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Thread: When American celebrities can't pronounce their own name properly

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rethel View Post
    And you did it just wrong, you will
    not find it, becasue it is pronounced
    śi.an with proper tones in addition.

    Shi ≠ śi.
    As I explained above, when there is no exact equivalent in English (or in one's mother tongue) it is fine to use the nearest equivalent. There are many different types of voiceless alveolar fricative, but most people (in any language) wouldn't be able to distinguish all of them, unless they are trained linguists with a good ear.

    It can be compare, when someone is
    saying Mynshien insted of Münch'en,
    Hambursh insted of Hamburch', or
    schlescht insted f schlech't...
    Ditto. What's more these sounds vary depending on the region and dialect of German. In the Rhineland, for example, the two are indistinguishable. Anyway I don't expect an English speaker who hasn't learned German to be able to pronounce the German ch, at least the voiceless velar fricative in words like Bach or durch, which is only found in Scottish English and Scouse. The voiceless palatal fricative [ç] occurs in British and Australian English in words like hue, but not in American English.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rethel View Post
    I repeat once again: I agree with you, that bearers of the name should know how to pronouce it, but if they live in another country, where are different rules of reading or surname was adapted, it can, and should be pronouced by others, as such. In Poland lived - as I estimate - at least 10% Germans, but all their surnames are polonized, often of course have oiginal form, but in many cases dont. Should they change it again, if they did adapt it 500 years ago? Should they forced people how to pronouced umlauts, backtoungish r or soft ch in the middle or at the end of the word? Come on!
    Of course you shouldn't force people to learn to make sounds that aren't found in their language. Here is an example of what I mean. Take the German name Wallenstein.

    - Pronouncing it Way-len-steen (as some Americans might do) would be wrong.
    - Saying Vaah-len-shtine would be correct.

    Of course there are no sounds in that name that aren't found in English. So let's take another example: Schönberg. Now, the German ö and r sounds don't exist in English, so it's fine to replace them by the most similar sound, such as the long ə sound (as in bird with a silent r) and the English r. The important here is to make a long 'ə' sound, and not an 'o' or any other English vowel. Let's say like the Irish given name Sean but with a longer vowel. As for the e in berg, it should rhyme with bear and not with bird. So something like Seean-bear-g. It won't sound the same as in German, but it is definitely better than saying scone-birg like many Americans.

    Examples:

    Müller/Möller adapted as Muller, Miler, Miller, Moller and similar.
    Schmidt as Szmid, Szmit, and similar
    -stein (which hurt you so much) as stein, szejn, sztyn (all oldpolish adaptations), sztajn, and similar.
    -ie as i, ie...
    -ei as ei, ej, aj, y, e...

    usw, aso, etc.
    I completely agree that it is ok for Americans to Anglicise a foreign (e.g. German) surname, especially when its an occupational name that can be easily translate like Mühler/Miller, Schumacher/Shoemaker or Schmidt/Smith. Patronymic surnames are even easier to translate (Janssen => Johnson). It's much better to change the spelling officially and pronounce it correctly in English than to stick with the original German and mispronounce it. Ditto for German names in Polish.

    Now, even if it isn't occupational names can often be translated based on the root components. For instance, a name like Ostwald would become Eastwood in English.

    The ultimate rule for Americans with foreign names should be: if you can't pronounce it, change it to an English name. It's better than to sound like a fool who can't pronounce his/her own name properly.

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    @Maciamo,

    We do try to pronounce foreign language surnames. To pronounce them perfectly requires education. But that education holds no practical value. Americans who carry foreign language surnames aren't deeply offended when people miss pronounce their names and infact they often they miss pronounce their names.

    Americans don't have to pronounce their surnames correctly to respect their family's heritage. And trust me many Americans are aware of and proud of family heritage. But that doesn't mean we identify with the *multiple* countries our ancestors lived in and languages they spoke. Most of us, not all obviously, only identify as American and with the English language. Maybe you don't understand that. Maybe in other countries it takes more generations to assimilate.

    Americans aren't "lazy" or "afraid" of learning a new language. We just don't think pronouncing a surname with a slight or strong English accent is offensive.

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    And in case you didn't know Maciamo many Indians in America replace their birth first name with an English first name so that Americans can pronounce their name. If that isn't disrespecting your ancestor country and family I don't know what is. It's all about practicality.

    And btw Americans can learn to say and do say most foreign language surnames but we do so with mostly English pronunciation. We do the best we can. We don't learn to make sounds which we literally don't know how to make. I don't see why that is a problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    In the Rhineland, for example, the two are indistinguishable.
    It has to be some villige dialect, becasue normal german speaker does
    not speak like that. It would be even silly. Even I can hear the difference...

    Anyway I don't expect an English speaker who hasn't learned German to be able to pronounce the German ch,
    This is exactly, what you proposed - insted of using adapt form, you
    want to pronouce as it is in original, BUT now, you want to use some
    cripple corrupt form insetd of form which fits to language of the user.

    The voiceless palatal fricative [ç] occurs in British and Australian English in words like hue, but not in American English.
    But saying this at the end of the word or in the middle it is different story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    - Pronouncing it Way-len-steen (as some Americans might do) would be wrong.
    - Saying Vaah-len-shtine would be correct.
    Ok, I get it, but if there is a rule, that stein is reading
    as stin, always, then I don't see a problem.

