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

  1. #51
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    Maciamo;513558]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.
    Maciamo, these things just don't matter to Americans. However you choose to pronounce your surname is fine with everybody else, although you might get teased if you go with what would be considered a "pretentious" choice. This laissez-faire attitude also extends to first names. People have taken not only to giving their children strange first names like Moon, but they also make up names, like Shayla or any other combination of pleasing sounds. I very much like the fact that certain given names have a certain history and connect you to people in the past, so I personally can't stand it, but there it is. It's the present that matters to Americans, the present and the future, not the past. Student of history that I am, I think one has to understand the past before moving forward, but there's something to be said for not being in thrall to it, to not being bound by what your parents did, by the expectations of what went before. There are always pluses and minuses to every cultural trait. This casualness extends to everything really. Now everyone is dressing like Americans to some extent, but when we first arrived my parents were shocked at the, to them, sloppy way that even highly educated Americans dressed. Ditto for the way such people were addressed and treated. It was indeed a new world.

    I think Walt Whitman is perhaps the most quintessentially "American" writer, and I think this particular poem sort of explains the American attitude:

    Song of Myself:
    "I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume,
    For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

    I loafe and invite my soul,
    I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

    My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
    Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
    I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
    Hoping to cease not till death.

    Creeds and schools in abeyance,
    Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
    I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
    Nature without check with original energy. ("Song of Myself," 1892 edition,"

    Individualism run amok perhaps.


    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.
    That's all very true, but I think one has to keep in mind that you can go 3,000 miles east to west here and still be in the same country. There was no need to learn another language, unlike in Europe where in some countries you can't go for more than a couple of hundred miles before encountering people who speak
    another language. So in some sense Europeans make a virtue of necessity.

    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.
    Yes, America got floods of new immigrants, but no one learned their languages or customs. People were expected to learn English, and quickly, if they wanted to get a job and not starve to death. The work was here, acceptance to some degree even for the first generation was here, but only if you shed your old identity to some degree, or at least kept it private, only in your own home or neighborhood.

    The reverse was not true. Before the advent of air travel, a tiny minority of Americans, only those from the upper classes, ever went to Europe. This was true even for the immigrants themselves. Italians had the highest rate of return of any immigrant group, but even they, if they returned to Europe, returned there because they couldn't adjust, and they stayed there.

    So, for 350 years, this was it. Plus, it's a psychological separation. There's a whole branch of American studies dedicated to this "American myth" of America as a new Eden which would spawn a new people, a people not bound by the norms of Europe. All countries have national myths; this is America's. It was to be a "Shining City on a Hill" too. I suppose it could all be wrapped up in the term "American Exceptionalism". In order to remain "exceptional", America had to remain as free as possible of European "corruption", corruption largely in the sense of tyranny, and European entanglements which would lead to it. I think a lot of Europeans underestimate the strong strain of isolationism which exists in America. It had to be pushed and prodded into World War I and II, and only the emergence of what America believed to be a threat to its way of life in the form of Communism led to a change. Now, I think it's re-asserting itself.

    This spills over into the attitude toward European languages as well. I don't think Europeans know or at least give sufficient importance to this distrust of Europe which is ingrained in American attitudes.

    America as the "new Eden":
    https://prezi.com/uxg4przcjpiu/ameri...merican-dream/

    The City Upon The Hill:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_upon_a_Hill

    American exceptionalism:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism

    One of the best analyses of America was written by a Frenchman: Alexis de Toqueville
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_in_America

    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.
    They're not afraid. A lot of them are just not interested. If they want adventure, there are deserts, mountains, ice sheets, whatever they want, right here.

    Certain countries suit certain types of people. It's just the way it is. Americans who go to Australia and New Zealand love it there, while England, despite the language being the same, not so much, although that's a generalization. There are always exceptions.

    To each their own.


    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

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    Angela is so much more eloquent than I :)

    As for adventurous spirits - we have plenty. There's no need to take backpacking trips elsewhere. We have some wide open spaces and rugged country. Some states have "everything" and there's no need to even cross a state line. California has great vineyards, warm beaches, cold beaches, great surfing, majestic mountains, clear lakes, giant redwood forests, and desert.

