Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 8, 2008

ONLY ELITISTS CARE ABOUT PRONUNCIATION.... Barack Obama pronounces "Pakistan" correctly, with a soft "a," just like a lot of people who know what they're talking about, including Gen. David Petraeus. Apparently, having completely run out of compelling policy arguments to make, some high-profile conservatives have decided to make this their latest campaign hobbyhorse.

The National Review's Mark Stein, for example, said that Obama prefers the "exotic pronunciation." He added, "[O]ne thing I like about Sarah Palin is the way she says 'Eye-raq'."

This came after the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez posted an email that argued, "[N]o one in flyover country says Pock-i-stahn. It's annoying."

The inanity of what the right decides to whine about never ceases to amaze me. That Obama's pronunciation is accurate is irrelevant. Mispronunciation apparently makes some conservatives feel better about themselves, and raises doubts about candidates who care to get this right. "Elites" care about country names; real Americans don't.

My friend Adam Serwer's take was spot-on:

To pronounce something correctly is to be "ostentatiously exotic," while pronouncing something incorrectly is raised to the level of something like a presidential qualification. Meanwhile, there are thousands of Americans of Pakistani descent who are themselves "ostentatiously exotic" by virtue of their names (and it would be elitist of them to expect anyone to pronounce them correctly) and ancestry.

Keep in mind that these are the same people who insist that a culture of ignorance that hold black people back while lauding Sarah Palin's vast ignorance of public policy as some kind of tremendous virtue. They demand merit from others and only mediocrity from themselves, because said mediocrity is touted as proof of authenticity.

The right's anti-intellectualism seems to be getting worse, doesn't it?

Steve Benen 4:51 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (254)

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Dude,

Mark Steyn (as much as it pains me to admit) is from Toronto...he KNOWS how to pronounce Pakistan!

In related news: I cannot begin to explain how tickled I was when I found out that Biden did not in fact flub, but that they actually are called Bosniaks.

Posted by: neilt on October 8, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

I remember when being educated used to be considered an aspiration of sort for folks who were conservative and I'm not that old. Now, you're considered a good conservative if you had your head up your ass at all levels of schooling.

Note from this semi edumakated eelightist to Sayrah Paylen: It's ee-Raq not Eye-Raq.

Posted by: Former Dan on October 8, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

And we should all learn to pronounce it "nukular" as Sarah taught us last week. AAARRRGGHHHH!! Like nails on a blackboard. It's like the apocryphal origin of Castilian Spanish, where the king had a lisp so all the courtiers had to speak with a lisp too.

Posted by: President LIndsay on October 8, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Don't talk like a fag. Slurpee?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on October 8, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

While I can't stand right-wing dumbassery like "Eye-rack" and "nuke-u-lar" I have to confess that I do find Obama's constant use of "Pagh-iss-tahn" somewhat irritating. "Pack-iss-tan" is how it's pronounced here in the States. Really, it is. Not just in the Red states, but everywhere, even in the true-blue liberal northeast. I'd never heard anyone pronounce it "Pagh-iss-tahn" until Obama did it in the first debate.

Posted by: Toast on October 8, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

This is amusing. A personal ancedote that kind of goes along these lines. I was arguing with a troll the other day on Salon - you may know of him as he goes by the name of Elephantman - and he cut off the arguement because, he said, I had spelled the word "judgement" incorrectly and called me an idiot for good measure. Now, he said the correct spelling was "judgment." I played along and posted the entry for the word from the Merriam-Webster site showing that both spellings were acceptable. He still wouldn't answer my questions or points. It was all very entertaining.

I guess when you're backed into a corner . . . . you'll take any escape route.

Posted by: Lori on October 8, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

This is a nonsensical issue.

I think they are raising this just to rile up the liberal bloggers.


Come to think of it the object of everything that they do is to rile up the liberal bloggers. Choice of Palin must have given them a Conorgasm.

Posted by: gregor on October 8, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Since the Packistanees have newkuler weapons of mass distruction. I think it's a good foreign policy intiative to pronounce the name correctly.

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 8, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I know that this is all too common, but could someone please explain to John McCain that there is no "r" in Washington. The man was at Annapolis and should be able handle it.

Posted by: R on October 8, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yeeeeaaaaahhhhh, boyyyyyeeeeee!

They got Obama on the ropes now! POCK-ee-stahn. Ooooo! How elitist! He ain't never gon' win now!

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 8, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

All I can say is that I'm glad McCain is left handed too.

in flyoverville, it's pronounceated "Pyack-e-stan"

Posted by: bdbd on October 8, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

In the heartland all vowels are schwa.

Posted by: Brojo on October 8, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Yuh meen it ain't veetnam?

Damn pinkos.

Posted by: LJR on October 8, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget Sarah Palin's channeling George Bush!

"Nukuler!"

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on October 8, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama were a real American, he'd pronounce his own name "Barry O'Bama" (to rhyme with "Alabama").

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on October 8, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Then shouldn't they pronounce Hussein wrong when they use Obama's middle name? You know, like "Huh-seen" or something like that? Or does pronunciation suddenly count when you're trying to link someone to a notorious dictator?

Posted by: gradysu on October 8, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Isaac Asimov warned in the late 1970s of the trend towards anti-intellectualism, and, as with his predictions about personal computers, he was precient. This is a sort of reverse status symbol in which ignorance trumps knowledge.

This is obviously something Republicans have trumpeted during the Reagan era, as 1980-2008 will likely be referred to in history. When your dominant party of the era chooses leaders like Reagan, Quayle, GWB, and the poor intellect of the elder Cheney, the problem is evident. That their best intellect, GHWB, was largely considered a throwback to the Ford/Rockefeller style of Republican just makes the point even clearer. Republicans of this era preferred stupid leadership, and the results are obvious.

It's fitting that their reign of error will end with a Presidential ticket consisting of McCain -- another GWB in terms of intellect -- and Palin.

Fortunately we see the narratives of the last 28 years already changing. In last night's debate the two candidates were trying to top each other in terms of who would expand government regulation of the finance industry, and who would be more of a diplomat and less of a war monger -- something that we could not have imagined even 2 years ago. As these narratives continue to change it would behoove the Democrats to focus on re-establishing the importance of ability, knowledge, intelligence, and teamwork in choosing our leaders.

Posted by: Anonny on October 8, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

My personal pet peeve is when people pronounce the word "err" as if it rhymes with what we breathe, rather than an ancient city in what is now southern Iraq. Maybe Obama could work that word into an answer in the last debate and watch the right wing pundits' heads explode with delight over his mistake. . .

Posted by: Michigoose on October 8, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Re Lori at 5.02pm:
"and he cut off the arguement because, he said, I had spelled the word "judgement" incorrectly"

Ummm... where I come from, 'arguement' is spelled 'argument.' Then again, where I come from, 'spelled' is spelt, well, 'spelt'.

Just sayin'...

Posted by: Hammers on October 8, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

It never ceases to amaze me. I think the Republican motto these days can be summed up as "Pride In Ignorance". But then that's what you get when your entire party falls at the feet of a C-student president for 8 years.

Posted by: Limbaugh's Diabetes on October 8, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

I live in a small, rural American town. Most people say Eye-talian and Eye-rac. We also prominently feature "this here" and lots of double negatives. Most high school teachers in this community blithely make the same grammatical and pronunciation errors. PALIN/mccain bumper stickers are sold in the local gas stations. To speak correctly would be labeled "elitist." A friend says the town's motto should be: "Ignorant and proud of it."

Posted by: EL on October 8, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Pack-iss-tan" is how it's pronounced here in the States. Really, it is. Not just in the Red states, but everywhere, even in the true-blue liberal northeast. I'd never heard anyone pronounce it "Pagh-iss-tahn" until Obama did it in the first debate.

That's kind of silly. Do you still insist on calling the capital of China "Peking" instead of "Beijing" because that's the way you grew up hearing it?

I don't think there's going to be some kind of quiz where Obama will show up on your doorstep and demand that you pronounce "Pakistan" correctly.

If it makes you feel better, given the ethnic makeup of Chicago, Obama probably has a fair number of constituents from Pakistan, so he may have had more practice in pronouncing it the way Pakistanis prefer to have it pronounced.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on October 8, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

former dan,
i thought it was more like 'uh-rock," but god forbid we should try to pronounce the names of the countries all them damn furriners come from like they do. we're americans, dammit.
and if ya want to fit in america, act american (and be a republican)!!! just ask piyush jindal.

Posted by: mel on October 8, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Stein, Lopez? them's sounds a little furren to me. What part of flyover country is them from?

Posted by: Jerry on October 8, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I like the new name going around for it.

"Aggressive ignorance."

Don't know who coined that term, but its a good one.

Wanna comback for anyone who brings this up in conversation?

"Look, I don't know if you are keeping up with current events but the era of I'm stupid and proud of it is over"

Shuts em down everytime

Posted by: SnarkyShark on October 8, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

"I guess when you're backed into a corner . . . . you'll take any escape route."

You misused the ellipsis: it's space dot space dot space dot space, unless you're ending a sentence.

"I guess when you're backed into a corner . . . you'll take any escape route."

FIFY

Posted by: on October 8, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

I am from India, been living in the US for about 10 years now. To those who, like say Toast say that the pronunciation in the US should rule, I can tell one thing.

Back there, they do hear these things, and while they don't get offended when their country's name is mispronounced, they do feel positive about an American who does it right. And that sort of positive feeling is good thing in international relations, don't you think?

Posted by: Ramki on October 8, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

The right's anti-intellectualism seems to be getting worse, doesn't it?

Like Obama said, they're proud of their ignorance.

Posted by: Gregory on October 8, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hey GHANDI what do you mean?

Posted by: gregor on October 8, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

These asshats can't (actually won't) identify the Democratic Party correctly, so why pay attention to them?
When you hear "the Democrat party" just say "Wow, what an ignorant sack of excrement you are" and walk away.

Posted by: BuzzMon on October 8, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Biden flubbed too when he said Bosniaks (actually, the correct spelling is Bosniac but heck, it's still pronounced correctly). Let the Republicans be the party of ignorance....

Posted by: whichwitch on October 8, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Nu-cu-ler, Marge.

It's pronounced nu-cu-lar.

Posted by: Homer Simpson on October 8, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

I heard somewhere that "Iraq" starts with a funky consonant anyway.

Posted by: John on October 8, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

And remember, it's "pro-nounce-iation."

Posted by: RollaMO on October 8, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Stein, Lopez? them's sounds a little furren to me. What part of flyover country is them from?
Posted by: Jerry

Yup. Looks like we got us a Canuk Jew-boy and a wetback tryin' to edjumacate us about 'merican pronowceeashun.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 8, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing stuff from that Mark Steyn. By the way, I'm pronouncing that in the non elitist vernacular: "stain". Mark Stain.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on October 8, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Pol Pot figured out what to do with all these "intellectuals" a long time ago. How long before they start taking cues from his playbook?
(ahem)

Posted by: jeffreyleonard on October 8, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Even racist British skinheads go out to bash up "Pakis" with a short a.

Posted by: James Wimberley on October 8, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Pack-iss-tan" is how it's pronounced here in the States. Really, it is. Not just in the Red states, but everywhere, even in the true-blue liberal northeast. I'd never heard anyone pronounce it "Pagh-iss-tahn" until Obama did it in the first debate.

I don't know where in the true blue liberal northeast you went to school, but my teachers and professors forced correct pronounciation and good diction. They understood that if a person has bad diction, they sound like a moron - just like those Republican halfwits we keep seeing on Fox.

Posted by: Keori on October 8, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

I like Jon Stewart's take on 'Elite': He wants to apply the Republican's logic to our Navy Seals. Let's hire idiots to enlist in our commando forces.

I'd take it a step further. Let's only hire idiots to run NASA, to run the Secret Service, to teach at our top Universities. I mean, if we're going to throw the best of our Society's people under the bus, let's get rid of all of them, right? Isn't that where this logic leads?

Wait...getting rid of the Elite....where have I heard that before...that's right Stalin and his purge of the elite in the '20s and '30s.

Red States are becoming more and more "Red" ironically.

Posted by: JWK on October 8, 2008 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Add this to the list:

Why does evengelical Sarah Palin keep using "Joe Six Pack" as a way to refer to the average guy in America? Aren't evangelicals against liquor? They don't drink. She uses a term she knows nothing about. Not the first time.

Drinking a six pack is a lot of booze, not a social drinker. Is she appealing to the low brow, abusive, wife-beater type? After hearing what her crowds yells out, the oh-so-subtle "kill him", "treason" and "terrorist, I think she is.

She could never get away with this latent racist stuff up North, she has to get in front of her "Alaska rape capital, alcoholic oil linesmen, titty bar goin'" base, otherwise know as NASCAR Nation.

She is such the interloper.