    Of course there are no sounds in that name that aren't found in English. So let's take another example: Schönberg. Now, the German ö and r sounds don't exist in English, so it's fine to replace them by the most similar sound, such as the long ə sound (as in bird with a silent r) and the English r. The important here is to make a long 'ə' sound, and not an 'o' or any other English vowel. Let's say like the Irish given name Sean but with a longer vowel. As for the e in berg, it should rhyme with bear and not with bird. So something like Seean-bear-g. It won't sound the same as in German, but it is definitely better than saying scone-birg like many Americans.
    So you would have to create such rule IN ENGLISH.

    I completely agree that it is ok for Americans to Anglicise a foreign (e.g. German) surname, especially when its an occupational name that can be easily translate like Mühler/Miller, Schumacher/Shoemaker or Schmidt/Smith. Patronymic surnames are even easier to translate (Janssen => Johnson).
    And here I am against. This is total corruption and denationalization.

    Adapt it does not mean translate of replace by local native variant.

    It's much better to change the spelling officially and pronounce it correctly in English than to stick with the original German and mispronounce it. Ditto for German names in Polish.
    Some are also in original orthoraphy, and noone makes any problems if someone differently spealling.
    Some spelled ö as o some as e. No big deal. Everybody understand the thing.

    Now, even if it isn't occupational names can often be translated based on the root components. For instance, a name like Ostwald would become Eastwood in English. The ultimate rule for Americans with foreign names should be: if you can't pronounce it, change it to an English name.
    Terrible.
    So you have problem with correct spealling, but has no problem with
    total desctrucion of the original name by replaceing it by local variant.

    It's better than to sound like a fool who can't pronounce his/her own name properly.
    0:1. Everything or nothing. Tragic.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rethel View Post
    0:1. Everything or nothing. Tragic.
    Exactly........

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Maciamo - I admire your zeal for correctness and sympathize with your view. Americans largely don't care. Most of us couldn't even find Ukraine or Portugal on a map. The only real second language is Spanish for dealing with Latinos.

    I'm not exactly certain how families who don't anglicize their name manage to change the pronunciation of it. Maybe it's due to accents. If it happened over generations, would you expect the children to tell their elders it needs to be changed now?

    I can say that in Louisiana, some obviously french words/names are anglicized on a case by case basis. Herbert can be Her-burt or ay-bear (almost always ay-bear). I frequently guess incorrectly and I suppose it's just something they learn on a case by case basis.

    The only family groups that I know to keep a strong family identity with the old countries are the Scottish clans.

    Since getting into the genealogy hobby I have been asking people "where does that name come from" or "what does your last name mean." Almost nobody knows unless it's something as simple as Smith.

    Example: A family named Fink who looks very German had no idea that it was a German name or that it meant Finch. Apparently it had never crossed their minds, and these aren't heathens but educated and well-kept people. I don't know how else to say that most Americans simply don't care. My own surname can be found in England, Scotland, and even Ireland but nobody in my family had any idea where our people came from. I think we had about six generations written down from an old-timer's family bible.

    History knowledge in general is not much beyond "we sure kicked the Japs and Germans around in WW2." It's sad honestly. There are plenty of smart people but the main problem is they just don't care. Nevermind the ones who can barely read and drop out of school. As for learning spelling shifts of other languages - hahahahaha. Very few Americans could identify by sound any European language, except perhaps Spanish. Never expect this of Americans.

    From German immigrants around where I live, the language was completely lost in about two generations. The grandkids had no interest in learning it. Older Americans seemed perfectly content to toss their heritage aside. I personally wouldn't.

    Maybe it had to do with the fact that everybody came together to form a new culture in a higher risk environment. It was a "what have you got to show for yourself" type attitude rather than leaning on some sort of family pride. The early Scots-Irish people, for example, moved from Scotland to Northern Ireland for a hundred years. Then they came to Virginia. Their kids moved to North Carolina. Their kids took advantage of land grants in Georgia or Tennessee. Their kids moved on to Texas or Arkansas. Their kids or grand kids might have gone to Detroit for a job in the automobile factories. After attending school, their kids could end up in almost any state. I never heard a lot of stories about the past from old timers growing up. People constantly on the move attach less meaning to places.

    The blue blooded families who have very solid family histories are more often the New England types who settled in Boston and stayed there for 13 generations. My family branch that goes back to Plymouth is very well documented going back to England in the 1500's.

    We do have a high enough population to produce plenty of folks that do care. It currently is a tiny percentage and I'm hoping the ethnicity test fad will increase awareness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    That's odd considering that the spelling rules in Turkish were mostly copied from German, and like German it is perfectly phonetic. Turkish even has the same sounds as in German (ö, ü). There are really just a few consonants to know:

    C => like an English j (a sound that doesn't exist in German)
    Ç => like an English ch (ditto)
    Ş => like an English sh
    Ğ => lengthen the preceding vowel (everybody knows it in the name Erdoğan)

    Do you really know Turks in Germany who can't remember how these four letters are pronounced?
    Yes I know people that have a hard time pronouncing their name especially the ğ just because depending where you come form people pronounce it differently in Turkey were we are from in the west we make it more like the ghayn from arabic would be the best way to explain it. Some people have trouble with the ğ, and there are people who also have trouble with e in Turkish because in German the e makes the e sound but in Turkish it makes more of an a say like minare which is pronounce like men nah ray. Some of the Turks in Germany are like 4,5, or even 6th generations in some cases. So some of them parents probably do not even speak Turkish and maybe their parents parents didn't even speak Turkish its just Turkish by name.