    Most people I know travel to Mexico or Caribbean islands for the beach if they leave the country. Florida has some amazing beaches though, from the pan handle down to the keys. It takes over 12 hours to drive it. Visiting Miami is almost like visiting another country with culture, language, and cuisine. Or you could head to Hawaii without the need of a passport or currency change. You can learn the native culture and experience their cuisine and language. It's got mountains, volcanoes, some of the best beaches in the world, great snorkeling, hiking, fishing, etc. You can see bird species unique to the world and see flowing lava at the same time. I could spend two weeks on Hawai'i (the big island) and not come close to doing all the activities that I'd like to do. The BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) on the Minnesota/Canada border is a great adventure. Spend a week or even a month in the remote lakes, lost to the world with the eagles, moose, and fish. Drive 20+ hours and hit the Louisiana swamps and experience the cajun culture. Eat some gumbo, et touffe, boudain, and party with some of the most fun-loving people in the world. The vast expanse of swamps/marshes in Louisiana are like being in another part of the world.

    New York, Seattle, Los Angeles - totally different experiences and all of them would make fun of my southern accent.

    Visiting Alaska is higher on my list than most places in the world. I want to see brown bears and fly fish for salmon during the run.

    If not headed to beaches, I'd say most Americans traveling for leisure would choose standard Europe trips to the most popular west Euro nations like the UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.

    Most people I know who went to Asia did so for business purposes in China or Japan, unless they are of Asian heritage. Almost nobody I know has been to India - there's not much appeal here but it may be different for Brits as it used to be part of their empire.

    I can count seven people who have gone on African safari.

    You know, one factor may be that most Americans only get two weeks of vacation per year. We have less time to take large trips. Combine less time with adequate activities here - and here we are. No foreign language or passport required.

    I'm looking at only a few big trips remaining in my life. Alaska and Brazil will be two. Italy will be another, although I've been there. The last will be hard. Right now I'm thinking a two week trip around the British isles. I'd love to go to Greece, Germany, Norway, Iceland, Spain, France again, and Switzerland. I'd love to see Poland, Russia, and Japan but I won't get the chance. Same for Australia.

    Then again, I could stay in the US and use the cost savings to get a full Y sequence :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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
    So they should be pressed to know that by US national culture.

    are ethnically mixed from all over Europe,
    Family is not a race so cannot be mixed. So as such they can remember
    where they are coming from (so, if do not know how to pronouce, they
    would know where to find the information how to do this or how should
    be written correctly in original form if is used corupt orthographic version).
    It is really not to hard to know: "I am from Germany". Learning at home
    how to correctly pronouce one word is also not so hard, especially, that
    should learn the whole language. One word is nothing, so if someone
    cannot, then should be ashamed.

    BUT not changing it - it is much greater shame.

    and just care about making life easy in the present, then why shouldn't they adopt English surnames?
    Because they allready have their own. Their family is not their own,
    but also their great-grands and greeeaaat-sons. Changing the name
    is broking the minimum historical information which can be passed to
    a person. Just becasue a majority of people are idiots, it doesn;t mean,
    that their idiocy must be followed by all or made easier for them.

    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.
    Totaly sensless argument.

    I don;t think, that enslaved illiterate negors from XIXth century
    should be an apropriate example for modern educated mostly
    not black american society. Quite opposite.

    Btw, majority of negros had no surnames at all, secondly, they did
    not speak in any african language at 1865, and if they by some
    miracle had some inheritable name, ofently, they probably didnt
    know it at 1865.

    By the names of owners they were called during slavery.

    Of course they could do better by creation new names, distinguishing them,
    but what you can do - it was their choice. Majority of modern negros probably
    dont even know their proper families, so in their case it is meaningless. They
    should create names from the begining anyway, becasue there is no way to
    find their roots, often even in early XXth century.
    Last edited by Rethel; 07-07-17 at 21:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by I1a3_Young View Post
    Angela is so much more eloquent than I :)

    As for adventurous spirits - we have plenty. There's no need to take backpacking trips elsewhere. We have some wide open spaces and rugged country. Some states have "everything" and there's no need to even cross a state line. California has great vineyards, warm beaches, cold beaches, great surfing, majestic mountains, clear lakes, giant redwood forests, and desert.