Posted by: LiberalsAreCool on October 8, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Mostly I side with correct pronunciation, but the boundaries are blurry. Why, for example, do we say "Beijing" but not "Paree"? And some words are so universally mispronounced that if you pronounce them correctly, you risk being assumed wrong or not understood at all. My current favorite is "oxymoron" ("ock-ZYM-or-en", at least according to some).

Posted by: mark on October 8, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Someone ought to start a movement to pronounce "Palin" with a short "a". This is how I guessed it was pronounced the first time I saw the name in print. If the rule is to pronounce the name just as some uninformed idiot thinks (like I was with Palin at first), this is the logical conclusion.

Posted by: Bill on October 8, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's the U-nighted States of AMURica.

Posted by: GOPer on October 8, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's like they take pride in being ignorant. Heard that somewhere.

Posted by: CMcC on October 8, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Daddy Bush pioneered strategic mispronunciation when he kept pronouncing "Saddam" to rhyme with "Adam".

Posted by: mark on October 8, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Darn Tootin it just ain't right to say the name of a farin country that a ways..all pretty and stuff.

I sez it's downright Anteye-American and it prolly means yur a terist.

Posted by: on October 8, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

NO ONE pronounces countries the way the residents of those countries pronounce them.

Not here, not anywhere else. People just pronounce them in a way that rolls most easily off their native tongue, whatever it is.

Do the Chinese call their country "China"?

Do the Germans call their country "Germany"?

Does anyone outside the Hispanic world pronounce "Nicaragua" with the glottal "r" and the long "i"?

To insist on "correct" pronunciation is simply an ostentation. It really IS elitist, kind turning up your pinky. And like any ostentation, it tends to be irritating.

Posted by: captcrisis on October 8, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

People pronounce things a certain way to make clear which group they identify with. When Bush or Palin say "nucular", they know full well that we "elitists" often complain about that, and they say it anyway. Likewise, the Fox people say "Democrat Party" just to piss us off. Pronouncing things correctly indicates a person who cares about facts, or about being right, and facts "have a well-known liberal bias".

Posted by: Joe Buck on October 8, 2008 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

How inconsequential in this category! I was delighted to see that Galloping Trollop commented on the Bush/Palin mispronunciation of the the word "NU CLE AR".That is in ex cu sa ble
in my view,however I haven't heard anything about that from anyone before now.

Posted by: sherimcb1 on October 8, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

OH NOOO! I CAN'T VOTE FOR OBAMA NOW! PFFT....

Posted by: Chad on October 8, 2008 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's just a matter of respect, and Obama happens to be a very respectful person. I mean, if you know the proper pronunciation of a country, why use the improper?... would we Americans appreciate people in foreign countries using the incorrect pronunciation of "America" if they were perfectly capable and knowing of the correct? It's just respect, and I think it's something that all of us ethnocentric Americans should learn to show a little more of to others!

Posted by: Liz on October 8, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Geez Golly! Now whatever will the country do with a candidate actually pronouncing Pakistan correctly?
Yes, Obama gets it right - and that is how it is pronounced in the rest of the world - outside of red neck USA.
Pathetic!
And how about Mooselini dropping the g? Is that not in her alphabet soup? What next after creationism? Change the english language too??!!

Posted by: Anothervoice on October 8, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

While I can't stand right-wing dumbassery like "Eye-rack" and "nuke-u-lar" I have to confess that I do find Obama's constant use of "Pagh-iss-tahn" somewhat irritating. "Pack-iss-tan" is how it's pronounced here in the States. Really, it is. Not just in the Red states, but everywhere, even in the true-blue liberal northeast. I'd never heard anyone pronounce it "Pagh-iss-tahn" until Obama did it in the first debate.
____

Seriously? You don't know anyone who says it correctly? I guess I must be sheltered by being a former professor and having many past students and colleagues from all over the world. I thought anyone living in a decent sized city would hear the proper pronunciation on a fairly regular basis. At any rate, saying things the wrong way is one of many things that irritate the rest of the world about America, so I'm looking forward to having a President with some clue about that fact.

Posted by: KF on October 8, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

During the debate McCain "slipped" and pronounced it the same way. The next few times, he slowly morphed his pronounciation back to the wrong way. I thought it was a pretty funny moment actually, because I think he didn't intend to pronounce it like Barack had been.

Posted by: Bryan on October 8, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain will stand up for real American pronunciation when he defeats Sinner Obama and replaces--or should that be secedes?--Present Bush.

Posted by: Ross Best on October 8, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

In my opinion, willfully mispronouncing these names is more than disrespectful, it is racist. People should be called by what THEY want to be called.

Posted by: Withfeeling on October 8, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Captcrisis,

How hard is it to pronounce "Pakistan" correctly? Not hard. I don't speak Urdu or Pashto or Dari or any dialect of Arabic, and I can manage it. If it's no skin off your ass to pronounce a proper noun correctly, do so. To deliberately not do so makes you look like an ignorant halfwit.

In case you don't speak Mandarin Chinese, the proper name for China is "Zhongguo." It means "middle kingdom/country." That's how many Korean and Japanese speakers refer to China, because those languages have a strong Sino influence. The word "China" comes from the Qin ("Chin") dynasty, which was the earliest dynasty ruler of a unified China. Ergo, people used Qin, the name of the ruling family, to describe the country. Silk Road traders picked up on the word and have been using it ever since.

If you're going to mock pronounciation and etymology best know the difference between the two. It's not ostentation to take two minutes and find out how to speak correctly, especially in a country that boasts immigrants of every ethnicity.

Posted by: Keori on October 8, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Why, for example, do we say "Beijing" but not 'Paree'?"

We don't. We say Beizhing and Beishing and Beizhshing.

Posted by: on October 8, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm from North Carolina. Born here. Raised here. Only ever briefly lived elsewhere in my 35 years. This is where NASCAR was born, and Jesse Helms was our senator for longer than I care to recall. I consider myself a southerner and even have a bit of an accent. I'm pretty sick and tired of people equating ignorance with being from the south. The most outwardly racist and ignorant people I've met have been from the north east. I've had dinner with New Yorkers who casually drop 'the n word' as if it's to be assumed that nobody at the table should take offense because none of us were black. Yes, there are backwoods, jackass homophobic racists in the south, but let's not pretend that people from other parts of the country are equally (and possibly even more) racist than people from the south. I have no ties to the War of Northern Aggression, have never flown a Confederate Flag on my house (we don't all live in mobile homes), don't shoot animals, and I've always voted democrat. I can pronounce words the way I pronounce words and so long as I'm understood by those I'm trying to communicate with, what's the problem? My mom still says EYEtalian and I think it's cute, so phuuuquew you if you don't like it.

Posted by: Johnny G on October 8, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

I remember Christianne Amanpour getting annoyed at people pronouncing Iraq as 'Eyeraq. It is pronounced 'Eeraq' and I totally agreed with he. It is only courteous to learn how to pronounce names properly.

Posted by: Sam on October 8, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe?

I'd rather be labeled "exotic" for pronouncing Pakistan "Pah-kih-stan" than be someone who always drops the "g" from every word ending with "-ing".

Know what I'm sayin', dog-gonnit!? [wink, wink]

Posted by: mykalimba on October 8, 2008 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand why someone is annoyed at the people in "flyover country" for their pronunciation of Pakistan. If you're already using the derogatory term "flyover country" for those folks, why would you expect them to pronounce Pakistan in your Officially Approved Manner? That's just stupid.

Posted by: josef on October 8, 2008 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Surely, it isn't a bad thing in terms of our relationship to the Pakistani people (if not completely appropriate) that the leader of our nation would be the first to take the 'brave' step of learning how to pronounce their country's name correctly.

Posted by: JTK on October 8, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Talk about whining. Check out FOX complaining that Newsweek is unfavorable to Palin because they didn't RETOUCH her face. I'm not kidding...
http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/index.php?cl=10091952

Posted by: Esther on October 8, 2008 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Exotic", "Not like us", "That One"...do you think the McCain camp and its McCaniacs are trying to say something about Mr Obama's heritage?

Posted by: Regular Joe on October 8, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of things: I say "PACK-iss-tan," with the short a (the a as it's pronounced in the word ASH).

As it happens, this vilified pronunciation is listed first in the usagist Merriam-Webster's Tenth; the second pronunciation given is PAH-kiss-tahn. In other words, both are correct, both are employed by American English speakers. The first is more common than the second.

Having said this, I recognize that the second version sounds cooler, especially for those wishing to sound less parochial and who may also prefer the (incorrect) di-VIS-ive (short a) to the correct di-VI-sive (long a) because di-VISS-ive sounds cooler.

With PACK-is-tan, Americans are simply following innate phonetical rules for such syllables. Without any diacritical help, Americans will default to pronounce PAK (istan) as PACK (istan), not POCK (istan).

About McCain's "Wa(r)shington," this is a dead giveaway that McNasty spent his formative years as a Washington insider. I went to high school with fourth-generation Washingtonians, who used this same pronunciation.

Posted by: paxr55 on October 8, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well, some of us in "fly-over" country DO pronounce Pakistan correctly-- those of us who have Pakistani American friends, co-workers & neighbors, and have heard their pronunciation cringe to hear it mangled.

Posted by: Soldier's Mom on October 8, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

It is relevant how people pronounce words. It makes them seem a bit more culturally sensitive, i.e. perhaps a bit less culturally arrogant... Like maybe they'd actually like to let the world know we are trying to understand them.

It's amazing how much time Americans spend speaking slowly and loudly to non-English speakers so they can understand us, or learn to "speak like us," and how we don't extend that same courtesy to others.

Posted by: richdividends on October 8, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Mel said:
"former dan,
i thought it was more like 'uh-rock," but god forbid we should try to pronounce the names of the countries all them damn furriners come from like they do."

Over the years, I've worked with many, many people from Iran, and count them as my friends. If I were going to try to describe how they pronounce the name of their country - and that of heir neighbor, Iraq - I'd say to pronounce the "Ir" the way you would pronounce it in the word "irrigation". Then either "rock" or "ron".

Ir-rock. Ir-ron. No variation across the number of Iranians that I've known.

(BTW: as a freshman in college, I lived next door to a pair of guys from Kenya. The first week we were there, I asked them if it was pronounced "Ken-ya" or "Keen-ya". One answered one, one answered the other, and then they proceeded to argue about it in Swahili for five minutes :-)

Posted by: Robert Earle on October 8, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK


My wife and I immigrated to Canada, 51 years ago
and I am being corrected on my pronouncing of
words correctly by Canadians and Americans. I
suppose that's the price one pays for having
a formal education and pronouncing word's
correctly.

Posted by: Ron Canada. on October 8, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, all BS aside, I think the way Obama pronounces Pakistan and Afghanistan is elitist and shows a worldly intellect which is as graceful and sweet as the falling snow.
Only the minds of the hateful and racist can find fault in this.

Posted by: g on October 8, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

The underlining message of Obama's correct pronunciations is not that he's elitist, but rather, that he's uppity. It's a carryover from slavery with which even some African Americans are still afflicted. If an African American speaks correct English, he's "trying to be white".

The current situation proves that ignorance knows no color. By its very nature, ignorance cannot be, or act like, anything except that which is ignorant. What makes this so criminal is that our children are learning from these lessons being taught by all of us mature- responsible-patriotic-God bless America voters. Somehow, it all seems to make the Rev. (God Damn) America Wright a great prophet; because surely, we aren't giving God any reason to BLESS America.

Posted by: SMAC25 on October 8, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Back to the comment from Ramki, "Back there, they do hear these things, and while they don't get offended when their country's name is mispronounced, they do feel positive about an American who does it right. And that sort of positive feeling is good thing in international relations, don't you think?"

He hit the nail on the head. Nothing "elitist" about showing respect I should think.

Posted by: Bea on October 8, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

People look at me funny when I talk about Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers. He and his brothers pronounced it "Chick-0", like everyone back then I suppose, because he liked chasing chicks, but almost everybody now pronounces it "Cheek-0". When I explain they act like I'm some sort of know it all, or . . . elitest.

Posted by: The (Groucho) Marxist on October 8, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

What drives me nuts is how Palin incorrectly and repeatedly says "nu-cu-lar," instead of 'nu-cle-ar,"just like Bush does. Why don't they ever get it straight?

Posted by: Karl on October 8, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

A retroactive "thank you" to Ramki @ 5:16 for making my point long before I did (@ 6:25) while simultaneously providing a very effective 'case in point':

Back there, they do hear these things, and while they don't get offended when their country's name is mispronounced, they do feel positive about an American who does it right. And that sort of positive feeling is good thing in international relations, don't you think?
Posted by: on October 8, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

This flap is truly ironic. Shortly after Bush was elected, he went to a conference in Sweden. Suddenly everyone had to pronounce the name of the city he went to Goat borg. The city is spelled Goteborg (with an umlaut over the o) and pronounced something like yoo-ta-bo-ee. But most Swedes speak English, and when doing so, call it Gothenburg.