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    @tahir0010,

    Turks in Germany miss pronounce their surnames? Like how Germans in America miss pronounce their surnames.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired14 View Post
    @Maciamo,

    We do try to pronounce foreign language surnames. To pronounce them perfectly requires education. But that education holds no practical value. Americans who carry foreign language surnames aren't deeply offended when people miss pronounce their names and infact they often they miss pronounce their names.

    Americans don't have to pronounce their surnames correctly to respect their family's heritage. And trust me many Americans are aware of and proud of family heritage. But that doesn't mean we identify with the *multiple* countries our ancestors lived in and languages they spoke. Most of us, not all obviously, only identify as American and with the English language. Maybe you don't understand that. Maybe in other countries it takes more generations to assimilate.

    Americans aren't "lazy" or "afraid" of learning a new language. We just don't think pronouncing a surname with a slight or strong English accent is offensive.

    You haven't read at all what I wrote in this thread. You do not need to learn a foreign language to know the basic spelling conventions of a language. It's only a few letters to remember, typically those involving the sh and ch sounds, as these are written very differently in languages like English, French, German, Italian, Turkish or Chinese. Why can't people set aside 5 minutes to learn to pronounce only their own surname? That is unbelievable. The time you spent replying to my posts you would have had time to remember spelling conventions in at least 5 languages!

    Americans don't need to know or identify with the multiple countries of their ancestors. I am talking about their surname they inherited, that's all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired14 View Post
    And in case you didn't know Maciamo many Indians in America replace their birth first name with an English first name so that Americans can pronounce their name. If that isn't disrespecting your ancestor country and family I don't know what is. It's all about practicality.


    It's not only Indians who adopt English given names. Most immigrants do it, be it in America or in any country where one migrates. That's because it's so much easier to integrate with a local given name. Not doing it actually shows that the parents are not intending to integrate in the country in which they immigrated. It does happen, for example with North African immigrants in Europe, who still use Arabic given names after 3 generations in Europe. In contrast, people like people translate their given name even when studying for a few months in another European country, to 'go native' as much as possible.

    Read what I wrote above.: The ultimate rule for Americans with foreign names should be: if you can't pronounce it, change it to an English name. It's better than to sound like a fool who can't pronounce his/her own name properly.

    Did you know that in Japan any foreigners who applies to Japanese citizenship is required by law to choose a Japanese given name and surname? That's because Japanese language has very few vowels and consonants and it makes it very difficult for Japanese people to pronounce foreign names. As they don't like to butcher foreign pronunciation, as many sounds cannot be accurately rendered using Japanese script (Katakana in this case), they decided it would be better for everyone if naturalised citizens adopted Japanese names. I have permanent resident status in Japan and once considered naturalisation, but Japan does not allow dual citizenship and I simply could not give up my EU citizenship.


    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired14 View Post
    And btw Americans can learn to say and do say most foreign language surnames but we do so with mostly English pronunciation. We do the best we can. We don't learn to make sounds which we literally don't know how to make. I don't see why that is a problem.
    No you don't. Otherwise I wouldn't have started this thread. All the examples os celebrity names above can be easily pronounced by English speakers, and yet both the way the celebrity in question pronounce their own name, and the way other Americans pronounce it are mistaken. It's not mistakes due to inability to pronounce sounds, as I have explained again and again. Obviously if you can't understand what I write there is no point explaining it one more time, nor hope that you will understand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rethel View Post
    It has to be some villige dialect, becasue normal german speaker does
    not speak like that. It would be even silly. Even I can hear the difference...
    Not at all. I am talking about major dialects spoken by a good part of local people like Kölsch (Colognian dialect) and other Ripuarian dialects. I studied German in Berlin as an exchange student, so these dialects sound funny to me too. At the time my German was good enough to pass for a native as long as the conversation didn't involve too complicated vocabulary. My accent was native standard German. I have been many times to the Rhineland, including twice over the last year, and can't help but smile when locals say Reschnung instead of Rechnung in a restaurant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rethel View Post
    Ok, I get it, but if there is a rule, that stein is reading
    as stin, always, then I don't see a problem.
    Stine is not the same as stin. Rhyme with Fine and fin, Dine and din...


    So you would have to create such rule IN ENGLISH.
    Not just in English, for everyone. Or at least all Westerners as there is probably little point is asking Khoisan hunter-gatherers, Tibetan monks and Moluccan islanders to know how to pronounce European names.


    And here I am against. This is total corruption and denationalization.

    Adapt it does not mean translate of replace by local native variant.