    Most people I know travel to Mexico or Caribbean islands for the beach if they leave the country. Florida has some amazing beaches though, from the pan handle down to the keys. It takes over 12 hours to drive it. Visiting Miami is almost like visiting another country with culture, language, and cuisine. Or you could head to Hawaii without the need of a passport or currency change. You can learn the native culture and experience their cuisine and language. It's got mountains, volcanoes, some of the best beaches in the world, great snorkeling, hiking, fishing, etc. You can see bird species unique to the world and see flowing lava at the same time. I could spend two weeks on Hawai'i (the big island) and not come close to doing all the activities that I'd like to do. The BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) on the Minnesota/Canada border is a great adventure. Spend a week or even a month in the remote lakes, lost to the world with the eagles, moose, and fish. Drive 20+ hours and hit the Louisiana swamps and experience the cajun culture. Eat some gumbo, et touffe, boudain, and party with some of the most fun-loving people in the world. The vast expanse of swamps/marshes in Louisiana are like being in another part of the world.

    New York, Seattle, Los Angeles - totally different experiences and all of them would make fun of my southern accent.

    Visiting Alaska is higher on my list than most places in the world. I want to see brown bears and fly fish for salmon during the run.

    If not headed to beaches, I'd say most Americans traveling for leisure would choose standard Europe trips to the most popular west Euro nations like the UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.

    Most people I know who went to Asia did so for business purposes in China or Japan, unless they are of Asian heritage. Almost nobody I know has been to India - there's not much appeal here but it may be different for Brits as it used to be part of their empire.

    I can count seven people who have gone on African safari.

    You know, one factor may be that most Americans only get two weeks of vacation per year. We have less time to take large trips. Combine less time with adequate activities here - and here we are. No foreign language or passport required.

    I'm looking at only a few big trips remaining in my life. Alaska and Brazil will be two. Italy will be another, although I've been there. The last will be hard. Right now I'm thinking a two week trip around the British isles. I'd love to go to Greece, Germany, Norway, Iceland, Spain, France again, and Switzerland. I'd love to see Poland, Russia, and Japan but I won't get the chance. Same for Australia.

    Then again, I could stay in the US and use the cost savings to get a full Y sequence :P
    You're too kind. I thought your posts were quite eloquent, and perceptive as well.

    Yes, there's only so much time and money, although they aren't always the determining factor. In a community of quite well off people, I only know two couples who went on safari in Africa, and none who've ever been to India. A few have gone to Hong Kong and then into the interior or Japan, but that's usually related to business.

    I might as well be honest and say I have no desire to go to any of those places. Partly it's because I don't react well to the tropics or places where there is a big possibility that the food isn't clean. Heck, I got impetigo from sand fleas when I was on Sanibel Island in Florida! Now I make sure to stay away from places that say there is minimal spraying for mosquitoes. So, that also applies to certain Caribbean resorts where they don't spray, like the Rock Resorts :)

    As for food borne illness, after three visits to Mexico, during which I got sick each and every time, even when they swore, as in Cancun, that they had their own water supply, and I used bottled water even to brush my teeth, that's off my list too.

    Part of it, though, is the abject poverty. I'll never go back to Acapulco or even Caribbean Islands like St. Maartens, for example. How people can enjoy their drinks and big meals and luxurious accommodations when five minutes from your doorstep there are people living on the streets, mothers begging for food money for their babies is beyond me. There's also the total filth in some of these places. Even pictures of places like Bombay make me queasy. It's absolutely not for me, not unless I were going there to help.

    Other than Europe, where there are also countries I'm not very interested in visiting, the only place I'd really like to go is the Near East and North Africa, but given the current situation I don't know when that will happen. I'd brave the other "dangers" for that. It might be nice to go to Brazil and Argentina, too, and visit relatives, but I'm afraid I'd be disappointed.