Posted by: Danp on October 8, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yet how many of these right-wingers would get terribly upset if someone mispronounced their personal names or the name of their town or the name of their state wrong? Learning the correct pronunciation of names and then using them is to show respect, and it is just one of many reasons that the people of other countries esteem Barack Obama. There is the sense that a man courteous and intelligent enough to pay heed to little details will also be strong and confident enough to pay heed and understand issues of major importance. These people need to get over being threatened by anyone with more knowledge or a higher intellect, and start joining with those people to work for a better world.

Posted by: HedgeBaby on October 8, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Years ago, I worked with a woman from Iran. She found it irritating that Americans pronounced it "I ran" as opposed to "Ir-ahn". She was Iranian, so I figure she'd know how to pronounce her own country's name.

There's a certain type of American who revels in ignorance. God bless'em.

Posted by: Hoodwinked on October 8, 2008 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

If you want a real laugh, Conservapedia's article on Obama cites his pronunciation of "Pokiston" as proof positive that he's a secret Muslim.

Posted by: Tariq Moustapha on October 8, 2008 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

I have a friend from Pakistan. He pronounces it the same way Obama does. I'd say a person from Pakistan would know the correct pronunciation for his own country. Did anyone catch Sarah Palin saying "my kidses" during her "debate" with Biden? That's pretty bad grammer for a college educated person. The "Eye-Rack" thing has been bugging me for years. It's "Ear-rock."

Posted by: peacenik on October 8, 2008 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

This Republican affection for a lack of intellectual achievement is nothing new. Way back in 1970 Richard Nixon nominated to the Supreme Court an undistinguished and relatively unknown Florida judge, G. Harrold Carswell, and Democrats quickly attacked him as unqualified for the nation's highest legal position. Then Senator Roman Hruska from Nebraska roused himself to deliver a stirring, memorable defense of Carswell:

”Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.”

Needless to say, this was damning with mighty faint praise, and Carswell's name was eventually withdrawn.

Posted by: bluestatedon on October 8, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Ire-rack. Fits.

Posted by: Goldilocks on October 8, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oh for God's sake THE PRESIDENT SHOULD BE ELITIST!!! Why would we vote for your average "Joe Six-Pack" fresh off the barstool? Just because anybody *can* run for president doesn't mean anybody *should.*

I'm not voting for somebody to whom I can "relate" (that's right, I don't end my sentences with prepositions, either). The presidency should be something to which we elect the best of the best of the best. If anybody can do it, why did the current president screw up everything he touched?

The president should be better than me. And if he (or she) doesn't think s/he's better than me and can do a better job at running the frickin' country (that's what we're voting for, remember?) than me, why the hell should that person get my vote?

Posted by: Brendan D on October 8, 2008 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hope someone teaches Sarah Palin how to pronounce nuclear soon!

Posted by: Howard on October 8, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Hey GHANDI what do you mean?"

Actually, it's _Gandhi_.

Posted by: Melanie S on October 8, 2008 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

I remember back in the Reagan years when correctly pronouncing "Nicaragua" would get you characterized as the worst sort of traitorous pinko commie. The Republicans pretend to make a virtue of ordinariness while they screw ordinary people every time they get the chance.

Posted by: Dennis - SGMM on October 8, 2008 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

If military intelligence officers can take 5 seconds to ask me how to correctly pronounce the name of a foreign city or country, I don't think it's too much to ask that their future Commander in Chief do the same.

Posted by: Keori on October 8, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

As it happens, this vilified pronunciation is listed first in the usagist Merriam-Webster's Tenth; the second pronunciation given is PAH-kiss-tahn. In other words, both are correct, both are employed by American English speakers. The first is more common than the second.Posted by: paxr55

No.

Some English dictionaries claim that "kimona" is an acceptable variation on kimono. The hell it is! That's like still trying to pass off Peking as an acceptable variation of Beijing. Sure, if you're some stuck-in-the-imperialist-British-world of the 19th Century.

Next to redneck Americans, the Brits are notorious for purposefully mangling country and place names as a way of showing disrespect. They practically wrote the book on racist and demeaning names for anyone not British - niggers, wops, wogs, dago, krauts, etc.

Fucking up place or given name pronunciation if not a sign of ignorance is done to show disrespect or, at the very least, disregard.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 8, 2008 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Well golly, I think he should be sayin' Pak-is-Tan, like all the rest of us (wink). I mean, gee whiz, if he's such an elitist what will the Eye-Rayne-Eans think? It'll be like Eye-Rack all over again, maybe even havin' a nookyoolar war! Well, God Bless America (I read that on a Starbucks coffee cup)..wink wink.
What a stupid article. With all that's going on in this country right now, you clowns have nothing else to write about?

Posted by: Wild East on October 8, 2008 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

What a boneheaded idiotic article. He pronounce the name of the country correctly. Most Americans don't. It's like Obama said " it's as if they take pride in being ignorant".

Posted by: mike on October 8, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

To the trailer-court Nazis, armchair Crusaders, and all the other knuckle-draggers in this part of the world, it really doesn't matter how you pronounce Pakistan or Iraq or any of those faraway places. They have one word for all of them. It starts with "n".

Posted by: dr sardonicus on October 8, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Since when did being educated and pronouncing words the right way make someone "elitist"? The way Obama pronounces Pakistan is the CORRECT way. I didn't realize that there is a certain fashion to pronouncing foreign names/countries. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by: SuzyQ on October 8, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

The republican ticket in 2012: a guy named Cletus and an adorable puppy. Can't miss!

Posted by: El Bruce on October 8, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

The stupidity of the right wing knows no bounds. Only a moron would embrace the improper pronunciation of a word. Bush, Palin and the rest of the right wing idiots have dumbed down this country with "nuke-u-lar", "eye-rack" and "eye-ran".

Question for them: what purpose is served by pronouncing somethng incorrectly? Is it more American to be wrong?

I don't begrudge someone who says "Pack-istan", but to proudly condemn as "elite" someone who says it properly? Republicans are truly a lower life form.

Posted by: Leo on October 8, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

And when we are in a foreign country we should use local pronunciations
Mexico-Amereeka
Thailand - United or Merika
UK- Colonies

Since when is it high falutin to actually pronounce something correctly instead of the way the locals pronounce it? Brooks is right. Republicans are becoming a party of people who reject persons who have actually tried to educate themselves, read a few books and develop some new ides. This is not the party of Reagan who, in the words of Brooks, had an immense faith in the power of ideas.

So, is it A-men or Ah-men?

Posted by: Ignorant on October 8, 2008 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

"The right's anti-intellectualism seems to be getting worse, doesn't it?"

Yes, well, when the best you've got is a deranged and cranky old man who refers to his base voters as "my fellow prisoners" and a woman who could not find New Hampshire, much less Pakistan, on a map and believes in witches and that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth together I suppose that there's not much left

Posted by: colleen on October 8, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Right-wing anti-intellectualism isn't new, it's just now they have a spokesmodel to make it seem OK. No previous candidate celebrated the worst of our nation quite like Ms. Palin, but I think she's too stupid to know it.

Posted by: laura on October 8, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm from North Carolina. Born here. Raised here. Only ever briefly lived elsewhere in my 35 years. This is where NASCAR was born, and Jesse Helms was our senator for longer than I care to recall. I consider myself a southerner and even have a bit of an accent. I'm pretty sick and tired of people equating ignorance with being from the south. The most outwardly racist and ignorant people I've met have been from the north east. I've had dinner with New Yorkers who casually drop 'the n word' as if it's to be assumed that nobody at the table should take offense because none of us were black. Yes, there are backwoods, jackass homophobic racists in the south, but let's not pretend that people from other parts of the country are equally (and possibly even more) racist than people from the south. I have no ties to the War of Northern Aggression, have never flown a Confederate Flag on my house (we don't all live in mobile homes), don't shoot animals, and I've always voted democrat. I can pronounce words the way I pronounce words and so long as I'm understood by those I'm trying to communicate with, what's the problem? My mom still says EYEtalian and I think it's cute, so phuuuquew you if you don't like it."


I understand your irritation, but considering that your region is consistently red on the electoral map, I find myself lacking sympathy. I'm sorry. I'm afraid there might be a bit more ignorance festering there than in any other region of the country.

Regarding Obama's pronunciation: Some of his schooling years were spent in Indonesia. He might have learned correct pronunciation of Muslim countries there. And as Ramki said, it can only win us points internationally if we pronouce the names of other countries correctly.

Posted by: jsingh on October 8, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

And people of similar ilk can't say nuclear.

Posted by: baylowt on October 8, 2008 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Barack Obama pronounces Pakistan CORRECTLY! Just because Americans-at-large mispronounce nearly every word of the English language it is refreshing to hear someone who does not. Sarah Palin seems to be pleased with herself every time she speaks or might I say screeches. Just listen to her atrocious pronunciation(s). Her delight seems evident by that Chesher Cat grin she has pasted on her less than truthful lips. In my view it is a new low by the GOP to attempt to claw back into the race. Don't they realize it's too late?

Posted by: jeni on October 8, 2008 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Who cares how TEAM-UNSTABLE and UNABLE pronounce any country's name, or their leader's names...it's not like it's going to come up when they return to their jobs as Senator and Governor.

Revel in your ignorance, bask in your stupidity, and wallow in your BITTERNESS as Miss Runner Up, and Miss Congeniality.

Posted by: mark on October 8, 2008 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Earlier in this campaign, the whole country was loudly and clearly told how to pronounce NEVADA, and informed that anybody who didn't was showing disrespect to the state and would likely lose votes as a result. And it is not just ignorance but a certain kind of imperial arrogance (typical of the "Empire State") when New Yorkers, for example, profess not to know or care where South Dakota is, as if that is a proper way to treat a "backwater" or "flyover" like South Dakota.

The issue is not cosmopolitan sophistication and its enemies. The issue is simple courtesy. If you don't want to be treated with contempt, don't treat others that way.

Posted by: Mark on October 8, 2008 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Earlier in this campaign, the whole country was loudly and clearly told how to pronounce NEVADA, and informed that anybody who didn't was showing disrespect to the state and would likely lose votes as a result. And it is not just ignorance but a certain kind of imperial arrogance (typical of the "Empire State") when New Yorkers, for example, profess not to know or care where South Dakota is, as if that is a proper way to treat a "backwater" or "flyover" like South Dakota.

The issue is not cosmopolitan sophistication and its enemies. The issue is simple courtesy. If you don't want to be treated with contempt, don't treat others that way.

Posted by: Mark on October 8, 2008 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you baby jesus for letting me be born in Canada.

Posted by: Nathan on October 8, 2008 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

As parents who have a daughter adopted from Kazakhstan, we can say it is a relief that Obama actually pronounces the country of Pakistan correctly. Our daughter wages a constant war against Americans unaware and uncaring of the correct pronunciation of the "stan" countries. Hurray for Obama! About time.

Posted by: Mark Fagerburg on October 8, 2008 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Texas, where mispronouncing words is a competitive sporting event. It is, put simply, less ignorance- more disdain. The best way to show disrespect is intentional, but deliberate mispronunciation. Examples:

LBJ - Knee-gras - Negros
LBJ - Vee-it - naam
Local Towns - May-neer (Manor), Ell-ghine (Elgin), Re-phurg-gio (Refurgio), Pell-at-chez, (Palacios), Bow-gat-ta,(Bogota), Man - shack - aw, (Manchaca)

And a favorite of mine: Corpus Christi... who, in their right mind, names a city "dead body of Jesus"?

Posted by: bs on October 8, 2008 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

This is unbelievable! If you travel outside the United States you WILL find out that Obama's pronunciation is CORRECT... my husband and I lived as MISSIONARIES overseas.. (nothing elite about that) for a number of years and we came home pronouncing Iraq, Pakistan and many other words "correctly"... you learn... but.. along with the above mentioned "inanity" of this... I am concerned about something more.. does anyone remember things like the Khmer Rouge and other Communist organizations / regimes and takeovers where EDUCATION of all sorts became the enemy?? Maybe we should stop and think about that before we allow ourselves to go too far down this road... what a sad sad way to destroy our great country....and all it once stood for.

Posted by: Eloise on October 8, 2008 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

The right wing thinks it's cute to alternately pronounce the word "liberal" as either tray-tor, comm-you-nist, or un-pay-tree-ot-ick.

Posted by: AJB on October 8, 2008 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

The right's anti-intellectualism seems to be getting worse, doesn't it?

Wasn't it bad enough when GHWBush pronounced it Sa-Damn Hussein?

Posted by: milo on October 8, 2008 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

My pet peeve is anyone whose pet peeve is in fact based on bad information. For instance, to the poster up above, the first pronunciation of 'err' listed on Merriam-Webster is in fact 'air'.

Posted by: Jimbolaya on October 8, 2008 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Just because someone mispronounces or correctly pronounces a word makes them no more intelligent or dumber than another. I agree that things SHOULD be pronounced correctly but I see a lot of "intellectuals" here defending smugness rather than being intellectualism. We all agree we call Japan, japan, yet the real name of how the country should be is usually Nihon or Nippon.