    Terrible.
    So you have problem with correct spealling, but has no problem with
    total desctrucion of the original name by replaceing it by local variant.
    I said that for Americans, not Poles. Poles and other European have a very different attitude to ancestry and heritage. The logic is that if some Americans don't care at all about where their ancestors came from, can't even name their great-grand-parents, are ethnically mixed from all over Europe, and just care about making life easy in the present, then why shouldn't they adopt English surnames? After all, that's what African Americans did when they were freed from slavery. They didn't come up with native African names because they felt culturally uprooted and knew they had better adopt similar names to their former masters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tahir0010 View Post
    Yes I know people that have a hard time pronouncing their name especially the ğ just because depending where you come form people pronounce it differently in Turkey were we are from in the west we make it more like the ghayn from arabic would be the best way to explain it.
    That's not the same thing. You are talking about regional variants in pronunciation within Turkey. But as long as they know the standard Turkish pronunciation, that should be acceptable. I mean even Turks in Turkey don't know all the regional pronunciations, so why except those born in Germany to know them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by I1a3_Young View Post
    Americans largely don't care. Most of us couldn't even find Ukraine or Portugal on a map.
    Well, that's just pathetic. Most 8 years old could find these countries on a map here! And probably recognise the flags too. It's things like that that make European look down on Americans. Personally, I feel that a Westerner who can't find another Western country on a map is just a lower class, uneducated dimwit - what you Americans call rednecks, hillbillies or white trash, depending on the region. I hope you were talking about the average Joe and that it is not your case. I would assume that anybody who partakes in discussions about ancient migrations and modern haplogroup frequencies know at least their geography - American members included.

    The only real second language is Spanish for dealing with Latinos.
    I know that, but so what? You don't need to speak a language to know a handful of spelling rules. I don't speak Chinese or Turkish, but I know how to read (romanised) Chinese and Turkish names, because that's a basic skill in today's global society. I mean people from all over the world all the time, and not being able to pronounce their name is a source of embarrassment. From a practical point of view, how do you tell a taxi driver in Shanghai or Istanbul which street or hotel you are going to if you can't say it properly? One could show it on a piece of paper or on your phone, but it looks really bad, like someone who admits is has never learned to read... In academia especially, it would be extremely embarrassing to mention a historical figure, a fellow researcher, or a place name in a speech (lecture, conference, seminar, etc.) and not get the pronunciation right. Imagine a philosopher making a speech at an international symposium in Paris and mentioning an anecdote about Descartes studying at the University of Poitiers and he pronounces Descartes as "Dess-car-tess" instead of "Dè-carrt" and says "Poy-tiers" instead of "Pwa-tiay". They can say goodbye to their career. Nobody is going to take them seriously after that. It's fine if that person cannot pronounce the French guttural r (a physiological limitation), but it's not fine to pronounce the silent s, as it's a sign of poor education.


    I'm not exactly certain how families who don't anglicize their name manage to change the pronunciation of it. Maybe it's due to accents. If it happened over generations, would you expect the children to tell their elders it needs to be changed now?
    But it's so easy to change name in the US. Just fill out a form, send it and you're done. What takes time after is to change one's documents (bank account, social security, etc.).

    I can say that in Louisiana, some obviously french words/names are anglicized on a case by case basis. Herbert can be Her-burt or ay-bear (almost always ay-bear). I frequently guess incorrectly and I suppose it's just something they learn on a case by case basis.
    Herbert is not a common French name. It's actually more common in England and Wales. Anyway it would be pronounced ayr-bear in French, not ay-bear. Why drop the r?


    The only family groups that I know to keep a strong family identity with the old countries are the Scottish clans.
    Yes, but they have names that are considered part of the English-speaking world, even if they are Celtic in origin. That doesn't count as foreign names in an English-speaking country.

    Since getting into the genealogy hobby I have been asking people "where does that name come from" or "what does your last name mean." Almost nobody knows unless it's something as simple as Smith.
    Yes, but you care about genealogy and genetics, which isn't the case of most Americans...


    Example: A family named Fink who looks very German had no idea that it was a German name or that it meant Finch. Apparently it had never crossed their minds, and these aren't heathens but educated and well-kept people. I don't know how else to say that most Americans simply don't care. My own surname can be found in England, Scotland, and even Ireland but nobody in my family had any idea where our people came from. I think we had about six generations written down from an old-timer's family bible.
    Ok, but what does that have to do with the pronunciation of surnames?

    History knowledge in general is not much beyond "we sure kicked the Japs and Germans around in WW2." It's sad honestly. There are plenty of smart people but the main problem is they just don't care. Nevermind the ones who can barely read and drop out of school. As for learning spelling shifts of other languages - hahahahaha. Very few Americans could identify by sound any European language, except perhaps Spanish. Never expect this of Americans.
    I don't know why it's so funny. If the school curriculum added just one hour in the English language class to learn of to read foreign words and names, that would solve the problem for everyone. In one hour there is plenty of time to explain the few differences in spelling conventions between English and at least 10 major languages like French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and Japanese. Actually Hindi and Arabic are a bit superfluous as their romanisation is based on English and presents no particular difficulty to English speakers (other than sounds that don't exist in English, but that don't need to be taught).


    Maybe it had to do with the fact that everybody came together to form a new culture in a higher risk environment. It was a "what have you got to show for yourself" type attitude rather than leaning on some sort of family pride. The early Scots-Irish people, for example, moved from Scotland to Northern Ireland for a hundred years. Then they came to Virginia. Their kids moved to North Carolina. Their kids took advantage of land grants in Georgia or Tennessee. Their kids moved on to Texas or Arkansas. Their kids or grand kids might have gone to Detroit for a job in the automobile factories. After attending school, their kids could end up in almost any state. I never heard a lot of stories about the past from old timers growing up. People constantly on the move attach less meaning to places.

