Say What?

I’m usually the sort of guy who is very irritated by people who correct my spelling. However on the other hand I’m also kind of happy that someone was kind enough to point out an error that I missed. Usually I can tell whether someone is being kind or snide, but this post is not about bad grammar or spelling, it’s about pronunciation. A not too distantly related subject but it’s specific to two words in particular. Normally I would not bother to write about such nit pick’s but in this case I am going to be dealing with foreign words, and so I feel justified in saying that we need to get them right when we say them. Plus these are two of my bugbears so TADAH! A ranting we shall go.

English speaking nations have a notorious reputation for “Barbarising” phrases of other nations, but the treatment of the word Guerrilla, Spanish for “Little War” is a particularly amusing one. For as you no doubt know it is popularly pronounced as if it was referring to the Greatest of the Apes. From TV newscasters to series’ and movies it is pronounced Gorilla, making it seem as if the phrase has more to do with the secretive nature of an endangered African animal than the strategy of Spanish insurgents. So just for the sake of sanity I’d like to set the record straight.
Gorilla: A large African Ape with great strength and intelligence, feeds on green leaves and lives in family groups lead by a dominant male called a silverback, pronounced as it is spelled.
Guerrilla: A type of low level but widespread insurgency usually conducted on a popular level, focused on hit and run attacks on an enemy’s weak points. Pronounced Gerr-ee-ya. With a hard G and usually a nice Spanish roll to the R’s if possible. At least that’s what I try to “Ape”.

My next one is a little more pedantic, and maybe I should be ashamed of myself for being picky, but it is the truth that you cannot watch any documentary about Samurai without hearing the word Bushido. And yes you’ve guessed it, most of the time English and American presenters are usually guilty of pronouncing it wrong. The word means “Way of the Warrior” and refers to the code by which a Samurai of feudal Japan conducted himself, interestingly enough Samurai is Japanese for (Servant).
The usual mistake when people pronounce this word is to lengthen it and overstate it, Boosheedo is usually what you hear but It’s actually quite a fast word and is pronounced Bushy-Doe. Yes it does conjure up an image of a verdant female deer but it’s true, honest.

Right then. That’s my little rant over with. It’s just a few things that bug me but never usually point out, and what’s a blog for if you can’t vent a little know and again.

See you next time.

Josh.

4 thoughts on “Say What?

  1. Totally with you on “bushido”. In general, as long as you get the Japanese vowel sounds right, you don’t need to do much more than that to say the word corrently. That said, I will never figure out where people caught the idea to read “karaoke” as “Care-EE-oh-KEE.”

    I was guilty of “gorilla”, though. I’ll try to say it correctly from now on!

    • Got to admit I’ve been guilty of mispronouncing Karaoke before, and yet I have stared at the spelling in a sort of transfixed mistifacation thinking that’s just not right. But even simple spellings, like Katana, suffer from the same problem, the A’s get elongated and over pronounced. Must be something to do with the way people speak English. Thanks for commenting, great to have the input.

  2. I understand why karaoke gets mispronounced – mainly because everyone mispronounces it, so it’s easy to copy others. But I’ll never understand why I meet so many people who struggle to pronounce, as noted, simple Japanese words like katana. Japanese romanization is so clear; I wonder if people convince themselves that it must be harder to say than it seems.

    And guerrilla? Guilty of mispronouncing it in English – despite the fact that I’m a native Spanish speaker!

    • I was guilty of Gorilla-ing until I heard Spanish people say it, and I saw the light, after that I just had to blog it. Now when I look at it, it becomes obvious.

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