Sorry both sides are wrong, please stop being tools..

Posted by: Marcelo on October 8, 2008 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Baah,

Nothing ain't been right in this world since them leebral media eleets stopped callin' Peking Peking!

BAY-JING? WTF?

Next thing we gonna see is Bombay Gin renamed Mumbay Gin.

I swears, that's gonna happen if you all elect that black irish muslum feller Hussain O'Bama

Posted by: on October 8, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

I think there's been an unfortunate confusion between populism and stupid. People who wanted more rights for farmers or workers, instead of bankers, were not against reading, free speech, geography, or the Constitution. And that is where I think the GOP perhaps has erred. I don't think Americans are dumb, or like dumbness. I think that's just what has been served up to them, for about thirty or forty years, on the TV.

Posted by: m.e.b. on October 8, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus pronounces it POCK-i-stan:

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/08/obama-pakistan/

Posted by: TNeedle on October 8, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

I HATE people who revel in ignorance and think stupidity is some sort of badge of honor. We've had stupid for 8 years and you know what? Stupid is worse than evil. Because things were not this bad when Nixon was president.

Posted by: Lilo on October 8, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, so Pahk-is-tan bothered them, but this did not?

Thats why I say, I like ever American Im speaking with were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the tax payers looking to bailout.

But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy Helping the Oh, its got to be about job creation too. Shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americas. A

And trade weve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive scary thing. But 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. Weve got to look at that as more opportunity. ALl those things under the umbrella of job creation.

This bailout is a part of that.

Hmmm...go figure.

Posted by: ckt on October 8, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, so Pahk-is-tan bothered them, but this did not?

Thats why I say, I like ever American Im speaking with were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the tax payers looking to bailout.

But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy Helping the Oh, its got to be about job creation too. Shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americas. A

And trade weve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive scary thing. But 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. Weve got to look at that as more opportunity. ALl those things under the umbrella of job creation.

This bailout is a part of that.

Hmmm...go figure.

Posted by: ckt on October 8, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hahaha, the repubics can't help being racistas.

Posted by: El Gayo on October 8, 2008 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

My pet peeve is anyone whose pet peeve is in fact based on bad information. For instance, to the poster up above, the first pronunciation of 'err' listed on Merriam-Webster is in fact 'air'.
Posted by: Jimbolaya

Yup. Err is from the word error, which is not pronounced uror or urur. If you must dress-up the pronunciation, go for air-or rather than air-ur.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 8, 2008 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Palin pronounces "Iraq" wrong.

Correct pronunciation "Viet-NAM."

Posted by: Ken on October 8, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

...and he takes vacations in exotic havaii.

Posted by: jz on October 8, 2008 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

We all agree we call Japan, japan, yet the real name of how the country should be is usually Nihon or Nippon. Posted by: Marcelo

Tell the Japanese that. They adopted the Chinese pronunciation - Jzerpan or there abouts, from the Chinese characters that they Japanese use.

Next thing we gonna see is Bombay Gin renamed Mumbay Gin.Posted by:

Actually, that would be Mumbai.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 8, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, if anyone were to pronounce "the United States of America" wrongly, these same goons would be all over them claiming it indicated ignorance, not qualified to speak on the USA etc. GWB only gets away with "U-narted Stets of 'mrka" because he's Prez.

It's symptomatic of the US exceptionalism that says we can pronounce your name any way we like, because we're rich and powerful. (we can also invade you and interfere with your domestic democratic processes, stuff over your economy, ....)

Posted by: number6 on October 8, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pretty sure (94%) that in the first debate McCain himself pronounced Pakistan the correct way shortly after Obama had said it. Pockistan.
I guess McCain, like Obama and Biden, is an intellectual snob unfit for leadership. That leaves just one candidate qualified to lead our nation.
Come to think of it, Palin was pronounce Pollin by a lot of conservatives in the early goings. You gotta love dumbsh*ts. They'd be a lot more entertaining if they weren't so dangerous.

Posted by: Jim on October 8, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

...and he takes vacations in exotic havaii.
Posted by: jz

Actually, that would be Havai'i.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 8, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

and it's yan mccahn and sayra pahleen, or better ahhsoles

Posted by: jz on October 8, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

and it's yan mccahn and sayra pahleen, or better yet, ahhsoles

Posted by: jz on October 8, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

I have read enough blogs to where I am now discerning about which ones I lend my time. Shockingly, this ridiculous topic has entertained me. The bottom lines goes back to what the gentleman from India (Ramki) said...be courteous enough to use the correct pronunciation if you know it. If you don't, no harm no foul. I mean really, why wasn't this an issue when the Terminator held his gubernatorial race. How many Americans have conformed to his dialect when repeating, "I'll be bach". Even better, is he not American - ergo, his dialect is now another "American" dialect. Do you consider the Louisiana "Coon-Ass" Frenchmen??? Nopethey're just funny talkin' Americans who speak French. By the way Mr. Ramki, I apologize for gregor. He is mostly likely a decendent of Egor and is trying to mask it by adding "Gr" to the front of his name.

Posted by: Texan for Progression on October 8, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

and it's yan mccahn and sayra pahleen, or better yet, ahhsoles

Posted by: jz on October 8, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

I have read enough blogs to where I am now discerning about which ones I lend my time. Shockingly, this ridiculous topic has entertained me. The bottom lines goes back to what the gentleman from India (Ramki) said...be courteous enough to use the correct pronunciation if you know it. If you don't, no harm no foul. I mean really, why wasn't this an issue when the Terminator held his gubernatorial race. How many Americans have conformed to his dialect when repeating, "I'll be bach". Even better, is he not American - ergo, his dialect is now another "American" dialect. Do you consider the Louisiana "Coon-Ass" Frenchmen??? Nopethey're just funny talkin' Americans who speak French. By the way Mr. Ramki, I apologize for gregor. He is mostly likely a decendent of Egor and is trying to mask it by adding "Gr" to the front of his name.

Posted by: Texan for Progression on October 8, 2008 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you baby jesus for letting me be born in Canada. Posted by: Nathan

Nathan wins the thread!

* * * * *

And, hey Mr./Mrs./Ms. moderator, what the fuck's up with this?

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Posted by: Jeff II on October 8, 2008 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

...at least you don't live in Colliefornia

Posted by: jz on October 8, 2008 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

I sometimes wonder if George WASHington, after whom our Capital is named, is bothered by the fact that John "Zinger" McC^nt seems incapable of pronouncing the name correctly. Is calling the District of Columbia "WARSHington" supposed to demonstrate an outsider authenticity?

Posted by: Lance on October 8, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's "E" ron. Not "I" ron, and it's Pahkistan, not Pakistan. If you are a diplomat of the U.S. like Palin professes she is capable of being, then for god's sake say it right in front of the world. It's a small thing to ask after 8 years of Bush's embarrassing blunders.

I like the fact that Obama is smart enough to know the difference and has the mental acumen to pronounce words correctly. It means he's not lazy, like Bush & Palin.

Why do we need illiterate ignoramus's to run the country? So we feel comfortable eating hotdogs around the grill with them? Oh goodie.

Posted by: Patty on October 8, 2008 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'm from Pakistan. Obama pronounces it correctly.

Posted by: sk on October 8, 2008 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

It always amazes me how ignorant arrogant Americans repeatedly mispronounce foreign names---you know, Sa-damn, eye-raq, pack-istan, etc., and then attack people who have enough respect to pronounce these words correctly. At minimum, have enough respect to at least make the ATTEMPT!

Posted by: AKFAIRNC on October 8, 2008 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

So why don't we say Paree? Right?

Posted by: on October 8, 2008 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

"To insist on "correct" pronunciation is simply an ostentation. It really IS elitist, kind turning up your pinky."

No one is insisting, just pointing out the idiocy of calling someone elite because for choosing to pronounce a country correctly.

Why wouldn't this same mockery be applied to Lance Armstrong and countless US reporters for saying "Tour de Fronce" instead of "France" with the short "a" sound?

Posted by: Chris on October 8, 2008 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Great, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Pakistan pronounces it wrong. Weird.

You'd think you'd let the locals of some place tell you how to pronounce it.

Posted by: Crissa on October 8, 2008 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Bush Republicans love wearing their stupidity and ignorance as a badge of honor from a bye-gone era. Fake fiscal conservatives and make-believe mavericks like Sarah "The Witch Hunter" Palin are void of integrity, morality, honor or ideas. What a Bunch of Losers...

Posted by: Targaray on October 8, 2008 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

I get a kick out of McCain's pronunciation of "citizens" as priz-un-urs.

The man is too old to be president. And you don't have to take my word for it - that's a direct quote from my 72-year-old mom.

Posted by: Bob Loblaw on October 8, 2008 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

This is a non-issue, which are the only things the right wing have left to stir up. See, they can't talk about the issues that are worrying the majority of the American people, because they have no plan for the country, so they bring up shit that doesn't matter - like how Senator Obama pronouces Pakistan.

Really? Good Lord, people.

Posted by: Tre Gibbs on October 8, 2008 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

This is a non-issue, which are the only things the right wing have left to stir up. See, they can't talk about the issues that are worrying the majority of the American people, because they have no plan for the country, so they bring up shit that doesn't matter - like how Senator Obama pronouces Pakistan.

Really? Good Lord, people.

Posted by: Tre Gibbs on October 8, 2008 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

First, a comment:

When the electorate have adopted a knee-jerk dislike for education and intellectualism, it makes it much easier to say things like "there's no proof that global warming is caused by greenhouse gases". It's a means to an end (and it looks like it's been depressingly effective).


Now, a joke:

A freshman at Harvard is walking across campus and asks an upperclassman, "Excuse me, could you tell me where the library is at?" The upperclassman responds, "My dear man, this is Harvard and at Harvard we speak correctly. It is not correct to end a sentence with a preposition." The freshman replies, "Then could you tell me where the library is at, ASSHOLE?"


(and if the joke contradicts the comment, so what?)

Posted by: philko on October 8, 2008 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

And why is it insane for Fox to pay Hannity $20M a year? Either they can afford it or they can't. If they can, then he and his humorless wingnut whining become the defining trait of Fox, further marginalizing the network. If they can't, then Fox is basically bankrupting themselves. Sounds fine to me.

Posted by: Bob Loblaw on October 8, 2008 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

"[O]ne thing I like about Sarah Palin is the way she says 'Eye-raq'."

Yeah, that's going to go over big when she meets with their national leaders.

Posted by: g on October 8, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

It's funny how some black people are dogged for using "ebonics", but it's okay for white conservatives to speak like uneducated hacks because it's "cute".

Posted by: Shea on October 8, 2008 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Heaven forbid that he should honor another country by pronouncing the name of that country correctly. Apart from exhibiting his intelligence, wouldn't that kind of respect be of benefit in negotiating with their leaders?

However, consider that it is not such a strange, elitist thing for him to use the soft "a" in pronouncing Pakistan or a hard "e" in pronouncing Iraq. The man was raised in Hawaii, exposed to the Hawaiian language, and that is exactly how these vowels are pronounced in Hawaiian. He's also been exposed to the Japanese language here in Hawaii -- same pronunciation of these vowels. The point is this country has real problems, so let's get real people.

Posted by: Hawaii Resident on October 8, 2008 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

Heaven forbid that he should honor another country by pronouncing the name of that country correctly. Apart from exhibiting his intelligence, wouldn't that kind of respect be of benefit in negotiating with their leaders?

However, consider that it is not such a strange, elitist thing for him to use the soft "a" in pronouncing Pakistan or a hard "e" in pronouncing Iraq. The man was raised in Hawaii, exposed to the Hawaiian language, and that is exactly how these vowels are pronounced in Hawaiian. He's also been exposed to the Japanese language here in Hawaii -- same pronunciation of these vowels. The point is this country has real problems, so let's get real people.

Posted by: Hawaii Resident on October 8, 2008 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

"WaRshington" is NOT "insider" speak, paxr55.

I grew up in the DC metro area. The "r" pronunciation was not used by anyone I ever talked to, save for a few people new to the area who quickly learned the natives don't like that.

When I moved to Tennessee, I was appalled at how incredibly wide-spread is the use of "Warshington." But these people don't want to learn the correct pronunciation. They think saying something incorrectly is funny, and tease those to who make the effort to not sound like idiots. It's disgusting, seeing the joy some people take in ignorance.

Posted by: Lynette on October 8, 2008 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

I always wondered why Bush Sr. said "Sa" "dam" rather than "Sa" "daum." Turns out "Sa" "dam" meant something like "boot licker." I think it's always good to disrespect as much of the rest of the world as our ignorance will allow. It makes dealing with them much easier. I find someone who knows how to say world leaders' names and their countries correctly refreshing; I imagine they do to.

