Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's Not Pronounced "Pahk-ee-stahn"

I caught only about ten minutes of the second Presidential debate yesterday (due to the demands of a normal family life, I rarely spend my leisure time watching TV in the evenings) but that was enough to hear the name "Pakistan" mispronounced about twenty times. By coincidence, this week my English as a Second Language class is working on long and short vowel sounds, so maybe I was particularly sensitive to how both candidates mispronounced the word such that the last syllable rhymed with "don" when it should rhyme with "man." In McCain's case, he usually said "Pahk-ee-stahn," and Obama always said "Puck-ee-stahn." They're a bad influence on my students.

I once had an ESL student from Kosovo who would go into a rage when he heard native English speakers twist the 'Stans - Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, etc. - into 'Stahns. He could see that such people are pretending that a foreign word mispronounced in English is being correctly pronounced in whichever foreign language. But it's not, and people who do that are just putting on airs.

If one of the candidates would drop the faux foreign pronunciation and just say "Pak-ee-stan," I'd be so happy I'll vote for him.

1 comment:

Mark Tempest said...

Isn't it amazing how this campaign can cause you to lower your standards on what will swing your vote?

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