    The blue blooded families who have very solid family histories are more often the New England types who settled in Boston and stayed there for 13 generations. My family branch that goes back to Plymouth is very well documented going back to England in the 1500's.

    We do have a high enough population to produce plenty of folks that do care. It currently is a tiny percentage and I'm hoping the ethnicity test fad will increase awareness.
    Again, what does that have to do with pronunciation?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Why can't people set aside 5 minutes to learn to pronounce only their own surname? That is unbelievable. The time you spent replying to my posts you would have had time to remember spelling conventions in at least 5 languages!
    It certainly takes a lot longer than 5 minutes.



    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    It does happen, for example with North African immigrants in Europe, who still use Arabic given names after 3 generations in Europe. In contrast, people like people translate their given name even when studying for a few months in another European country, to 'go native' as much as possible.
    How have Middle Easterners who have lived in Europe for generations integrated?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Read what I wrote above.: The ultimate rule for Americans with foreign names should be: if you can't pronounce it, change it to an English name. It's better than to sound like a fool who can't pronounce his/her own name properly.
    The only people we sound like fools to are native speakers who makeup 0.0000001% of the population in America.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Did you know that in Japan any foreigners who applies to Japanese citizenship is required by law to choose a Japanese given name and surname? That's because Japanese language has very few vowels and consonants and it makes it very difficult for Japanese people to pronounce foreign names. As they don't like to butcher foreign pronunciation, as many sounds cannot be accurately rendered using Japanese script (Katakana in this case), they decided it would be better for everyone if naturalised citizens adopted Japanese names. I have permanent resident status in Japan and once considered naturalisation, but Japan does not allow dual citizenship and I simply could not give up my EU citizenship.
    That's interesting but it shouldn't be done in America. Yeah, sure maybe we should learn to say some names. We can do that name by name. An example of that is Mike Krzyzewski. We don't pronounce his name with English spelling rules because his family taught people how to pronounce it. But we don't need to take "take 5 minutes" to learn another language's spelling and pronouncation in order to know how to pronounce any Polish name other than Krzyzewski.

    And no people don't totally butch those celebrities' names. We pronounce them slightly incorrectly. It's not a big deal.

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    It is somehow strange, because I would think you'd learn your surname's pronunciation from your father. This is mainly a question of an interpretation of a foreign name within the pronunciation rules of one's native orthography. This is going to happen anyway.
    What I always find annoying is the pronunciation of Chinese names by westerners (e.g. pronouncing X as ks, while in China, this is a spelling for a certain type of sh), same fir "Beijing". Chinese doesn't have voiced stops; the spelling "b" denotes a pronunciation "p" (the spelling "p" denotes an aspirated "p" like in English).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired14 View Post
    It certainly takes a lot longer than 5 minutes.
    For one name (hence one language), not it doesn't. In the 5 minutes I included the time it take to type 'X language spelling' in Google, the time to read the relevant section. If I give you a summary of the letters that are read differently in English and the language in question, it takes much less than 5 minutes. Maybe 30 seconds to read and memorise it. If you have a poor memory and need to repeat 3 or 4 times before it is set forever in your memory, then one minute instead of 30 secs. Anyway 5 minutes was very generous.

    How have Middle Easterners who have lived in Europe for generations integrated?
    Apart from Turks (mostly in Germany) there aren't many. I am not sure what is the percentage of Turks who were given local given names, if that's what you ask.

    The only people we sound like fools to are native speakers who makeup 0.0000001% of the population in America.
    Why? Even Native Americans speak English now and many adopted English names.

    And no people don't totally butch those celebrities' names. We pronounce them slightly incorrectly. It's not a big deal.
    I live in a country with three official languages, and in a city where all street, park or other place names are translated in French and Dutch, and sometimes also in English. I am or was fluent in 6 languages and can read or understand fairly well in several more languages (if we include Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan, Corsican, etc. which are easy enough to read for someone who already knows French, Italian and Spanish). So I know quite a bit about language learning and pronunciations, and when I am telling you that Americans often butcher foreign names, I mean it. When American people ask me for directions trying to pronounce place names in French or Dutch here, it's often bad enough to require some imagination to guess what they mean, and sometimes there is no way to guess at all. Many don't take the trouble at all to check the spelling rules before going to a country (even if they are going to work there for years).

    As I mentioned before, last year I learned over 1000 words of Danish and practice my Danish pronunciation (one of the most difficult due to the high number of phonemes) just to prepare myself for a weekend in Copenhagen. All this while knowing that most Danish people can speak English (although often not very well). I may be a special case. Perhaps your average European will only learn basic greetings, number and directions before visiting another country. But I wanted to be able to read the signs, menus, listen a bit to the news on TV in Danish, and so on. That's part of the travel experience if you want to get the most out of it. Anyway I can't understand why anyone would live or work in a country and not try to learn the local language. When I hear that some Americans don't even care about knowing how to pronounce their own surname, it just baffles me as much as to know that some people still believe in creationism. It's really the same level of intellectual laziness and decrepitude. How can anybody have a mind so closed to knowledge and to the rest of the world? I might have a mild form of Asperger, but as a nation Americans seem far more autistic and self-centred than any Aspie ever will be.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Well, that's just pathetic. Most 8 years old could find these countries on a map here! And probably recognise the flags too. It's things like that that make European look down on Americans. Personally, I feel that a Westerner who can't find another Western country on a map is just a lower class, uneducated dimwit - what you Americans call rednecks, hillbillies or white trash, depending on the region. I hope you were talking about the average Joe and that it is not your case. I would assume that anybody who partakes in discussions about ancient migrations and modern haplogroup frequencies know at least their geography - American members included.