Posted by: Johnjlws on October 8, 2008 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

As the world looks on, global markets are in crisis and the U.S. of A responsible for the crisis wastes it time on pettiness and unimportant things. Yes it is irresponsible and disrespectful of any candidate for the Presidency or Vice Presidency to mispronounce the name of any country or ethnic group but God Almighty we have far more important things to discuss than some peoples ignorance and lack of basic learning. No wonder the world has lost respect for the U.S. of A. and it leadership.

Posted by: Bev from Canada on October 8, 2008 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

These writers (Lopez and Stein) cannot be serious. They have to be pulling the chains of liberals. This is either ignorant and/or arrogant. I did not agree with the founder of "National Review", the late William F. Buckley, but at least he had class which is sorely missing in the "writers" contributing to his publication. How sad, anti-intellectualism in an intellectual magazine. Mr. Buckley, the consumate intellectual, must be spinning in his grave.

Posted by: yougogirl on October 8, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

These writers (Lopez and Stein) cannot be serious. They have to be pulling the chains of liberals. This is either ignorant and/or arrogant. I did not agree with the founder of "National Review", the late William F. Buckley, but at least he had class which is sorely missing in the "writers" contributing to his publication. How sad, anti-intellectualism in an intellectual magazine. Mr. Buckley, the consumate intellectual, must be spinning in his grave.

Posted by: yougogirl on October 8, 2008 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Let's stop this kind of antics. We need a leader, we need change. Help us raise money for Obama by buying an Obama Car flag. Or buy wholesale and fundraise on your own.

www.avehicle4change.com

Obama '08

Posted by: Natalie G. on October 8, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

My God, with the whole world watching, the global economy in crisis, and the U.S. of A. who caused the crisis, has nothing better to do than play I gotcha on mispronouncing names of countries, and who is an elitist and who isn't. No wonder the world has lost respect for the U.S. of A. and its leaders. Yes mispronouncing the name of any country or nationality or ethnic group by someone running for the leadership of the US is disrespectful, disgraceful, and shows a basic lack of education and willingness to learn, but God Almighty there are far more important things to be talking about. But then maybe they have to talk about such petty things because they don't have any good ideas on how to solve the problems. So they have to resort to pettiness, and promoting hate between those that are educated and those that are not, between blacks and whites, between christians, and all moslems. If this is so then they are not only ignorant but also despicable.

Posted by: Bev form Canada on October 8, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

My God, with the whole world watching, the global economy in crisis, and the U.S. of A. who caused the crisis, has nothing better to do than play I gotcha on mispronouncing names of countries, and who is an elitist and who isn't. No wonder the world has lost respect for the U.S. of A. and its leaders. Yes mispronouncing the name of any country or nationality or ethnic group by someone running for the leadership of the US is disrespectful, disgraceful, and shows a basic lack of education and willingness to learn, but God Almighty there are far more important things to be talking about. But then maybe they have to talk about such petty things because they don't have any good ideas on how to solve the problems. So they have to resort to pettiness, and promoting hate between those that are educated and those that are not, between blacks and whites, between christians, and all moslems. If this is so then they are not only ignorant but also despicable.

Posted by: Bev form Canada on October 8, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

You know I'm beginning to think that the Republican Party comprises an odd coupling of the nation's wealthiest with the lower end of the scale of smarts in this country. Our average IQ is 98. Normal should be 120 at least. The way people can be swayed by the overt lies of the McCain/Palin ticket must be from the lower end of scale (70-80's),that's pulling the average down to 98. It's the only explanation I can think of. Considering the economy, I have to shake my head at the ramshackle houses with McCain/Palin signs in the yard.

Posted by: V. Rogers on October 8, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that it's a stupid thing to for the wingnuts to pick on, but I have to admit that I find it a tad annoying too. After all, we don't go around calling France "Frahnse" or Spain "España."

Posted by: enb14 on October 8, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Pack-iss-tan" is how it's pronounced here in the States. Really, it is. Not just in the Red states, but everywhere, even in the true-blue liberal northeast. I'd never heard anyone pronounce it "Pagh-iss-tahn" until Obama did it in the first debate.

Wow. Do you refer to black Americans as "darkies?"

Posted by: Sodbuster on October 8, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican idea of education: Why study? Much easier to just make fun of the smart kids in the class.

Posted by: Shabba on October 8, 2008 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

If we are going to insist that candidate pronounce foreign words the way the foreigners do....are we going to require them to talk about the fall of the "Bear-leen" Wall? Having a meeting in Pare-eee?
There IS something off-putting about people who insist on pronouncing Nicaragua -- "Neeka rhow wah" rolling their R's...especially when you learn the only word they know in Spanish is taco.

Posted by: OllieG on October 8, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Pet peeve: The failure by Americans to make a distinction between the words "bring" and "take", as in moving an object from one location to another. It would appear that the prevailing wisdom is that "bring" works in any situation.

In general terms, it's not surprising when you look at the way in which the "smart" kids are treated in schools in the USA. Being "pretty", a jock, "popular" are considered better qualities than being intelligent and these Palinesque attitudes are entrenched from a very young age. It's not surprising that the chickens are now coming home to roost.

Posted by: CK on October 8, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

I was impressed that Barack Obama pronounced Pakistan correctly. It is not necessary that he does, but it is impressive that he does know it. Ignorance is nothing to be proud of.

My conservative traditional values that my parents taught me was to work hard in school and at my job and make something of myself. We do not need a dumbing down of America. They were proud of me when I got into a good college and I was filled with joy myself. Plus I was happy to make my parents proud after all the love and dedication they showed me.

When I was growing up stupidity and ignorance was not a Republican party family value.

Posted by: JKR on October 8, 2008 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

I think we will look back on this era as the culmination a generation of male moviegoers from the 80s failing to learn the difference between Rambo and a statesman.

It will also be the era in which the courage, grace and steadfastness of gay americans trumped the stained-glass tribalism movement.

Posted by: Stephen on October 8, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Whites have ridiculed the way African-Americans speak forever but suddenly it's patriotic regional vernacular not to speak well? As an African-American, I can't resist the amusement of it suddenly being a redeemable quality to ignore the correct enunciation and pronunciation of words. For only an articulate and electable man of African descent with the presidency in sight could possibly elicit such a ridiculous and ironic addition to the culture wars!

And please don't accuse me of playing the race card. Every time a black person acknowledges being black or finding a racial subtext it is not playing the race card. Playing the R.C. is using race in a deliberately and disingenuously tactical way in order to manipulate others for one's own gain. This is not that. This is just professing irony to what I thought was a constant (whites mostly speak well/blacks don't) in our national self-misperception.

Posted by: jay on October 8, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

You'd expect a Moslem from e-light society to know how to pronounce Pahk-ee-stahn. Borderline affected, however. Another one I've noticed is saying Moqtada (as in al-Sadr)real fast with no accent on the middle syllable, supposedly the Iraqi pronunciation.

Could range from very affected to downright weird,for ex., if a talk show chatterer insisted in pronouncing Chinese names using sing song Mandarin voicings, or insisted on referring to Germany using the German pronunciation, i.e., "Deutschland."

Posted by: Luther on October 8, 2008 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon, really? This is the biggest issue for conservatives? Got a question for the conservatives: What exactly is the platform of the GOP, is it continued sleaze, innuendo, and mistruths that I have heard over the last few days, rather than any real information about issues? All of the covert racism, and the knowing smiles as the crowd is worked up into a lynch mob? Do you have any details for me on the McCain fix for public education. Oh wait, I already know, according to his site there isn't one...for PUBLIC schools.
Here's an example just to help you out: Cindy McCain's cold blooded comment on Obama's voting: The specific bill she is speaking of? FactCheck.org called the McCain claim that Obama voted against troops "highly misleading."
Obama has voted in favor of war-funding bills at least 10 times since becoming a U.S. senator. Using the same standard, McCain has supported cutting off funding to U.S. troops. To justify its claim, McCain's presidential campaign cites one vote that Obama cast against a funding bill, but that vote came after President Bush vetoed a version of the bill that included a date for withdrawal from Iraq. In fact, most Republicans voted against the 2007 war-funding bill that Obama and other Democrats supported. McCain was absent for that vote, but he urged Bush to veto the bill. "Based on those facts, it would be literally true to say that 'McCain urged a veto of funding for our troops,' " FactCheck.org reported on Sept. 3. "But that would be oversimplified to the point of being seriously misleading."

Oh yes, and about Palin:
http://www.youtube.com/my_videos

Posted by: on October 8, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Just wondering...we've had Jed Clampett in office for 8 years and have Ellie Mae running for VP with John McCain, and someone is griping about Obama sounding exotic, rather than idiotic?

Posted by: Donna on October 8, 2008 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

"THE DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA"

just another gift to our country from george bush & co. apparantly conservatives cannot get enuff (dumber)

Posted by: feldman on October 8, 2008 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Obama would not just pick up pronouncing "Pakistan" properly as an adult. He lived in Indonesia for several years as a child and may have learned how to pronounce it there. Jeeze Louise. This is so silly! And many American children have lived in other countries. Isn't it good that for once we might have a president that is able to speak well and is intelligent, and can pronounce peoples' countries correctly? (I cringe when people say Eyeraq and Eyetalian). Do people prefer to have more of the same and turn into a third world country? If we are not there yet? Stupidity and ignorance has not done our country any good at all, especially in the last eight years.

Posted by: Meah Bottoms on October 8, 2008 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Obama would not just pick up pronouncing "Pakistan" properly as an adult. He lived in Indonesia for several years as a child and may have learned how to pronounce it there. Jeeze Louise. This is so silly! And many American children have lived in other countries. Isn't it good that for once we might have a president that is able to speak well and is intelligent, and can pronounce peoples' countries correctly? (I cringe when people say Eyeraq and Eyetalian). Do people prefer to have more of the same and turn into a third world country? If we are not there yet? Stupidity and ignorance has not done our country any good at all, especially in the last eight years.

Posted by: Meah Bottoms on October 8, 2008 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

So THIS is was so-called conservatives have left? To criticize Obama's pronunciation of Pakistan? LOL

Question: Have you tried to diagram one of Sarah Palin's statements recently? ANY of them?

LOL, dummies

Posted by: DS9Sisko on October 8, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Personal pet peeve: 7am in the morning. Redundancy never sounds intelligent, any yet....

Posted by: Patriot on October 8, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Stupidity and ignorance is running rampant in the Republican party. OH! MY! GOD!

Dear Lord, I pray for the Republicans because they have lost their minds and believe we should have complete idiots as leaders of our great country. Please heal and deliver them from whatever evil spirit has come over them in the last decade (the devil must be making them do it!).

Now, let those of us who have something of substance to contribute get back to the serious business of solving the very critical issues facing our nation.

Posted by: Independent on October 8, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Rovian strategy is to take anything and everything about your opponent -- character strengths and flaws -- and use them as weapons. Doesn't matter how senseless the attacks are because the media will just discuss it over and over and over until it magically becomes true. Barack Obama could save a baby from a burning building and Fox News would still try to spin it to fit their agenda. "He took away a fireman's job! That hurts the economy!"

By the way, shameless plug alert! Please join my rapidly growing Facebook group called "I'm Voting For 'That One'" and invite your friends to join. It is currently the largest "That One" group on Facebook (500+ members), aside from the "That One" fan page.

Posted by: Evan on October 8, 2008 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, the group page is located at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=30167148767 for anybody who'd like to join.

Posted by: Evan on October 8, 2008 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Lori -- you did spell judgment incorrectly. It is spelled judgment in the U.S. and judgement in England. Use your spellchecker. Also, it's argument, not arguement.

Posted by: Clare53 on October 8, 2008 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

How dumb can they be???

Today the girls over at Faux News were outraged, outraged, I tell you, that Newsweek did not airbrush out Palin's facial hair.

These people *are* dumber'n a bag of hammers.

Posted by: LiberalTarian on October 8, 2008 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

The reason they mispronounce certain names and words (like eye-rack) is to insult in public. It has become acceptable to mispronounce loudly just like the bullies in elementary school would twist a funny name. As usual, the Republican's accusations are almost perfectly ironic, the ostentatious action is the loudly mispronouncing. They are so consumed with the fun of insulting that the only thing they can think to say is the exact opposite of what they're doing. So it has become a badge of in-crowd status to say words a certain way.

Posted by: amy on October 8, 2008 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

amy makes excellent points about in-group behavior, which extends to group pronunciations designed to insult perceived out-groups. Still, PACK-is-tan is the most common American pronunciation (according to M-W 10) and is rooted in American phonetical conventions, not in the desire to insult out-groups.

Posted by: paxr55 on October 8, 2008 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, if you are speaking or writing American English, spell the word any damn way you want. Pronounce it that way also. However, if you are speaking or writing Standard English, it is "judgement"

Mr Obama is not just speaking to Americans, what ever you may think - the entire world is watching CNN. People get a real kick out of knowing that he is pronouncing their country's name correctly - and this is a very good diplomatic move. So Pakistanis know that he is at least aware that they are humans as proud of their country and heritage as Americans are.

