Thursday, January 26, 2006

Starsky and Hutch's Ford Is Another Matter

The site of the Winter Olympics is Turin, the Games' logos notwithstanding. English speakers should not use Torino unless they also refer to Rome as Roma, Spain as España and so on.

Are these Anglicized names a sign of how self-centered and imperialistic we Americans are? Not at all, unless you think the use of Estados Unidos proves that all Spanish speakers share those traits.

25 comments:

Nuclear Redaction said...

Just curious: Where do you stand on switching from Bombay/Calcutta/Madras to Mumbai/Kolkata/Chennai?

Giganti said...

Thank you, Bill.

Bill said...

On those ever-changing city names, that's an issue I like to duck. (Not sure if that's Peiping duck or Beijing duck.)

Sandy Lavendale said...

Does that mean I have to stop ordering a "cal-zone-ay" and start ordering a "cal-zone?" Half the people taking my order now look at me funny. Changing the way you suggest will cause the other half to look at me funny. Are copy editors the arbiters of which way the masses speak?

Bill said...

I generally stay out of the pronunciation realm -- you may want to check with Charles Harrington Elster. My gut reaction, though, is that "cal-zon-ay" would sound kind of affected from a non-Italian at a U.S. pizza joint.

That's quite a different issue, I think, from referring to Rome as "Roma" and the like.

Nuclear Redaction said...

I believe there are parts of Italy (Sicily, e.g.), or of Italian America, where it would be pronounced "cal-zone" anyway.

Back on topic: mum on Mumbai?

Bill said...

Bombay becomes Mumbai when ... enough people start calling it that. I'd have a better feel for whether this has occurred yet if I were still working on a universal copy desk.

All this is even less scientific than the usual unscientific stuff I deal with, so I have a certain distaste for it.

Aaron said...

Speaking of getting looked at funny: Does this mean I can stop ordering a Kwa-SOHWN-weesh when I'm slummin' at Burger King?

Seriously, can we get an *amen* for Mr. Elster? I think of him every time I hear anyone who's been a tourist in France pronounce it "Franz" (or "Fronds"), trying to sound as if they're fluent.

Thank you. I'll take my response (and my freedom fries) off the air.

Blork said...

Living here in a bilingual city (Montreal), this has always been a burning issue, at least with me.

Ideally, I'd like to see people use the same names that locals use, although I understand how impractical that is. However, there are so many exceptions that it is difficult to declare any hard and fast rules.

For example, Spaniars may call the US "Estados Unidos," but do they call New York "Nueva York?" I doubt it.

Some places have names that derive from words, like "United States" or "United Kingdom." But what about places that are named after names? Like Bombay/Mumbai? Why is "Bombay" an English word? Where does "Turin" exist in English except as the name of a city in Italy? Why does "Deutschland" become "Germany?" Look at a place like Nova Scotia, in Canada... "Nova Scotia" is not English, yet we don't call it "New Scotland." Yet in French it's "Nouvelle Ecosse."

It's all so mind boggling.

Mark said...

Like any rule, there are exceptions. Pardon me now while I order a Team USA Torino sweater from the Google ad that came with this page.

Carolyn Price said...

I would no sooner order the cal-zone that I would order the "broo-shedder". An Italian friend of mine nearly choked down the red and white checked tablecloth when he heard someone trying to order the bruschetta (brusketta) in an American-Italian restaurant.

Giganti said...

In reference to blork's post:

You raise an interesting point, about name-words being translated, such as 'new' or 'united.'

Isn't England referred to as Angleterre in French, and Germany as Allemagne? (Is 'Angleterre' generally used for UK, as well? I don't know.) These aren't merely translations of the words, but the same sort of linguistic transferrence as occurs in Anglicization of words, right?

Also, why is China called 'China' instead of 'Middle Kingdom'? I believe that every Western language uses some variation on China for general reference to that country.

I don't personally think there's anything wrong with it, and, in a way, I think it's somewhat pretentious, particularly in regard to accents, to try and imitate other languages.

This brings me to the other discussion going on here, about 'cal-zone' vs. 'cal-zo-nay.'

I agree completely with correct pronunciation, but who are we to start rolling r's and hamming it up? These accents and variations simply don't exist in the English language, so why are we trying to shove them in? It comes across, I believe, more as an attempt to seem 'cultured' or 'intelligent' than to provide any practical addition to the language.

And, although the two issues are really separate, I think this same sort of pretentiousness applies to using 'Torino' instead of 'Turin' in the primary example that began this conversation. The question arises, 'Who are we to call it "Turin," when the word exists nowhere but Italian?'