    I know that, but so what? You don't need to speak a language to know a handful of spelling rules. I don't speak Chinese or Turkish, but I know how to read (romanised) Chinese and Turkish names, because that's a basic skill in today's global society. I mean people from all over the world all the time, and not being able to pronounce their name is a source of embarrassment. From a practical point of view, how do you tell a taxi driver in Shanghai or Istanbul which street or hotel you are going to if you can't say it properly? One could show it on a piece of paper or on your phone, but it looks really bad, like someone who admits is has never learned to read... In academia especially, it would be extremely embarrassing to mention a historical figure, a fellow researcher, or a place name in a speech (lecture, conference, seminar, etc.) and not get the pronunciation right. Imagine a philosopher making a speech at an international symposium in Paris and mentioning an anecdote about Descartes studying at the University of Poitiers and he pronounces Descartes as "Dess-car-tess" instead of "Dè-carrt" and says "Poy-tiers" instead of "Pwa-tiay". They can say goodbye to their career. Nobody is going to take them seriously after that. It's fine if that person cannot pronounce the French guttural r (a physiological limitation), but it's not fine to pronounce the silent s, as it's a sign of poor education.




    But it's so easy to change name in the US. Just fill out a form, send it and you're done. What takes time after is to change one's documents (bank account, social security, etc.).



    Herbert is not a common French name. It's actually more common in England and Wales. Anyway it would be pronounced ayr-bear in French, not ay-bear. Why drop the r?




    Yes, but they have names that are considered part of the English-speaking world, even if they are Celtic in origin. That doesn't count as foreign names in an English-speaking country.



    Yes, but you care about genealogy and genetics, which isn't the case of most Americans...




    Ok, but what does that have to do with the pronunciation of surnames?



    I don't know why it's so funny. If the school curriculum added just one hour in the English language class to learn of to read foreign words and names, that would solve the problem for everyone. In one hour there is plenty of time to explain the few differences in spelling conventions between English and at least 10 major languages like French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and Japanese. Actually Hindi and Arabic are a bit superfluous as their romanisation is based on English and presents no particular difficulty to English speakers (other than sounds that don't exist in English, but that don't need to be taught).




    Again, what does that have to do with pronunciation?
    My tangents were to illustrate the mentality and attitudes of Americans. The diversity here is large but I'm grouping us all together.

    Our public education system is tough because you have many low IQ people who treat school like prison and drop out as soon as possible to get on welfare benefits or turn to crime. Getting students to understand basic math and biology is a far higher priority than foreign language nuances.

    We don't deal with foreigners nearly as much as other nations. The people that do probably have better educations. Our more wealthy and intelligent have more resources to travel abroad and they still make us look bad.

    But, even our more intelligent people suffer from a lack of "caring" about the issue you raised about name pronunciations.

    I would love to observe you try to convince any American to change their surname because it's "inaccurate."

    There are tons of Herberts in south Louisiana and exactly zero say ayr-bear. Other common names are LeBlanc (le blaunk), LaFitte (la feet), Landrieu (lan droo), Chauvin (sho van), Breaux (bro), Arsenault (ars in oh), Benoit (Bin wah), Bordelon (board uh lawn), Doucet (doo chet, or doo set), Gautreaux (Go troh), Guillot (Gi ot, or Gi oh), Theriot (Terry oh). Yes I realize some of these are incorrect. Good luck convincing any of them to change it.

    I do care and I've always had an above average interest in history and geography. This site is amazing and I'm trying to absorb it all like a sponge. I had a very weak understanding of ancient European cultures. Before visiting here I had a vague recollection of words like "Hallstat" and "Urnfield." I wish my family and friends would match me in interest. I asked a buddy where his family came from and he shrugged and said probably England. In five minutes I used Ancestry.com to trace his father line to Scotland. He thought it was cool but I doubt he would have ever taken the initiative and done it himself.

    I'll sign up for your personal crusade to correct names and let you know how it works out.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by I1a3_Young View Post
    My tangents were to illustrate the mentality and attitudes of Americans. The diversity here is large but I'm grouping us all together.

    Our public education system is tough because you have many low IQ people who treat school like prison and drop out as soon as possible to get on welfare benefits or turn to crime. Getting students to understand basic math and biology is a far higher priority than foreign language nuances.

    We don't deal with foreigners nearly as much as other nations. The people that do probably have better educations. Our more wealthy and intelligent have more resources to travel abroad and they still make us look bad.

    But, even our more intelligent people suffer from a lack of "caring" about the issue you raised about name pronunciations.

    I would love to observe you try to convince any American to change their surname because it's "inaccurate."

    There are tons of Herberts in south Louisiana and exactly zero say ayr-bear. Other common names are LeBlanc (le blaunk), LaFitte (la feet), Landrieu (lan droo), Chauvin (sho van), Breaux (bro), Arsenault (ars in oh), Benoit (Bin wah), Bordelon (board uh lawn), Doucet (doo chet, or doo set), Gautreaux (Go troh), Guillot (Gi ot, or Gi oh), Theriot (Terry oh). Yes I realize some of these are incorrect. Good luck convincing any of them to change it.