He is brilliant - this is going to be the leader of the Free World, and he is going to making sure there are no resentments, even as he has to say hard things.

By the way, here in Jamaica, what you call an avocado is what we call a pear, and frankly, there is nothing more annoying than an American tourist trying to teach me how to call something that WE have already NAMED.

Or trying to tell me that I am a "Caribbean" whatever the heck that is, instead of a West Indian. Are Americans in the middle of an ocean called AMERICA?

So, you call it avocado, we'll call it pear, and we'll all be happy ok?...that's called diplomacy and really, should not even be a cause for comment.

Posted by: on October 8, 2008 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Some one posted that they have never heard of Pakistan pronounced the way Obama does. I have and it was NATO Gen. Wesley Clark (Rhodes Scholar).

GW success will be dumbing down America.

Posted by: DeRange on October 8, 2008 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Obama's pronunciation is how Pakistanis themselves pronounce it. Why is that a problem?

Posted by: Tim on October 8, 2008 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

I say "Eye-raq" too. And yes, I say "Pack-istan" rather than "Pock-istan." But I'm not going to slam someone for saying it correctly.

Posted by: Herb on October 8, 2008 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

I was thrilled the first time I heard Obama pronounce Pakistan in a debate, especially since his "experience" and "foreign policy" cred were such an issue. It made me laugh, because it seemed like such a subtle way to lay claim to his superior knowledge and background here. As more and more of his policy prescriptions have proven prescient, the pronunciation has come to serve as a reminder.

It acts as a shibboleth; but the "soft a" is not the marker of some elitist claque, as his right-wing detractors might claim. Rather, Obama's ability to (gasp!) correctly pronounce the name of a foreign country serves as a symbol for those who can see that his particular brand of globalism is just what we need to lead us out of our current miasma.

Oh, and as someone who spent some time in the Balkans in the mid-nineties, I was also moved by Biden's use of "Bosniaks." What a ticket!

Now, here's a *really* hard one: how do you pronounce "Appalachia"? (When I moved from one side to the other, I was shocked by the change in regional standard.)

Posted by: thisniss on October 8, 2008 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

I get it. The right having made an issue of Obama's (correct) pronunciation of Pakistan, Palin and her ilk will next claim that the reason Obama uses this "exotic" and "elitist" pronunciation is that he learned it when he went to that Muslim country as a college student and got indoctrinated in some al-Qaeda madrassa.

See--it all suddenly makes sense.

McCain says "Warshington," by the way, because that's the way people say it (or at least did in McCain's younger days) in the dialect known as Balmorese, also widely spoken in Annapolis.

Posted by: jm917 on October 8, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Back in 1994, when "Forrest Gump" came out, I cringed, believing that it would get people to glorify stupidity. Yes, Tom Hanks was wonderful in the part, but the message that was being sent was, in my mindBack in 1994, when "Forrest Gump" came out, I cringed, believing that it would get people to glorify stupidity. Yes, Tom Hanks was wonderful in the part, but the message that was being sent was, in my mind, a dangerous one: "Hooray for dumb people!" and "See? Dumb people sometimes make the right choices in life!" and the worst one, "Dumb people have a right to be represented, too." It didn't matter to the viewer that it was fiction and Forrest Gump's decisions were always right, in spite of his stupidity. Forrest was seen universally as lovable and his stupidity was just a minor debility, like a wart on the nose. But that message - "Stupid is just fine with us" - it scared me.

(This was all preceded years before by "Being There", and it bothered me then, too.)

I know, I know, you are all going to say I was taking it somewhere WAY out there, way too far.

But when I saw GW Bush for the first time, in 1997, my flesh crawled because I saw an embodiment of Forrest Gump - a truly stupid man as Governor of a state, and who had already been anointed the GOP candidate for President; all the money and all the attention was going to this incredibly stupid and incapable man. And DANGEROUS.

I truly FEARED for my country.

History has proven my fears then to have been correct. True, I may have gotten lucky, like Forrest Gump. But I don't think so.

This posting brings back all that flooding back into my mind - the glorification of ignorance and stupidity. I am CERTAIN that it has been, in and of itself, a TACTIC, a deliberate effort to encourage people to think there is something noble about stupidity. They have appealed to people's stupid side, and they guessed right.

But, unlike Forrest Gump, I think that the tactic was developed, that there were studies done in the right wing think tanks that came up with this as a strategy. In other words, it was not just something that HAPPENED. It was found to be in their favor, so they implemented it.

And still are.

Posted by: SteveGinIL on October 8, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone stopped to think that when Obama was a kid, he lived in Indonesia and went to school there. What this means is that in school he learned to speak Indonesian and probably British English. Moreover, his father and his non American stepfathers would also have used British pronunciation.

In UK English, Pakistan is pronounced Pahkistahn, often with the accent on the last syllable (just listen to the BBC). I suspect Indonesian is similar. It is very hard to change what one learns as a child.

The famous conservative Wm F Buckley's first languages were Spanish and French, and he learned English in first grade in London. He later spoke what used to be called NY Brahmin English, which is rather close to UK English. I betcha he pronounced Pakistan just like Obama does.

And he also pronounced his favorite composer's name as Bach, not Back.

Posted by: jhh on October 8, 2008 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

The refusal to pronounce unfamiliar (or so-called "foreign") names and words properly should not be elevated as "anti-intellectualism." It is a measure of cultural insularity, stupidity, and condescension. Proper pronunciation is not "intellectual" but rather, simply, respectful. The more this unfortunate habit is glorified, the smaller we become as a nation.

Posted by: Frank L. Pasquale on October 8, 2008 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Heck...As John McCain said last night "I learned everything I know about leadership from a Petty Officer."

Not from his years in the Naval Academy...he learned it from


Richard Nixon.

Posted by: cinnamonape on October 8, 2008 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Luther @ 10:06:

Sing song Mandarin voicings

You mean actually using the correct tone that goes with the word you're saying? Like using the correct tone (rising, falling, steady) so when you say "Ma" you are, in fact, saying "mother" and not "horse?" Tones aren't some aristocratic air; that's how Mandarin is correctly spoken. Same with Vietnamese. They're both tonal languages. And what the hell is wrong with taking a minute to put in the effort to learn the correct pronunciation of a proper name?

This moment of global linguistics brought to you by an enlisted DLI graduate who doesn't relish the idea of another four years of morons in the White House.

Posted by: Keori on October 8, 2008 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly guys we must stop this culture war and face reality. The world is changing and it is changing progressively and fast! Being proud of being un-educated is ignorant! Senator Obama is well educated, he is smart and he has a world view. That is what this country needs in a president. We don't need mediocre, we had that for 8 years and we are in great trouble for it. Gov.Palin is not qualified to be vice president, he education is mediocre, and she has proved she does not have the intellectual depth needed for this job. We do not need a Joe 6 pack kind of person in the White House. Stop the hate, and stop the spin. BTW: I am a republican, a female who is voting for the democratic party in November, and very many of my friends are too!

Posted by: Jane on October 8, 2008 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, Nathan definitely wins with "Thank you baby Jesus..."

These neocons are the same people who when traveling overseas (rare for them, I'm sure), insist that everyone in every country speak English for them. But if anyone comes to our country speaking a different language, it's "When ur in amerka, ya gots to speak amerken"

Posted by: seattleveggirl on October 8, 2008 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

***"[N]o one in flyover country says Pock-i-stahn. It's annoying."***

I wonder what the people in Pierre, SD think about this.

Posted by: Mo on October 9, 2008 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, let's make a big deal out of the pronunciation of Pakistan as the country slides into bankruptcy, fundamentalism and chaos with nuclear weapons in their arsenal. Wait, is that Pakistan or the USA?

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. I guess it's better than actually talking about your man's policies. I can see why they want to change the subject. This discussion epitomizes the essential triviality of the McCain/Palin ticket and the current Republican party.

We don't need to know how to pronounce Pakistan, we need to have a plan for dealing with Pakistan! Obama would simply do a better job.

Posted by: Dana Chapin on October 9, 2008 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Generally, I believe that it is good to learn to pronounce names of the places the way the natives pronounce them, whether in other countries or here in the U.S. But if other pronunciations are often used, it's not a big deal to me. But the conservatives are just showing again how wrong-minded they are by accusing Obama of some sort of elitism by pronouncing Pakistan correctly. I definitely agree with those who laud his pronunciation as showing sensitivity to the Pakistanis. If he does this as a rule, that will be a huge step worldwide toward better diplomatic relations.

When travelling abroad, it really is necessary to learn the local rules of pronunciation. It also highly behooves one to learn a few words like hello, how are you, please, and thank you. You don't have to become a fluent speaker or even a halting speaker. But you will have a far better reception in any country if you've made the effort to learn just a few words, and to pronounce them like the locals as best you can.

Case in point. My ex and I were travelling in Switzerland. We were on the Eurail, and as those of you know who've traveled that way, the conductor comes around shortly before each stop, announcing the name of that stop. In the local language, of course.

Another couple in the same car we were in asked loudly, "Does anyone here speak English?" So we asked them what they needed. They said, "We're supposed to get off in 'Spice'. Do you know where that is?"

My ex and I looked at each other, baffled. Then we asked if they had a map. They did, and pointed to the name of the town: Spiez. So my ex and I told them that it was pronounced Shpeets, which we had passed a couple of stops back. They missed their stop because they blithely were touring in Europe with the assumption that "everybody speaks English". Not only is this not true, but even when you are speaking with someone who speaks English, it depends on the topic of conversation.

Years ago, my little brother was curious to learn how to count from one to ten in other languages. I had already gone through French and German with him. My sister, who had had 2 years of high school Spanish, started to count in Spanish. "Ewnow, dows, trays, cuahtrow, sinkow, sayss, siaytay, owchow, nuayvay, diays."

I was appalled. I then recounted for him with a Spanish accent (okay, a Mexican accent, since we live in Arizona.) I asked her why she was mangling the pronunciation so badly, since I knew she could hear the difference. She said she would feel "embarrassed" if she tried to speak Spanish with a better accent.

This just blew me away. To me, NOT making the attempt to speak another language with the best accent you can achieve is embarrassing. Since I am lucky enough to have a discerning ear (I have perfect pitch, too), to me it's a matter of pride to speak other languages with a native accent, and I have received countless compliments over the years from native speakers of the languages I speak to any degree.

The idea that deliberately mispronouncing names from other places is what one ought to do, just baffles me. Just another reason why I'm a liberal and proud of it.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on October 9, 2008 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Back in the '70s the Bay Area comedy group Duck's Breath Mystery Theater had a comedy skit about some motivation hucksters who had a program called "Dare to Be Stupid", which encouraged you to proudly embrace and assert your stupidity. Our at least I thought it was a comedy skit at the time, now I find out then were just channeling the 2008 Republican ticket. Who knew?

Posted by: hopeful4us on October 9, 2008 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of returning to the US after living in France for 4 years. Speaking to (well-educated) American friends, I received objections when refering to the French monetary unit as francs (pronounced "fraahk" -- french prounciation). Even my husband objected and said that since I was back in the US I should use an "American pronounciation" -- "frank" (as in hot dog!) This made no sense to me, after spending most of the four years learning the language. I speak english with an American accent, french with a Parisian accent, german with a gutteral accent, etc.-- all based upon having learned the various languages from native speakers. I think it's a compliment to those people to respect their language pronounciation. How many times have we heard Americans complain about new immigrants to our country not speaking "proper" english? In the US we're taught a, e, i, o, u, each pronounced as written with the "long" sound; in almost every other language the pronounciation changes to "aah" (short a), "a" (long a), "e" (as in the first two letters of the sound you make when you see a mouse), "oh", "oo" (as in oo la la). Once you learn that, it almost become automatic when faced with a word that's other than english! Gee, does that make me elitist?

Posted by: Sandy on October 9, 2008 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm. Nooooclear is okay though.

Posted by: ronnierayjenkins on October 9, 2008 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

Obama got the pronunciation right. Pakistan is pronounced pah-ki-sthaan and not pak-is-tan, which is the typical American pronunciation. Afghanistan is pronounced ahf-gaan-isthan. Muslim is correctly pronounced as mus-lim (derived from Musalmaan) and not mah-slim.

It just burns me to hear Americans distorting names of foreign lands or people from other cultures. You are not exactly honoring a person if you insist on mispronouncing his name. One such name that comes to mind is Kofi Annan, (the previous Secretary-General of the UN) the correct pronounciation is kofi anaan.

Posted by: South Asian on October 9, 2008 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

Last time we saw this kind of thinking it resulted in a Cambodian genocide.

the 'Khmer Rouge-publicans' represent everything that is wrong with America.

