even if Canadians & Peruvians don't mind being cut out of "American."
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  #42  
Old 12-12-2004, 05:55 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jomo Mojo
In medieval Spanish, the letter x was used to represent the "sh" sound (as it still is in Portuguese). But around the time of the Renaissance there was a sound shift in Castilian pronunciation, and the former "sh" sound changed to a "kh" sound. The original Nahuatl name of México must have had a "sh" sound which the Spaniards wrote with "x" as the only letter in their alphabet that could represent that sound. Sure, nowadays they say mé-hi-ko or mé-khi-ko in modern Spanish pronunciation, but the original may have been me-shi-ko or something like that. The nearby location Xochimilco is another example. In modern Spanish it's pronounced Sochimilco, but if the original Nahuatl had been pronounced that way, the 16th-century Spaniards could have just written it with S. If it had been pronounced Shochimilko, that would explain the spelling with X. Modern Spanish has lost the "sh" sound, that's all. In the case of Xochimilco, they substituted the nearest approximation, the "s" sound.
Interestingly, the Spanish write Mexico as "Mejico." And in reading early Spanish language literature, I read about "Tejas" and "Bejar" county, which maybe the Spanish still write, but seems obvious that if anything the Mexicans and Texans still write. Heck, the word "tejano" still refers to Mexican-derived Texans more than does "texano." I'd really like to know the history behind this. Especially, what was first, "Mejico" or "Mexico"? On a futher note, a couple of times I was on an Aeromexico flight, I noticed a lot in instances where "j" was used in lieu of "x" on the physical mouldings and signage. This was a Mexican plane in the Mexican fleet (i.e., AFAIK, Aeromexico not owned by the Spanish).
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Old 12-12-2004, 06:37 PM
Excalibre Excalibre is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balthisar
Interestingly, the Spanish write Mexico as "Mejico." And in reading early Spanish language literature, I read about "Tejas" and "Bejar" county, which maybe the Spanish still write, but seems obvious that if anything the Mexicans and Texans still write. Heck, the word "tejano" still refers to Mexican-derived Texans more than does "texano." I'd really like to know the history behind this. Especially, what was first, "Mejico" or "Mexico"? On a futher note, a couple of times I was on an Aeromexico flight, I noticed a lot in instances where "j" was used in lieu of "x" on the physical mouldings and signage. This was a Mexican plane in the Mexican fleet (i.e., AFAIK, Aeromexico not owned by the Spanish).
My understanding has always been that the Spanish spell the words with a "j", which is more consistent with general pronunciation and spelling principles in Spanish. Certainly other Spanish-speaking countries have no equivalents to the Royal Spanish Academy, which "approves" linguistic usages. In Mexico, on the other hand, I've read that it's something of a point of pride to spell those words with their original, "x"-containing spellings, even though it's irregular with respect to Spanish orthography.
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Old 12-12-2004, 08:14 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Excalibre
My understanding has always been that the Spanish spell the words with a "j", which is more consistent with general pronunciation and spelling principles in Spanish. Certainly other Spanish-speaking countries have no equivalents to the Royal Spanish Academy, which "approves" linguistic usages. In Mexico, on the other hand, I've read that it's something of a point of pride to spell those words with their original, "x"-containing spellings, even though it's irregular with respect to Spanish orthography.
My wife told me in the last couple of weeks the Academy had just "approved" "x" as being equivilent to "j" -- I don't know if in all cases this is true; just reporting on heresay.
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  #45  
Old 12-12-2004, 09:57 PM
Kozmik Kozmik is offline
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Similarily, the I believe the word "Wales" or "Welsh" is derived from the word for "stranger". The Welsh became strangers in their own land, and one might say the "Navajo" as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pravnik
Merely because other languages, for lack of a better description, have different words for things, and it doesn't stop at place names and proper names. Someone speaking Czech will prefer that you say "Praha" when speaking Czech, but doesn't care that you call it Prague in your own language.

The names of other cultures is somewhat different, as oftentimes we learned the incorrect name of a culture from a neighbor and it came into popular usage, like:

"What do you call those people over there?"
"Them? Oh, we call them "navajo." ("enemy")
"Ah, so those are the "Navajo."

Many Navajo will refer to themselves as such when speaking English, just accepting that that's the English word for "Dineh."
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  #46  
Old 12-12-2004, 10:14 PM
roger thornhill roger thornhill is offline
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Sometimes the universal propensity for changing names to fit local languages can have beneficial side effects. I only learned that Yugoslavia means Land of the Southern Slavs from the Cantonese rendering of the country's name. Pity the country promptly ceased to exist. (I learned the name for Yugoslavia, by the way, because when I was serious about learning the language and everyone replied to me in English, it was handy to say I came from there.)

Most countries are rendered predominantly according to the sound, with a Chinese character of a positive denotation being preferred - so that the USA (America) becomes mei-gwok ("beautiful country") and the UK (based on "England" - yes, it's not only Americans who confuse the two) becomes ying-gwok ("heroes' country").

Then you've got the renderings based on translation, as with Yugoslavia.

Sometimes, two alternative renderings are possible, so that New Zealand may be either san-sai-laan (san = new) or nau-sai-laan (nau sounds like new).
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  #47  
Old 12-13-2004, 12:37 AM
jovan jovan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coilycat
I've noticed that newscasters started saying, "Keeyoto" making it 3 syllables, instead of Kyoto with two. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's Kyoto w/two.
If you count syllables the way Japanese do, it's three: kyo-o-to. The first "o" sound is long, which means it's held for the duration of two syllables.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jomo Mojo
In medieval Spanish, the letter x was used to represent the "sh" sound (as it still is in Portuguese). But around the time of the Renaissance there was a sound shift in Castilian pronunciation, and the former "sh" sound changed to a "kh" sound. The original Nahuatl name of México must have had a "sh" sound which the Spaniards wrote with "x" as the only letter in their alphabet that could represent that sound.
The X sound in romanized classical Nahuatl is an unvoiced palato-alveolar fricative. In other words, it's indeed pronunced like the English /sh/ sound. Here's some reading on Nahuatl phonetics.
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