Saturday, July 4, 2009

Perfecting Presidential Pronunciation

A very interesting article in Politico about President Barack Obama's penchant for perfecting the pronunciation of names and places. In fact, Obama's correct pronunciation of Pakistan caused controversy during the 2008 presidential election because some of his critics felt his pronunciation was not American enough.

According to Politico: "In Obama’s view, pronouncing someone’s name or hometown correctly is a simple way of showing respect, they say. It’s a sort of baseline diplomacy. That’s particularly so in foreign relations, where aides say the president will privately practice pronouncing a leader’s name a number times before saying it publicly. It’s not just people’s names. Obama also often pronounces places in their local way. Take Pakistan — or PA-kih-ston, as the president says. Obama has pronounced Pakistan the way Pakistanis do for as long as he’s been in public life — a thoughtful consequence of him having Pakistani roommates in college that has its share of critics. The president affords the same effort to other important words in a culture. In the Muslim – or Moo-slim, as Obama says — world, he pronounces Taliban as Tal-e-bon, and Koran as Ku-ron."

Two countries' pronunciations not mentioned in the article that Americans regularly slaughter: Iraq and Iran.

The way most Americans pronounce Iraq and Iran: I-Rack and I-Ran
Proper pronunciation: E-Rock and E-Ron.

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