But I think the real question is, 'Who are we to press for "Torino," when the language at hand clearly has adopted "Turin," as its standard?' In the same token, I would not become insulted at 'Londres' for London, when speaking French.

It is interesting, though, as blork said, that some things creep through. Why 'Santiago' instead of 'Saint James'?

But, the point is, I guess, that I think we should let the language evolve as it does, and not force things out of a sense of imperialistic guilt.

Of course, if this conversation continues among grammarians and linguists, who knows if the evolution won't occur in that direction, anyway?

That was long-winded...

-cg

The Pedantic Prick said...

Yes, spanish-speakers DO say "Nueva York". Portuguese say "Nova York", and they pronounce it "Nova Yorkie". Spanish-speakers also say "Reino Unido" for United Kingdom and "Inglaterra" for England.

English-speakers call Bombay Bombay because we've always called it that. It comes from the portuguese "Bom Bahia"(good bay/harbor). This whole idea that it was originally called Mumbai is a scam perpetrated by Hindu religious nuts who want to honor their goddess, Mumbadevi. I plan to continue calling it Bombay for the rest of my pitiful little life, and I've heard a good percentage of the people who live there feel the same way.

LFelaco said...

In going on 13 years of living here, my husband has never once called the city of his birth "Turin," though I often have to resort to saying it just to get the befuddled look off the faces of geographically challenged Americans. When I visited Berlin shortly after the fall of the wall, my friends and I had trouble finding our way to the Brandenburg Gate because no one understood what we were saying. And a friend of my mom's once almost missed a train to Koln because she and her husband kept asking what track the train to "Cologne" was on. Rome was an empire before anyone ever spoke English...

Charles said...

My girlfriend says "cal-zone." Her former father-in-law is an ex-pizzaiolo from South Philadelphia, so I think "cal-zone" is a proper pronunciation.

LFelaco said...

It's actually a "cal-tsoan-ay" to an Italian, though most Italian-Americans have their roots in southern Italy, where they sort of swallow the final vowel on a lot of words, making it sound like they're saying "cal-tsoan."

And my husband watches the Italian news on Rai International every day and I can attest to the fact that Italian newscasters are perfectly capable of pronouncing New York (and Washington, D.C., for that matter, despite the fact that in Italian the letter "c" is pronounced "chi") exactly the same way we do. So I still say we should return the favor and say Torino.

Bill said...

Look: It's too late to rejigger the way English and French and Spanish and Italian and who knows how many other langages are inconsistent on this issue.

What I'm saying is that there is no reason to make "Torino" the ONE AND ONLY EXCEPTION to the way we've always done things just to match some marketing genius's logo design.

Is the logic of that so hard to understand?

LFelaco said...

Then again, maybe we should just call it a big sock, which is what the word calzone actually means...

LFelaco said...

I beg to differ on whether it's "too late" to "rejigger" the English language. Think how many racial, ethnic, and gender slurs have been successfully purged from the language just in our own lifetimes. Just because we were stupid in the past, we're required to keep on being stupid? I sure hope not...

Bill said...

See my original post: This is not an issue exclusive to English, not by a long shot. Once you mend our horrible racist ways, are you then going to go after those horrible bigoted anti-American Spanish and French speakers who say "Estados Unidos" and "Etats-Unis" and even "Californie"?

Bill said...

http://blogs.baltimoresun.com/about_language/2006/02/italian_english.html

See also this entry by John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun, who points out that wholesale reform would be essentially impossible. (And his reductio ad absurdum doesn't even get into the issue of wholly different alphabets. When people accuse me of being a big meanie to K.D. Lang and Bell Hooks, I have to ask: How dare you write "Jiang Zemin" instead of "stick figure, stick figure, scribble, stick figure"?)

LFelaco said...

John McIntyre: "On most days, English is a sufficient challenge for us."

Touché. Basta.

LFelaco said...

Speaking of "some marketing genius's logo design," my sister called during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics to confirm the name of Torino, because enough people had tried to tell her that "Turin" had changed its name to "Torino" for the Olympics that she was starting to doubt her own sanity. Probably the same people who try to "correct" me when I correctly pronounce bruschetta ... or maraschino ... or pistachi ...

Kuan Yin said...

Call me naive, but I use the dictionary for pronunciation tips. For calzone, the Merriam-Webster says "cal-zone" and "cal-zo-nay" are both valid, as is "cal-zo-nee." Yay for variety. Is this topic making anyone else hungry?

LFelaco said...

"Cal-zo-nee"?!? The horror, the horror...

I have to say, it'll be a relief when the Olympics are over and I don't have to keep hearing American announcers' abominable attempts at Italian pronounciation. "Pee-eh-monty" in particular is grating on my nerves...