Posted by: s2nami on October 9, 2008 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

What I want to know is if it is still cool to want to go to college?? If it is and you are privileged to attend Yale or Princeton and graduate, are you then "uppity" and elitist ? I don't understand the Rights argument about the Obama's education. Are they putting it down because of the educational background of McCain/Palin? You dumb down the educational requirements to be President so that when someone like them come along, it makes more sense to appoint the person "just like me". Which is ridiculous. I know a lot of people "just like me" and I can't think of anyone I'd want to run my country and my children's country.

If you were to compare the backgrounds of say the Obama's against the McCains or the Biden's against the Palin's....MAN...there really isn't a comparison.

Posted by: Darlene on October 9, 2008 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

They already are at work on changing the meaning so of words. For example Patriotism means shredding constitution and invading countries on credit... Sexism means ...

Posted by: boophus on October 9, 2008 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

All other things being equal (which of course they are not) I would vote for Obama/Biden just to free us of another person who says "new-cue-lar".

Posted by: bob98102 on October 9, 2008 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Whichwich said: I thought Biden flubbed too when he said Bosniaks (actually, the correct spelling is Bosniac

Funny, I didnt know the word, either, but I didnt assume it was wrong for that reason. Looks like Bosniak is preferred, but Bosniac is acceptable and Bosnian can be either a noun or an adjective.

Posted by: on October 9, 2008 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Lynette said: “When I moved to Tennessee, I was appalled at how incredibly wide-spread is the use of ‘Warshington.’ But these people don't want to learn the correct pronunciation. They think saying something incorrectly is funny, and tease those to who make the effort to not sound like idiots. It's disgusting, seeing the joy some people take in ignorance.”

How trying it must be for one of your intellectual stature to find yourself among the linguistic Lilliputians of Tennessee. However, I’ve spent most of my life here and don’t recall ever hearing anyone pronouncing the name of the city or the state “Warshington.” Those you know here must do it just for your benefit. I know I would.

Posted by: John Mayer on October 9, 2008 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

I reserve my true hatred for people who clearly know how to pronounce things correctly but deliberately affect an incorrect pronunciation. For instance, House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va) is clearly a Jewish guy with a standard flat mid-Atlantic accent who has decided to affect a rich Southern drawl, which periodically threatens to vanish when he discusses subjects like finance or international relations.

Then, obviously, there is Sarah Palin's pronunciation of the word "nuclear" as "nu-cu-lar". She faked it.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 9, 2008 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

With Palin it's an act...a pretense...like moving to Texas or down south and imitating the inhabitants. It's important in foreign affairs and international diplomacy to try to correctly pronounce the names of countries and their leaders.

It's not cute or quaint to have Jed Clampant's character speaking to the UN when you aren't Jed Clampant. It's insulting to have someone imitating you to your face in their speech only to have them talk completely different when you leave the room. Sympathy to those too ignorant to know when they are being 'mocked' or made fun of by a phony who does it to manipulate those around her. It's main purpose is to distract constantly from the real issues keeping your focus elsewhere. Acting for the cameras is extremely noticeable to those who have done it for years and Palin is an act, a very shallow act and an embarrassment to voters. No legitimate reason to have been picked by McCain and it's obvious. She's right out of the movie "Idiocracy" and now that her act has been exposed I doubt she will remain Gov. very much longer either. It's back to the PTA and a sex education agenda for this goober.

Posted by: joey on October 9, 2008 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't hear anyone on the Right complain that McCain pronounces the Iranian president 'Arrkk-madinejad' instead of Amadinejad like the general populace, or that Palin copied this exact pronunciation in the VP debate several times.

Funny how McCain can bear to say Ahmadinejad but not his own presidential rival's name.

(For the record John, his name is 'Barack' and you mispronounced it 'ThhhhATT One').

Posted by: Stevie Modern on October 9, 2008 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

so do we expect the French to call us the United States instead of Etats-Unis? should we be calling Paris "Pah-ree"? I'm sure you all talk about Bar-thay-lona and Madreeth, Spain, as well. All languages adapt foreign names to fit the phonemes they're comfortable with. In the Arab world, I believe we're known as Ahm-ree-kah. Should we be demanding they change their pronunciation to be just like ours?

Posted by: David on October 9, 2008 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

also, I have Pakistani friends and they say pronounce it with the both "a"s as in apple. In Urdu, though they say something like "Puqgh-stAHn" in their throats. Obama's was still far from a native pronunciation, so why bother?

Posted by: David on October 9, 2008 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

"and facts "have a well-known liberal bias"."

"Facts are not irrefutable." (a fox news guy said that, go figure) lol

Posted by: go-bama on October 9, 2008 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

پاكستان - that's Pākistān (hope people have unicode on for all that). I've taken Hindi and also studied Urdu on my own. Obama is not far off except for the stress, and his English consonant approximations.

In regards to the argument that other countries also have their own names and local pronunciations for America, that's a fair point. Except, since here we're not talking about Bharat/India, it's already transliterated for you, and not really established like Mexico or Germany. So, what's the diplomatic or phonetic harm in pronouncing Iraq, Iran and Pakistan as they do there? -- I dare any politician to attempt the voiced velar fricative ('gh') in 'Afghanistan' though! Now THAT would be pretentious! Like David Sedaris' "Nicaragua" bit!

But I forget. It is now 'de rigueur' to be "ig'nant". Oh my God! I used French! Pardon my learnin'! Shoot me Newspeak police! Yes, please! Don't stop until your crusade to dumb the WHOLE country down is complete.

Posted by: Kurt Singer on October 9, 2008 at 4:49 AM | PERMALINK

Not being American but Dutch, you might say that perhaps I shouldn't join in this discussion. However, the question of who will become the next president of the US obviously is important for the rest of the world as well, and I always follow your elections closely.

Every time again, I am amazed what a mess you make out of it, while still proclaiming that the US is the 'best' and 'most democratic' country in the world. How can the Republican party seriously nominate people like Dan Quayle, GWB, and now Sarah Palin for the most (or second most) important job in the country, and not feel ashamed about it? I think I read it here, it may have been another blog, but as somebody said before "I don't want an average Joe like myself to govern me, I want somebody who's smarter and more able, but one who can understand what I need." I probably wouldn't have voted for people like Eisenhower, Ford etc., but while disagrreeing with their politics, I can see them and even Nixon, Reagan, GHWB as presidents, but these people??? The Democratic candidats over the last decades may not have been perfect (though I have a hard time finding any equivalents), but at least they don't come over like complete idiots.

And more important even than that, when was the last time you ever had an election that was really fought on the issues? Your presidential 'debates' never get a chance to become real because of all those rules negotiated beforehand, and your campaigns, while costing hundreds of millions of dollars, in the end just turn into personal attacks, mudthrowing, an unending series of those ridiculous, negative and blatantly untruthful TV ads. And the campaign strategists are even proud of it.

The whole thing discussed in this thread, how is it possible that this issue even comes up? Your political commentators discuss a presidential debate, in the middle of a world wide financial crisis, and this is what they focus on? Charging someone with being elitist for being smart enough for knowing something and respectful enough (as mentioned by many posters) to do something with it? Or, on the next channel, throwing a fit and making a political issue of the fact that a magazine coverphotograph isn't photoshopped 'properly'?? Don't you have more important things to discuss?

And Americans wonder why the US is no longer as loved and admired by the rest of the world as it used to be.....

Posted by: Arie on October 9, 2008 at 5:03 AM | PERMALINK

After countless comments about the mispronounciation of "nuke-u-lar" I can't help reminding people that some intelligent Democrats like Walter Mondale and Jimmy Carter err in the same manner.

Posted by: Grupetti on October 9, 2008 at 5:03 AM | PERMALINK

I enjoy language and read about correct usage and pronunciation for entertainment. Go figure. (There does seem to be a regular stream of popular books on these subjects, BTW.) One of them, however, speculated on the correct pronunciation of the word Porsche - yes, the car. The conclusion the book reached was that those who say porsh-uh, as opposed to porsh, were typically Porsche owners. Therefore, the writer decided, it was elitism to make it a two syllable word.

However, would it not be those who care enough about the car in question to own one also be the ones who care enough to know how to correctly say its name?

Correct pronunciation indicates interest, care, good manners or any number of things. Elitism may be one of those things, but if that is your first and/or only assumption, then it says more about you than it does about the person who spoke. You are likely giving away more about yourself than you really mean to do.

Posted by: Shuphrique on October 9, 2008 at 5:07 AM | PERMALINK

bEING EDUCATED AND WORDLY IS A CRIME- lets face it

For a journalist to ridicule the CORRECT pronunciation of a Country or any word for that matter is a disgrace to our language.
And it makes us as Americans look more and more and MORE unworldly and plain DUMB.
WE RAISE OUR KIDS TO EXCEL TO ACHIEVE TO BE SMART AND THEN WE RAG ON THEM WHEN THEY GET IT RIGHT!!

So Senator Obama actually speaks like a gentleman and you guys have issue with this??
Give me a break! It BUGS me when I have to listen to Palin talk like shes at a BBQ all day long.

Posted by: chris on October 9, 2008 at 5:44 AM | PERMALINK

This one's already gotten so many comments - it's clearly hit a nerve.

These are the same "fly-over" folks who hammer blacks for using "ebonics" yet when Obama, who has perfect diction, uses the correct pronounciation for a word they often mispronounce they hit him with the "elitist" charge.

Posted by: bob on October 9, 2008 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

Guess I'm an "elitist" because the first time I heard Obama's pronunciation of Pakistan I was uplifted. After hearing "nukeUlar" all these years, it was refreshing to hear care used in pronouncing words -- especially the name of a country. Wouldn't it be nice to have Americans looked upon as caring about such things in this shrinking world? Wouldn't it be nice to give at least the appearance of being educated? And btw, when did education become a liability? Do we really want joe sixpack meeting leaders of the world and determining the course for our country? What has happened to the dignity of the US?

Posted by: deb on October 9, 2008 at 6:38 AM | PERMALINK

Why not pronounce America as Ameer-eye-c-a. It sounds Muslim-enough for a country name to be bombed. And Palin as Pale-eye-n as she turns pale in the eye whenever she doesn't know the answer to a question. "Stein" in "Mark Stein" can also be pronounced as "stain" indicating the stain-ridden brain of his.

Posted by: Krish on October 9, 2008 at 7:08 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, the eye-rack pronunciation sounds so incredibly uneducated, and of course it is. And also she does the "nookular," which is a total misprouncing of the word. When she says that (hey, when anyone says that), it's like the squeak on a chalkboard to me.

Pakistan.... hmm. Maybe Pockistan is correct. I grew up saying Pakistan and have not heard that is incorrect but if it is, well, I will learn to say Pockistan ;-)

I think we should be calling countries the names they want to be called. Altho there is the case of Ceylon... which changed its name and now I always forget what it is called...

Posted by: Clem on October 9, 2008 at 7:19 AM | PERMALINK

Dear president Lindsay

The castillian lisp is rather important. When Spanish pronunciation began to coalesce in the 16th century, the pronunciation of s and z fell into 3 schools. Cacero (where caza (hunt) and casa (house) both pronounced with a th), sasero (using the s), and distinction (separate). Distinction is the more formal castillian form,most latin american spanish ops of sasero, and cacero is primarily andalucian (and considered to be socially inferior). It is not trivial,but is a form of social discrimination.

And as for poor Pedro of Castille, he did have a slight lisp, but the distinctive castillian th developed abouit 200 years after he died.

This infoemation may come in handy if you wish to repeat it to ensure that you are left in peace at cocktail parties.

Posted by: Rolf on October 9, 2008 at 7:40 AM | PERMALINK

To Krish:

Ignorant, red-neck Americans have already bastardized the name of your country. Instead of America, it is simply: Merica. As in: I come from Merica. I'm from Canada and I have picked this up quite frequently. Maybe Mericans are too used to hearing it.

PS: We, up her, determine the caste of an individual by the way they speak (allowing for accents, of course). Pronouncing Eye-raq, Eye-ran and Eye-talian shows us who you really are and where you come from.

Posted by: Frank M on October 9, 2008 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

To Krish:

Ignorant, red-neck Americans have already bastardized the name of your country. Instead of America, it is simply: Merica. As in: I come from Merica. I'm from Canada and I have picked this up quite frequently. Maybe Mericans are too used to hearing it.

PS: We, up her, determine the caste of an individual by the way they speak (allowing for accents, of course). Pronouncing Eye-raq, Eye-ran and Eye-talian shows us who you really are and where you come from.

Posted by: Frank M on October 9, 2008 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

"Well, Obama's pronunciation is how Pakistanis themselves pronounce it. Why is that a problem?" -Tim

For Republicans, it's not insulting enough. If someone pronounces their name a certain way and espouse Democratic ideas, it's a Republicans responsibility to try to mispronounce their name as a way of insulting them. If a Republican is corrected about said pronunciation, they simply smile and say, "oh, that's what I said isn't it?"

Or else they just say, "Macaca."

Posted by: Capt Kirk on October 9, 2008 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Its one thing not being able to pronounce a name due to native accents making it hard to enunciate. Thats acceptable IMHO.