    I do care and I've always had an above average interest in history and geography. This site is amazing and I'm trying to absorb it all like a sponge. I had a very weak understanding of ancient European cultures. Before visiting here I had a vague recollection of words like "Hallstat" and "Urnfield." I wish my family and friends would match me in interest. I asked a buddy where his family came from and he shrugged and said probably England. In five minutes I used Ancestry.com to trace his father line to Scotland. He thought it was cool but I doubt he would have ever taken the initiative and done it himself.

    I'll sign up for your personal crusade to correct names and let you know how it works out.
    You can't look like a fool to people because you don't pronounce a name the way it was pronounced originally when all of the 300 million compatriots to whom you're speaking pronounce it the same way you do. The only people who would know it's wrong and might think it's foolish are Europeans of the specific country from which the name originates. Most Americans have never been to Europe, and whether or not they have, the vast majority couldn't care less what Europeans think about how Americans pronounce names. I know it sounds arrogant, but that's the reality. The country is so large and was isolated for so long, and has been so distrustful of Europe and European entanglements, that this is the attitude that has developed.

    In fact, if you go around changing the pronunciation "back" to the original form, people are going to think you're weird, pretentious, and perhaps a bit un-American. Look at the ribbing that Stephen Colbert (Kol bayre, I think) gets for the way he pronounces his name. In a way, people are right: even his Irish ancestors from the 17-1800s didn't give it that "French" pronunciation.

    America has been a very welcoming country to immigrants, but the trade-off is that you have to let go of a lot of your heritage and become "American". Almost everybody except the late arriving Hispanics has been happy to do it. Italian-Americans, for example, third, fourth, and fifth generation almost all of them, let go of the Italian language (usually only dialect anyway) by the second or third generation because the children of the immigrants wanted so desperately to become "American". All that's left, really, is the food, and with enough intermarriage even that goes.

    This American pronunciation of words extends to things other than surnames as well, ie. food products. Where I live there are a lot of Italian Americans and so there are lots of Italian delis and groceries. Italian food is also very popular, so the people shopping in the Italian food markets, and working in the Italian food markets too, come from many different backgrounds. While I'm waiting to be served, I almost never hear the products named correctly: parmigiano becomes "parmesan", capocollo becomes "capicol" or "cappy", prosciutto is pronounced something like "proziute", mozzarella can become "mazz", but even when not shortened is not pronounced correctly. This is Italian-Americans as well as "others". It bothers me, but trust me...I'm the only one bothered. In fact, if I ask for capocollo piccante I usually get odd looks and have to say "hot cappy" or the servers don't know what to get.

    It's just the way it is, and nothing is going to change it.
    Last edited by Angela; 04-07-17 at 23:40.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    That's not the same thing. You are talking about regional variants in pronunciation within Turkey. But as long as they know the standard Turkish pronunciation, that should be acceptable. I mean even Turks in Turkey don't know all the regional pronunciations, so why except those born in Germany to know them?
    Yes of course, but even when it comes to e as I stated some people who do not speak Turkish do not pronounce it correctly with or without regional pronunciations same with people with ı in there name its pronounced more like kanı would be like ka-nuh. People who do not speak Turkish from Turkish background have trouble with this also if there name has ay, ıy, ey, üy, and etc. The ğ as I stated is different, but I have met Turkish who just pronounce it like g they say for example Doğan like doe, gahn. Even when they are speaking with Turkish people usually they will speak German, and as I stated be 4-6th generation turks who do not speak the language.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tahir0010 View Post
    Yes of course, but even when it comes to e as I stated some people who do not speak Turkish do not pronounce it correctly with or without regional pronunciations same with people with ı in there name its pronounced more like kanı would be like ka-nuh. People who do not speak Turkish from Turkish background have trouble with this also if there name has ay, ıy, ey, üy, and etc. The ğ as I stated is different, but I have met Turkish who just pronounce it like g they say for example Doğan like doe, gahn. Even when they are speaking with Turkish people usually they will speak German, and as I stated be 4-6th generation turks who do not speak the language.
    That's true. Now that you mention it, German is indeed special among European languages in not having a short /e/ sound (as in red or bed in English, or like a French or Italian è).

    I forgot to mention the Turkish undotted i (ı). It's a close back unrounded vowel, which is somewhere in between a German u (or English oo as in hook) and the e in bitte (or the a in about).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    You can't look like a fool to people because you don't pronounce a name the way it was pronounced originally when all of the 300 million compatriots to whom you're speaking pronounce it the same way you do. The only people who would know it's wrong and might think it's foolish are Europeans of the specific country from which the name originates. Most Americans have never been to Europe, and whether or not they have, the vast majority couldn't care less what Europeans think about how Americans pronounce names. I know it sounds arrogant, but that's the reality. The country is so large and was isolated for so long, and has been so distrustful of Europe and European entanglements, that this is the attitude that has developed.

    In fact, if you go around changing the pronunciation "back" to the original form, people are going to think you're weird, pretentious, and perhaps a bit un-American. Look at the ribbing that Stephen Colbert (Kol bayre, I think) gets for the way he pronounces his name. In a way, people are right: even his Irish ancestors from the 17-1800s didn't give it that "French" pronunciation.