    As for "adventure" trips, there's plenty of that here. I love the southwest, for example. On my last trip there I went white water rafting on the Colorado. It was great! I love camping too, and there's wonderful camping in upstate New York and New England. I'm always the only camper who brings along an espresso pot. :)

    Oh, I do love Miami. I like so much about Cuban culture, including the Cubans themselves. It's indeed another world. I meet more actual Europeans there than I do in New York. It's very popular with them, both for vacations and to buy property.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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).
    This is a problem in english, that they do not know how to read at all.
    In polish, if you do not know the language, you just read the name as
    it is written, and everybody know what is going on. About your spelling
    rules which you was takling a bit earlier about, I cannot agree outdside
    of France. Rarly anybody know French. If you would say to me "Dekart"
    I would have no idea who you are talking about. But there are of course
    exaptions. Such Gaugiun is commonly pronouce gogę. EVERYBODY knows
    this. Once I heard the guy who probably wanted to follow your rule about
    learning correct pronouciation, and when he read (publicly!) that name he
    pronouced it as... Żążin!!! It was neither in orthorgafic polish, neither in
    French. I guess he read about rules of reading and got to the conclusion,
    that it would be correct form. Everybody took him for an idiot. So, as you
    see, better do not try to sound as original, becasue it can be a total mistake.
    Better is to read as it is written - then everybody will understand, that you
    do not know the language, than pretend to know, and become an idiot.

    But english speakiers are total mess.
    For example, almost every time they are trying to pronouce surname of
    our prime minister, they do it wrong on thousand of different possibilities.

    It is really so hard to say Shiiidlo or Shidwo (the closest variants). No, they
    have to make a mess like Saydelou, Żydlo (like a Jew :-D ) Zedluu aso...
    Theirs wrongdoing is based on unability to read at all.

    So, insted of learning pronouciation in 100 languages, they should simply
    learn how to read in their own LATIN alphabet. It would be much easier
    and much better, with much efficacious effect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    you might get teased if you go with what would be considered a "pretentious" choice.
    So better is to be not undestand, than be "pretentious"?

    What is the benefit of not being pretencious if
    people have no idea who are you talking about?

    What is the benefit, if you cannot find a person, who is
    mentioned by lecturer in his speech, becasue you cannot
    write it properly? Even google is useless, the more a book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rethel View Post
    So better is to be not undestand, than be "pretentious"?

    What is the benefit of not being pretencious if
    people have no idea who are you talking about?

    What is the benefit, if you cannot find a person, who is
    mentioned by lecturer in his speech, becasue you cannot
    write it properly? Even google is useless, the more a book.
    I'll try it again. Most Americans don't look up how their surnames are pronounced in the presumed nation of origin. (They might not even know what that nation is...some "Millers", for example, don't know their surname was originally "Mueller" and German.) They don't care. Even if they look it up, they don't change the pronunciation. They go on pronouncing it the way their parents did, which is often the way that Americans would be likely to pronounce it using English phonetic schemes, although not always. In some areas, the pronunciation is rather idiosyncratic.

    There is no misunderstanding going on. No one else here is likely to know you might be pronouncing your name "incorrectly". Again, the vast majority of the 300 million American people doesn't give a damn how you pronounce your surname except if they find it unpronounceable, in which case they'll mangle it or change it, or, perhaps, in cases like Stephen Colbert's where instead of pronouncing it Kol-burt, which would be the usual "American" pronunciation, he pronounces it Kol-beyre, a French pronunciation, they might indeed think it's pretentious, having been chosen by him when all his ancestors, including the ones in Ireland, pronounced it in the "English" way. "I" actually think it's pretentious, and very in keeping with his whole damn personality. Much more common is a famous, very wealthy American family surnamed DuPont. I assure you they and everyone else pronounces the name with a hard "English" t, not by French rules.

    The only people, generally, who would know how it "should" be pronounced are Europeans from that country or who speak that language, and the vast majority of Americans have no interest in their opinion of the matter, even if they travel to Europe, which the vast majority of them do not.