How would Americans feel if if everone from other countries pronounced America the wrong way? For example in India, if pronounced as written in the national language, America would sound like "Um-rica". However, most people who have learned English as a second or even third language there take the time to learn how to pronounce it the right way.
Japanese people have a harder time with it since the R is much harder for them to enunciate. I think thats valid and excusable.

Get my point? Unless your native accent makes it really hard to say something, its common courtesy to learn how to pronounce a country name the authentic way. This is especially important if you are a public figure. Don't you think that it should be mandatory for anyone with a remote claim to foreign policy experience to learn the proper way to pronounce the name of a different country? Its just one word dammit - take the time to learn it.

Posted by: Noel on October 9, 2008 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

There is definitely a hemispheric anti-intellectualism shift in the cards due to increasing illiteracy where other standards and arbiters of excellence are evolving.

Posted by: kady on October 9, 2008 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Anonny on October 8, 2008 at 5:07 PM
----------------------------------

Good post, Anonny. But the word is prescient, not precient.

Posted by: RFBorjal on October 9, 2008 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

The neo-cons want us to ignore science and teach creationism instead. Instead of figuring out how to better our relationships with the world, they want to figure out how to prevent women from legally getting an abortion. Prevent gay people from getting married. Let's go out of our way to prevent people in our own country from living their lives the way they see fit, even when it doesn't hurt anyone else, and while we're at it, let's go invade as many other countries as possible.
As long as everyone goes to church on sundays and accepts Jesus(just "accept" him, you don't have to try and be like him or anything...that's probably too elitist), what other knowledge to you need?

Posted by: Christina on October 9, 2008 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

MOST people enjoy hearing their own names pronounced correctly!

Posted by: Frank Russell on October 9, 2008 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

As an American Packistani, I am so proud to know that OBAMA (* The next president of U.S) can pronounce the name of the country correctly, and took an interest to learn it properly.

Posted by: Mariyum on October 9, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

What your initial post doesn't mention is that getting pronunciation correct is a basic sign of respect for the nations and peoples being discussed, and projects a positive, intelligent image to the world -- rather than a continuation of the ugly, ignorant image we've been putting out for the last 8 years.

Posted by: plooger on October 9, 2008 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

In Portugal, we have a word for the proud-ignorance brand of conservatism that the American Republican Party has embraced: 'ultra-montano', meaning 'from beyond the hills'. Most conservatives here (yes, I know quite a few, though I am not one myself) would be embarassed to be associated with such a brand. On the contrary, they value a classical cultural heritage, including knowledge of foreign languages (i.e. French, English, German), of History, and of other cultures (whether they like them or not). Pride in ignorance is NOT conservative: it is simply ultra-montano. And not a good recipe for competent global leadership, as we've seen...

Posted by: R Brito on October 9, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't McCain do the same thing with "Taliban"?

I guess it's only "elitist" or "ostentatious" or "exotic" when Obama pronounces it differently from McCain or Palin. (Why don't they start going after Democrats who don't say "nucular"?)

Posted by: Adam on October 9, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

This is sad when a "journalist" actually writes a story about a pronunciation of a word. Really this is what you are talking about. Are you that thick in the head? At least he can say the word. Palin had to go to 5 or 6 different colleges and still can not say Nuclear correctly. Please get another job. Do not bother wasting ink or paper on such silly stories. And would you mind reporting on a story that could help someone become more informed about our country. Not how to say a word, thanks I went to school and appreciate when someone speak coherently.

Posted by: Katia on October 9, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

There are moderate muslims in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, etc who would appreciate the effort to pronouce their country's name correctly, it would also help to stop making the implication that the entire region is solely populated by extremists, it isn't. This is a wartime dehuminization tactic, people aren't built emotionally to kill other people in the name of goodness or democracy, we have to train them to accept it as a necessary evil. Thats why we don't hear about the all civilian casualties, or errant bombings, knowledge of that would humanize the citizens of those nations and errode public support for the war effort, but it need not be, these are antiquated Westphalian strategies, built for fighting nationstates not insurgencies, many of the people in those countries do feel that the western way of life in more promising towards them achieving their aspirations, but when we intentionally mispronounce there country, and ignore every aspect of moderation in their vast and diverse religion, or ridicule anyone with an (arabian) or muslim name, then they like Americans do what all people do when they don't feel that they may ever be completely understood or accepted as a equal in such a society, they cling to those things which they feel gives them strength, respect, confidence, or faith in a higher aspiration. In short they get bitter, right before the get angry, their young sons see this anger and sadness, and do as all men have done in history when their people are oppressed, they lash out and fight often in ignorance for a cause that they may understand emotionally, but rarely ever understand pragmatically. You must understand the psychology of percieved oppression in order to diffuse the threat of terrorism, because by definition you cannot completely defeat terrorism with military action lest you are willing to commit genocide, because even if they want to die killing them all would still be genocide and give us one more bullet point in the genocide history column with Nazi Germany, The Antebellum American South and Dafur.

Posted by: M_Mushima on October 9, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm the only one who has noticed that Obama pronounces the names of ALL foreign countries on the political agenda correctly. This isn't the mark of an elite - it's the mark of an educated world citizen, which is what is needed right now.

Every time the Republicans are in power it becomes an act of xenophobic jingoistic patriotism to deliberately mangle the pronunciation of the names of enemies and enemy nations: Eye-raq, Eye-ran, Suh-DAM, Oh-SAM-uh bin LAY-din, PACK-ih-STAN, Mo-HAM-id AT-uh, AF-GAN-uh-STAN, SAW-dee Uh-RAY-bee-uh, SO-MAL-ee-yuh and the rest. All of these, along with "nu-kyuh-lur," are nothing more than a not-secret code for bigotry, examples of how the control of language is deployed by Republicans to project control over the world by pinpointing targets and linguistically mangling them. (Let's not even get started on the Freedom Fries.) This game is played out countless times on grade school playgrounds to pick on kids with a difference, but even more to establish the boundaries of inclusive, controlling cliques of power-mad little idiots. It is indicative that it is played by grown-up Republicans with relish.

Posted by an ex-pat elite who voted by mail today for Obama

Posted by: fava on October 9, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

The Power of Unreason

Obama has been winning the debates and is striding ahead in the polls�which is why he now has more to fear than ever before

During the past eight years, anti-rationalism of every sort has become the defining strategy of right-wing American politics. Exactly four years ago, near the end of the 2004 campaign, Ron Suskind of the New York Times reported a chilling conversation with a Bush aide who told him that the press belonged to the "reality-based community" of Americans who "believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernible reality." But, he added, "that's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality, we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too. We're history's actors� and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

This distinction between history's actors and those who are fit only to study the results not only expresses a general contempt for learning but also denigrates anyone who requires evidence, rather than emotion and faith, to justify public policy. An exchange during the vice-presidential debate last week between Palin and Joseph Biden captures this mindset. Biden had spoken about the Bush administration's deregulation of financial institutions as a major factor in the nation's economic woes. Palin replied, "Say it ain�t so, Joe. There you go again, pointing backward. Now doggone it, let�s look ahead and tell Americans what we plan to do for them in the future." ("Doggone it" is the limp equivalent of what, in an British pub, would be "God damn it"�just as "zounds" served as a less sacrilegious 16th-century substitute for "God's wounds.")

Biden's response was equally revealing: "The past is prologue." A friend watching the debate with me groaned. Alluding to Shakespeare, or even using the word prologue, leaves a candidate open to the dreaded charge of elitism.

Suspicion of Obama because he talks and writes too well has been a persistent theme in the McCain message (although it also was in Hillary Clinton's primary campaign). Conservatives have painted Obama as a man of "just words," rather than deeds. "Parsing words"�an accusation McCain hurled at Obama twice during the first presidential debate on 26th September, underscores the idea that a fluent command of one's native language is somehow opposed to political action. This would have been news to America's founding fathers, who, true to their Enlightenment convictions, saw no opposition between thought and action, between words and deeds. Indeed, it can be argued that the the melding of 13 quarrelsome colonies into a nation was uniquely dependent on words�those in the Declaration of Independence, in Thomas Paine�s Crisis Papers, and in the constitution itself.

http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10414

Posted by: RC on October 9, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Dude,

That's how Pakistanis say "Pakistan". I've got a few Pakistani co-workers and they mentioned that it's refreshing to hear an American pronounce their country correctly. This silly argument just goes on to prove that these right-wingers have an IQ deficit.

Posted by: Chris, Atlanta, GA on October 9, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

The New York Post video section picked up on this a while ago and has some good video comparing the two pronunciations...

http://www.nypost.com/video/?vxSiteId=0db7b365-a288-4708-857b-8bdb545cbd0f&vxChannel=NY%20Post&vxClipId=1458_386879&vxBitrate=300

Posted by: ddesario on October 9, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Petty much? So many of us are in jeopardy of losing our houses, savings, jobs, investments - etc - and the childish smears (this being probably the most petty of them all) continue.

Can we get back to some actual concerns now?

Posted by: ML8 on October 9, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Poor William F. Buckley. He must be turning over in his grave about controversy re correct pronunciation of Pakistan. With so many good true conservative values cast aside by the McCain campaign, this is just over the top.

Posted by: Ron1951 on October 9, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Like the old saying in the black community: "There's nothing more fearful to white Americans that an educated black man!"

Posted by: RAYMOND on October 9, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

I have heard Obama say that Reverend Wright married "Michelle and I." That really grates on me. I know that is a common mistake but it seems like an "educated" person would know better. It's "Michelle and me."

Posted by: Linda on October 9, 2008 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Mark Stein is insignificant and his comments are base. To mock someone who correctly uses the English language, not to mention, giving respect to other countries by properly pronouncing those names, is simply pathetic and shows how uneducated he is. Obama again shows that he is a world leader because he understands how to repsect other people and other countries by the simple gesture of proper pronounciation.

Posted by: What's Wrong With America on October 10, 2008 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Reps.. You guys are really clutching at straws eh.. just for the record and in case you didn't know. Obama's pronunciation is accurate.

Compare these two videos -
Benazir Bhutto at 1:37
& Frost at 0:37
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIO8B6fpFSQ

Now compare Obama at 0:29
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIbvCT_aCb4

Posted by: Ash on October 10, 2008 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Has anyone bothered to point out that in Eye-rack and Eye-ran, when the Muslim clerics are getting the crowd riled up with a "Death to America" chant, they pronounce the name of the Great Satan as something close to om-REE-ka, not uh-MEH-rick-a. Why? Because that's how the word "America" has been assimilated into both Arabic and Farsi.

Now, it seems logical to me that if anyone is going to call native speakers of American English "ignorant" because they say "Eye-rack" and "Eye-ran" are ignorant, then Iraqis and Iranians who say "om-REE-ka" must considered every bit as ignorant, right? I mean, why on earth is it so hard for them to wrap their slovenly heathen tongues around "ah-MEH-rick-a"?

Of course, this isn't really about pronouncing foreign names "accurately" -- it's entirely about perceived class differences among English speakers, and the related matter of whose anglicization would be counted as edjumickated by (say) an editor at a national newspaper.

Posted by: Throbert McGee on October 10, 2008 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Liberalsarecool. Love the way you critique people for being unthinking boorish bigots by writing as if you are one yourself. Nice touch. Very ironic. You criticize the Governor for using a term she knows nothing about before doing the same with "nascar nation." Brilliant. As I'm sure you know, NASCAR fans are really rather diverse. I'm one. I also love Mark Rothko, among many other cultural things and people, both high and "low" brow. Of course I may just be a simpleton attracted to interesting combinations of colors wherever I find them. By the way, if you think a six-pack is a lot of beer, you need to get out more.

Cheers

Posted by: james on October 11, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

War of Northern Aggression

Last I checked, it was referred to as the Civil War.


And you started it =p

Posted by: Darren Maciel on October 11, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Comments are the chat rooms of a few years back.
The trouble with pronunciation is that there are vowels and consonants in many other languages that Americans are unable to even approach. Vowels are a matter of hearing, it seems. Consonants a matter of training tongue-mouth-throat muscles.
People who grow up in Iraq probably say something like eh-rock, people who grow up in Iran, say ee-rahn.
The vowel(s) in Steyn, or stein, or steen, do not exist in English, and therefore almost impossible to speak or even hear for most Americans.
Afghanistan has that awkward gh which is almost like an r way back in the throat. Different from kh.
None of this is important, but it is certainly true that even trying to pronounce the name of a country closer to how native speakers pronounce it is an important first step to fruitful communication with people of that country.

Posted by: Teinoaole on October 11, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Do Kathryn Jean a favor, always write her last name with the correct accent over the "o" like this:

Lpez

If she wants to be in correcting business, she'll have to get used to some correcting too. That's how we cook this goose.

BTW, you don't have to do it for J-Lo, she knows where the accent goes.

Posted by: Jos on October 11, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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