Come Mister Tallyban tally me banana

Thank you president Obama for this ear worm. Of all the things you had to consistently mispronounce it was Taliban. After hearing him say Tallyban over and over I have placed Obama in my mind as Harry Belafonte singing the Banana Boat song with Tallyban replacing tally man over and over. Now that the song is stuck in my head I’m seeing a resemblance between the two men I will never be able to get rid of. Argh! Taliban the new nuclear.


Cite for this being a wrong pronunciation, as opposed to just a different one? Obama also pronounces Pakistan differently from most people, although other people in his administration seem to say it the same way. But he’s not saying Pakistan wrong, and I think it’s closer to the way the word is pronounced in Urdu.

Here’s an interesting Politico article about Obama being a stickler - kind of a junior Alex Trebek - on this stuff. All the same, yeah, the way he says these words is still weird and distracting to me.

You could always get rid of it by replacing it with this melody. Just replace the lyrics.

How are things in Tora Bora?
Are Al Qaeda still hiding there?

Kind of like how local lily white newscasters will go out of their way to adopt an extreme Spanish-y pronunciation when talking about everyday words. “Mr. Smith was reportedly eating an ENN-she-LAAAH-dah and talking to his neighbor from Meh-HEEE-COH when he was hit by a runaway Cadillac ESS-kee-LAAAH-day.” I think SNL had a skit about this once.

I kinda like the idea of making people think about Harry Belafonte when the subject of the Taliban is brought up. Helps me take them less seriously. I doubt that they actively seek to be mocked. But the world would be a better place if everyone gave them the mocking they deserve.

I remember that one. They had Victoria Jackson doing a report of Nicarrrragua.

You’re not the first to make the association: Banana Boat Taliban parody was doing the rounds in late 2001/early 2002.

“Daylight come and me wan go home…”

I noticed his pronunciation and have so much faith in his intelligence that I assume that he is correct. One of my college professors told me that proper nouns can be pronounced with some variety anyway. I would assume that he is pronouncing it the way that it would be pronounced by leaders there. It sounds more natural to me.

Unless you are getting three syllables out of “Qaeda,” you are going to need another syllable. You can always just add “not” after “Al Qaeda.”

I’ve been looking for a second line to “How are things in guacamole?” for years. Yeah, I know it doesn’t make sense, but it has a good beat.

Obama pronounces Pakistan as the locals do. Taliban, locally, is pronounced taa-li-baan, with a soft T sound that no American I know seems to be able to differentiate from a hard T sound. It’s a sound that I think doesn’t exist in the English language, or at least I’m unable to find a word that uses it, to be able to explain the difference to my friends.

The closest I can come to an explanation is this:

Say tree. Now say three. See where your tongue is when you say three? It’s not the same place as tree, right? Now say T with your tongue at the the position where you start the word three. That’s a soft T sound. Am I making any sense?

Next time you meet a South Asian friend, ask them to pronounce a native language word that uses a soft T and a hard T, and see if you can make out the difference. Chances are, you can’t.

Boat parody just reminded me of this hilarious SNL short (NSFW lyrics):

I’m on a boat muthaf***:

Are serrano chilies lurking there?

I already knew about the parody. I just didn’t associate it with Obama until now.

Just so you know, I’ve been looking and sounding like a moron at my desk for a few minutes now. :slight_smile:

This is fascinating. Are there any audio clips with the difference? No matter how hard I try, I don’t seem to be able to do the soft T sound. I keep making a TH sound.

Depends on how you sing it. In ‘Is that willow tree still weeping there?’, ‘Is’ and ‘that’ come a little closer together than the rest of the words in the line. IANA musician, but to me, ‘is’ is sort of a ‘pre-beat’. So you don’t have to sing ‘Are Al Qa-ay-da still hiding there?’; you just have to lengthen the ‘are’ a little bit and sing ‘A-re Al Qaeda still hiding there?’.

Here in the UK, we say it the way I understand the OP to say Obama says it: tallyban or tallybarn. We tend to use -arn where the US seems to say -an. (I wasn’t aware of the soft t, as explained by xash, though.)

But here in the UK, some US pronunciations stand out: eye-rak for ir-rark, for example. I suppose the only correct way is the one the people of that country use. Even then, there’s variations due to dialects. Tricky stuff.

I was puttering in the kitchen when The Prez was talking - totally gave me an earworm!

The beautiful caves of Tora Bora
Hide al Qaeda more and more-a

yup, I even get the visual of the dining room scene from Beetlejuice every single time