    I say this as someone who has seen this play out first hand. Half of my husband's family pronounce the surname more or less correctly, and half give it a much more "Americanized" pronunciation. There have been times I've wished his family did pronounce it in an easier way for Americans. You can't imagine how many times a day I have to slowly spell it over and over again to people. None of them spell it correctly, which they didn't even know. The way it was spelled at Ellis Island is the way it's spelled today. In fact, they didn't even know their great-grandfather's given name, the one who immigrated from Italy. The agent at Ellis Island had put down "Larry", and that's what he became to everyone, so they thought Lorenzo was his given name and put that down on his death certificate. For place of birth they put Reggio Calabria. That's a whole province. There was no birth certificate because you didn't have to bring it with you in those days at the very beginning of the 20th century. So you can see why, when one member of the family went to Calabria in the 60's he could find no trace of a "Lorenzo" by that surname in the city of Reggio Calabria. It didn't occur to him it might have meant the province, not the city. I finally found him but mainly because I didn't assume Lorenzo was actually his name; it was in truth Ilario, a saint's name from Calabria.

    There's almost no way to change things around at this point. It would call your whole legal identity into question. Even if you just went for a name change, you'd have to go through endless paperwork to change your SS number, driver's license, insurance plans, you name it. If you did attempt it, it would take an incredible amount of time and effort, and even money.


    The real lack of understanding is on the part of Europeans who just can't seem to come to grips with the fact that even in the first, but certainly by the second generation, people here identify as Americans. They don't care about a lot of things that matter a great deal to Europeans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    There is no misunderstanding going on.
    How not?
    If you hear Kol-beyre how will you write it, if you only hear it?
    There is no way you can know, that there is 't', and some other words can
    be pronouced similarly. I did not say about written surnames, but about heard
    ones. If you are on the lecture, you do nor SEE the surname, and if people are
    pronoucing it, as they want, then there is no way you can, who is talking about
    whom. Ways of writing this what someone is saying are too many...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rethel View Post
    How not?
    If you hear Kol-beyre how will you write it, if you only hear it?
    There is no way you can know, that there is 't', and some other words can
    be pronouced similarly. I did not say about written surnames, but about heard
    ones. If you are on the lecture, you do nor SEE the surname, and if people are
    pronoucing it, as they want, then there is no way you can, who is talking about
    whom. Ways of writing this what someone is saying are too many...
    Are you being deliberately obtuse? The vast majority of Colberts in America pronounce it Kol-burt, which coincides with American pronunciation rules for Colbert. It is Stephen Colbert who pronounces it strangely, from American rules. I'm sure that initially he had to spell it for people.

    That said, if an employer or store personnel etc. look at your paper work for example (driver's license, credit card), unless it's a very "English" name, they will usually ask you politely how you pronounce your name, so they can address you in the proper way, or you may and usually do correct them. That's no guarantee they'll get it right, but if you follow general "American" phonetic rules in how you pronounce it yourself, it's easier for them and for you. If it's really long, they will probably need help spelling it.

    In terms of people spelling a name after hearing it pronounced, they'll usually ask you to spell it unless, again, it's a common English surname. It's just the way it is.

    I think Americans may have more tolerance for all of this partly because English itself is not strictly phonetic. There are a lot of idiosyncratic words that just have to be memorized as to both pronunciation and spelling, a legacy in part of the mingling of Anglo-Saxon and French-Latinate words. That's what gives foreigners the most difficulty as far as learning English is concerned.

    All of this may be one of the reasons that Americans so quickly resort to calling other people by their first names, although there are other more important ones. "American" first names were almost universally adopted by immigrants if the original name was very different or unusual in an English setting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Are you being deliberately obtuse? The vast majority of Colberts in America pronounce it Kol-burt,
    Firstly you must be familiar with the name. If you are not, you can;t know.
    And this was only an example. There are thousands of surnames which you
    do not know, and from hearing, you will not be able to know, what it is. The
    matter is more complicated, when people spell it differently. Total mess.

    Rather you are obtuse than me, becasue you cannot get a simple fact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rethel View Post
    Firstly you must be familiar with the name. If you are not, you can;t know.
    And this was only an example. There are thousands of surnames which you
    do not know, and from hearing, you will not be able to know, what it is. The
    matter is more complicated, when people spell it differently. Total mess.