    America has been a very welcoming country to immigrants, but the trade-off is that you have to let go of a lot of your heritage and become "American". Almost everybody except the late arriving Hispanics has been happy to do it. Italian-Americans, for example, third, fourth, and fifth generation almost all of them, let go of the Italian language (usually only dialect anyway) by the second or third generation because the children of the immigrants wanted so desperately to become "American". All that's left, really, is the food, and with enough intermarriage even that goes.

    This American pronunciation of words extends to things other than surnames as well, ie. food products. Where I live there are a lot of Italian Americans and so there are lots of Italian delis and groceries. Italian food is also very popular, so the people shopping in the Italian food markets, and working in the Italian food markets too, come from many different backgrounds. While I'm waiting to be served, I almost never hear the products named correctly: parmigiano becomes "parmesan", capocollo becomes "capicol" or "cappy", prosciutto is pronounced something like "proziute", mozzarella can become "mazz", but even when not shortened is not pronounced correctly. This is Italian-Americans as well as "others". It bothers me, but trust me...I'm the only one bothered. In fact, if I ask for capocollo piccante I usually get odd looks and have to say "hot cappy" or the servers don't know what to get.

    It's just the way it is, and nothing is going to change it.
    I've never in my life heard anyone say "mazz" instead of "mozzarella". Everyone who lives around me says "mozzarella" in full....but then again, most people who live around me are are at least 1/4 italian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    You can't look like a fool to people because you don't pronounce a name the way it was pronounced originally when all of the 300 million compatriots to whom you're speaking pronounce it the same way you do. The only people who would know it's wrong and might think it's foolish are Europeans of the specific country from which the name originates.
    But there is no consensus among Americans about how most foreign surnames should be pronounced. That's the whole point of the BBC article that made me start the thread. Many Americans pronounce the names of some celebrities in a very different way the the celebrities in question and their family pronounce it, and neither pronunciation is correct in the original language. Then they don't just look like fools in the eyes of Europeans of the specific country from which the name originated. Contrarily to Americans, Europeans always learn foreign languages at school, and in the younger generations many speak several languages fluently. Educated people from smaller countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries or Switzerland typically speak between 3 and 5 languages fluently. In Brussels it's hard to get even a basic, low-pay job (waiter, railway staff, policeman, shop assistant) if you aren't fluent at least in French, Dutch and English. The other day I had to call the police because someone was blocking my car, and while I was chit-chatting with the police officer I was surprised to find out that he could speak some Japanese too, just because he liked the country and decided to learn the language for fun. Of course he was also fluent in French, Dutch and English, and perhaps knew some Arabic as well, which is always useful in the law enforcement in Brussels.

    Americans claim that they don't need to learn other languages because everybody speaks English nowadays. That's not the point of learning languages. You learn a language to understand another country's culture and mindset, and to discover new ways of thinking you might not have suspected existed before learning that language (that's especially true for Japanese, in my experience). In fact, most of the British expats I know in Brussels (quite a few of them) can speak decent French, or at least make the effort to learn it by respect for the locals. There are also lots of American expats in Brussels, but I am still to meet one who could speak French. I just know one who is fluent in Spanish.

    Most Americans have never been to Europe, and whether or not they have, the vast majority couldn't care less what Europeans think about how Americans pronounce names. I know it sounds arrogant, but that's the reality. The country is so large and was isolated for so long, and has been so distrustful of Europe and European entanglements, that this is the attitude that has developed.
    What do you mean by 'isolated for so long'? It's never been sakoku Japan. There has always been a steady flow of immigrants (and more recently expats) to the US, so that Americans, at least in big cities, are constantly in contact with people from other countries. It's more obvious in places like New York or San Francisco than in Wichita, Kansas, but still.



    This American pronunciation of words extends to things other than surnames as well, ie. food products. Where I live there are a lot of Italian Americans and so there are lots of Italian delis and groceries. Italian food is also very popular, so the people shopping in the Italian food markets, and working in the Italian food markets too, come from many different backgrounds. While I'm waiting to be served, I almost never hear the products named correctly: parmigiano becomes "parmesan", capocollo becomes "capicol" or "cappy", prosciutto is pronounced something like "proziute", mozzarella can become "mazz", but even when not shortened is not pronounced correctly. This is Italian-Americans as well as "others". It bothers me, but trust me...I'm the only one bothered. In fact, if I ask for capocollo piccante I usually get odd looks and have to say "hot cappy" or the servers don't know what to get.

    It's just the way it is, and nothing is going to change it.
    That's one more reason why I wouldn't want to live in the US. It would be torture on a daily basis for me. I already got a foretaste by living half a year in Australia and visiting a few times the US. Australians are almost as closed to the rest of the world as Americans, but many younger Australians have at least the British adventurous spirit that takes them travelling around the world as backpackers - something that Americans very rarely do. It's common for Brits and other northern Europeans (esp. the Dutch and Scandinavians) to take a year off to travel around the world to broaden their horizons. I have done it too. When we come back home, there is a huge gap in maturity, open-mindedness and way to see the world between those that took a gap year to travel and those who didn't. When I was travelling around India, Southeast Asia and Australia, I met hundreds of Brits, hundreds of Dutch and many more Scandinavians, Germans, Swiss, French, etc. Yet I only met only two Americans in Australia and a handful in India and Thailand. I think that says it all. Americans seem to be afraid to travel even to other English-speaking countries.

  25. #50
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    I couldn't point to Europe on a map until high school.

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