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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Why do Americans pronounce non-English words in such a pretentious way?

Everybody else in the world, including the Iraqis, puts the emphasis on the second syllable of "Baghdad". Not the Americans. They put it on the first. Where do they get that idea from?

I watched Midnight In Paris last night. This is about Americans in Paris and therefore it's full of similarly mangled versions of well-known foreign words. Parisians becomes "Pareezhuns". The painter Monet is "Moanay". The sculptor Rodin is "Row-Dan".  When the Sorbonne is first mentioned it's "Sorebone". The Boeuf Bourguignon is "Boeuf Berniown". The splendid old Peugeot which picks Owen Wilson up every night is a "Poojoe". This is not exclusively a problem with French words either. The well-known flat bread popular in Greece is "Peter Bread".

Obviously no nation is blameless in this regard but there's something about the way that many Americans - particularly sophisticated Americans, the kind you get in Woody Allen films - deliver these words that suggests that they feel that even the way the locals do it isn't sufficiently pretentious for them.