    Rather you are obtuse than me, becasue you cannot get a simple fact.
    You really shouldn't speak about things about which you know nothing. Colbert is not at all a rare name in the U.S., especially not in areas where the Irish settled, as is the case with New York, or where there are a lot of descendants of the original English settlers, like the south and New England. I actually happen to know two families with that surname, and they certainly pronounce that "t".

    https://surnames.behindthename.com/name/colbert/top

    Here's another funny one: Weiner. A recently disgraced political personality carried that surname. He made a habit of sending nude photos of his "appendage" to women by cell phone. Some newsmen would pronounce it "weener", like an alternate word for hot dog, and, ironically, the male sexual organ, and others like "whiner", the word for a chronic babyish complainer. Either way it was good for some chuckles. :) It was probably too much fun to just ask him how he pronounced his name.

    Like I said, most Americans couldn't care less what Europeans think of this habit, and that includes me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    You really shouldn't speak about things about which you know nothing. Colbert is not at all a rare name in the U.S.,.
    You again fail to understand that it was
    an example, even if it was explain to you.

    Ok, I get - any talk with you has no sense, becasue you either do not
    understand, what it talking to you, or you do not want to understand.

    Live in your imaginary world. I am done talking with you. You claim to
    be the smartest, but you do not understand simple things. So pathetic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rethel View Post
    You again fail to understand that it was
    an example, even if it was explain to you.

    Ok, I get - any talk with you has no sense, becasue you either do not
    understand, what it talking to you, or you do not want to understand.

    Live in your imaginary world. I am done talking with you. You claim to
    be the smartest, but you do not understand simple things. So pathetic.
    Yup, the smartest people here never understand what you are talking about. Therefore the only conclusion you can make is that we are always wrong and you are always right. You must be some kind of genius, lol.

    Do us a favor, look today in the mirror, see your face, and remember. The face that looks like this never gets anything right.
    Come back when you understand this, and want to learn something this time.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Yup, the smartest people here never understand what you are talking about. Therefore the only conclusion you can make is that we are always wrong and you are always right. You must be some kind of genius, lol.
    So you must be a genius, who can write from hearing every surname he hears,
    no matter how and by whom spoke, and no matter what is his real provenance...

    Even if you would know all surnames in the world, you wouldn't be able to do that.
    If you cannot understand this - it only means, that something is wrong with you.
    It also makes senseless every english spelling problem or spelling contest, becasue
    if there is no problems with writing from hearng foreign or rarely used surnames,
    the more there should be no problems with writing regular english words...

    And now, let's Anglela writes from the hearing Dżeynowsayq properly.
    I doubt, if even you know, what it is...

    Do us a favor, look today in the mirror, see your face, and remember. The face that looks like this never gets anything right.
    Come back when you understand this, and want to learn something this time.
    Sadly, that you do not do that every day.
    Last edited by Rethel; 17-07-17 at 16:24.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    You really shouldn't speak about things about which you know nothing. Colbert is not at all a rare name in the U.S., especially not in areas where the Irish settled, as is the case with New York, or where there are a lot of descendants of the original English settlers, like the south and New England. I actually happen to know two families with that surname, and they certainly pronounce that "t".

    https://surnames.behindthename.com/name/colbert/top

    Here's another funny one: Weiner. A recently disgraced political personality carried that surname. He made a habit of sending nude photos of his "appendage" to women by cell phone. Some newsmen would pronounce it "weener", like an alternate word for hot dog, and, ironically, the male sexual organ, and others like "whiner", the word for a chronic babyish complainer. Either way it was good for some chuckles. :) It was probably too much fun to just ask him how he pronounced his name.

    Like I said, most Americans couldn't care less what Europeans think of this habit, and that includes me.
    Yeah, and to add to this, I thought Europe was a place in Germany from 6th up until ninth grade lol.

    I take pride in not knowing much, don't know why., but it's kinda cool.

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    Another good example of this is Charlize Theron. While most people think her name is pronounced "there-on", it's actually an Afrikaans surname and pronounced "Tron" with a very hard "r" sound, as in standard with the Afrikaans langauge.

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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?
    your second letter is an s sound in french, spanish and venetian languages ................except in venetian it is prounced as the sound th if it is the first letter of a word.


    the other issue is that many have dropped the symbols if they had in their surname ............like Café ...that symbol is a sound spacer, one needs to emphasis the f and not the e

    another issue is that americans alter surnames , example , my relative married a D'Amico ......the americans keep writing her surname as Damico .......2 different surnames
    có che un pòpoło no 'l defende pi ła só łéngua el xe prónto par èser s'ciavo

    when a people no longer dares to defend its language it is ripe for slavery.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Interesting discussion.

    And yes, as the Americans/those living in the Americas commented, Americans are disinterested in what came before. Their history. That isn’t all Americans but from what I’ve encountered the majority seems to fall into the past grandparents or great-grandparents of ancestry don’t know and couldn’t care. Same as how they are disinterested in Europe or anything that doesn’t directly associate with American culture. It is possibly a British thing (Brits & Americans are similar in their disinterest with foreign cultures) as you will encounter Brits who couldn’t give a dang about what their great-grandparents did or where they came from. However, as DNA tests were lauded in the USA & the UK economics in some areas it isn’t as “obvious” in the UK as it is in the USA.

    I can understand mispronouncing some foreign surnames. Slavic surnames, for example, can be a tongue twister if you are not used to it. A German surname doesn't necessarily mean it is pronounced one way all throughout Germany - dialect & accent will add a little "extra" to it.

    However, as Maciamo has said throughout, you don’t need to know the language to “understand” the surname itself. I don't speak German but I've never said fried as "fred".

    You can also research it (there are dozens of online translators), particularly if you know you will be encountering the person often enough.


    But then again Europeans mispronounce each other's surnames depending on where you are, their own background, and what dialect is spoken.



    The interesting part though is, since coming to the Americas, I’ve found Americans can’t pronounce certain English surnames properly.

    A close British friend is a prime example of this. A large number of Americans can’t get his surname right. Even though you will find it in America/Canada & despite the fact you’re supposed to pronounce it exactly how it is spelled. There are no tongue-twisting phonetic “tricks”* to his surname.



    *For fun I ran the name through google translate/different languages. It’s essentially pronounced the same regardless if in English, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Greek, etc. The only real difference is what consonants/vowels to empathize & Norwegian is the most “different” as the vowel pronunciation deviates. On the reverse, if I ran my surname through those same languages the entire name pronunciation would deviate.
    Last edited by SoloWarrior; 31-10-17 at 00:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SoloWarrior View Post
    Interesting discussion.

    And yes, as the Americans/those living in the Americas commented, Americans are disinterested in what came before. Their history. That isn’t all Americans but from what I’ve encountered the majority seems to fall into the past grandparents or great-grandparents of ancestry don’t know and couldn’t care.
    That's my experience as well. When I asked my grandfather what he knows, he said something like "I had a German grandparent, a Norweigan one, but I never really cared." If you ever ask someone from my generation they'll be able to tell you some ethnic background. British ancestry may have been forgotten by most Americans but anyone who has a great-great German grandparents knows about it.

    I think the same thing that happened to my great-grand parent's is currently happening to Hispanics in my generation. They're becoming more and more Americanized to the point that race and ethnicity doesn't matter to them at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired14 View Post
    That's my experience as well. When I asked my grandfather what he knows, he said something like "I had a German grandparent, a Norweigan one, but I never really cared." If you ever ask someone from my generation they'll be able to tell you some ethnic background. British ancestry may have been forgotten by most Americans but anyone who has a great-great German grandparents knows about it.
    Or Dutch, etc. I've had this discussion a few times with American colleagues.

    I think it's a two-folded thing. British ancestry is "cliche", a goes with the land sort of deal, as America was a mostly British colony. But being "German-American", "Italian-American", "Swiss-American", etc. is something "exotic" and/or distinctive. No offense to anyone but I have seen on forums Americans desperate to use DNA to "prove" claims of "Princess Pocahontas" in their family tree.

    But in some ways making those claims can, in a way, backfire.

    I did, after all, have someone tell me their maternal great-great-grandparents were Belgians & that they were "Belgian-American" with some concocted grandiose as if Belgians have never been in the US before. They didn't speak Belgian, had never been to Belgium, & knew almost nothing of the cultural habits [or food] of that ancestry. Hence, to me, they were just Americans.



    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired14 View Post
    I think the same thing that happened to my great-grand parent's is currently happening to Hispanics in my generation. They're becoming more and more Americanized to the point that race and ethnicity doesn't matter to them at all.
    It happens. Some people hang onto their culture & others give into what could be, in a way, seen as a sort of "(mainstream) peer pressure" & that isn't a habit isolated to the Americas alone.

    But, regarding the Americas, I saw it when visiting friends just outside of New Orleans. There were those who still had a "different" [a Cajun or Creole] feel to their mannerism and then there were others who so emulated American culture that you'd think you were anywhere but Louisiana.

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    I find myself somewhere in the middle of all this.

    I am pretty good in reading and spelling names correctly, as well as detecting the ethnic background behind the surname. How will I decide to pronounce it, though, depends. Usually I change pronounciations , depending on the language I speak at that point and the people I am talking too. It's kinda funny to use strong German or Austrian accent, even for a name, when I talk to some of my Greek bodies in Greek for example, or change completely voice colour etc when I address a Greek name in an English conversation.

    I can totally understand the Americans in this. It's not only that they don't care, it's also that the surname has been already Americanized, thus they are "allowed" to spell it the way they want.

    And btw it's not only an "American" thing. I never get mad on Austrians pronouncing my Greek surname according to their sounds; they simply can't make the "δ" or the "γ" sound. In some cases though it's really annoying to keep doing the same mistake over and over again: a guy here is named "Printezis", spelled "Prí - nde - zis", like the famous basketball player and it's very rarely that somebody addresses him correctly, even if he keeps correcting them. They will keep saying "Pri - nté - tsis" till they die

    Sent from my Robin using Tapatalk

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    I have one of those names that can be pronounced in many ways. And honestly, I am cool with whatever variation is comfortable to people. I have traveled a lot and obviously there are different tendencies how to pronounce my name. If I ever insisted on the original spelling, I would almost feel like a nationalist or something. It's just a name to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SoloWarrior View Post
    Americans are disinterested in what came before. Their history. That isn’t all Americans but from what I’ve encountered the majority seems to fall into the past grandparents or great-grandparents of ancestry don’t know and couldn’t care.
    I think that's definitely part of it. In my own family no one knew our ethnicity and that never struck me as weird until I went to college and met people who knew theirs and asked about mine.

    I vaguely recalled that my grandfather said his mother was Swedish and asked my mother about it, and she claimed not to have ever realized that side of the family was Swedish (to be fair she mostly spent her childhood interacting with her maternal relatives). Certainly even with that recent ancestry (he immigrated in 1889), no one would have thought to pronounce their name (starts with a W) other than the anglicized way that everyone in their rural Nebraska town pronounced it. And beyond that -- and I think this has as much to do with it as Americans not caring -- by the time my mother was growing up, and probably well before, it was just their surname, not some particular Swedish word with a particular correct pronunciation independent of how the family wanted to pronounce it. (It being Swedish and Swedish naming customs might be relevant in this specific case, as it appears my immigrant ancestor took the name upon coming to the US, and changing one's surname was historically not uncommon in Sweden.)

    I have a co-worker with an Italian name who is quite proud of and interested in his Italian heritage and KNOWS the family in the US pronounces it incorrectly (he has met some relatives in Italy even), and it's not about making it easier, it gets butchered (vs. his preferred way of saying it) all the time, but to him -- and this is an attitude I think is really common in the US -- how he grew up with it is the correct pronunciation of his own surname, it is how his family chose to pronounce it and since it is their name, they decide, period. But he would not say he has a right to change it, it would upset his family (meaning family in the US), who have a common way of saying the name.

    Apart from this, it is possible (and not uncommon) to have surnames where you don't know the origin. There are several in my own family if you go back to the 1700s. One example of a surname of unknown origin that I've worked on quite a bit is Guess. My family has always pronounced it like the English word (would be easier if it were not pronounced that way sometimes). Even if that is not how it was pronounced in the country of origin, we don't know the origin or if the spelling was changed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by msmajoribanks View Post
    how he grew up with it is the correct pronunciation of his own surname, it is how his family chose to pronounce it and since it is their name, they decide, period.
    There is no need to be a Grammer Nazi, so I agree you.

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