Words From Andy
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Why do we suddenly develop foreign accents when saying foreign names?

Ever since President Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor to take over the vacant seat that was left by retiring supreme court justice David Souter, I've been noticing something odd. It appears that news casters are suddenly developing Spanish accents when pronouncing Sotomayors last name. Granted, it is a name, and you do want to make sure it is pronounced correctly. So I can give the media a pass on this, but it did make me think of how people will spontaneously break into a foreign accent when talking.

What's up with that? Ever come across this? Example, someone will be talking about their trip to Paris and instead of saying Paris they instead say "Pari," because that's how the french say it. They call it "Gay Pari" for a reason. Look, if you are not of a certain language group, it is not imperative to pronounce things the way the would. Do you think the same people would say "Oh yeah, I'm gonna go see München over in Deutschland? I hear the have some great lederhosen over there." Nope. Why? Because if you pronounce thins in a German accent you sound like your trying to cough up a lung. You say that line and the guy your talking to is libel to ask you if you have swine flu.

So people are apparently picky about what language they like to bust into when speaking, and I've noticed it's usually Spanish and French that get the momentary pickup. Something I'm sure the Mexicans and French love. Ever heard of Mehieco? Nope, I've heard of Mexico though. Here's a fun game to play though, next time you go to old "Mehieco," stop down in Tijuana and say how much your enjoying "Mechieco," then tell me how well that goes for you.

Another thing that tends to stick in my craw and turn my hackles red is when people use a foreign accent when talking about something that ISN'T FOREIGN. Take Target, for example. People will pronounce the store's name Tar-juay, with a french sounding j, or J.C Penyay. Does that really make the store more classy? No, no it doesn't.

Now here's the thing I wonder. Do the French and Spanish enjoy having their accent mimicked like that? I don't know, but I would personally find it annoying. Lets do this for an example, I have a western NY accent, if you never heard it before, it sounds something like a Ohio, Michigan type standard American accent being spoken but holding the nose when pronouncing vowel. Attractive? Let's just say it's not Australian that's for sure.

Now take the city closest to me, Rochester. If you are from Rochester you do not pronounce it the way it is spelled. We pronounce it Raht-Chest-er. This pronunciation has led to the often used mispronunciation of Rot-chest-er by those who don't like the city.

No, I'm not a really big fan of my accent. If I could choose a new one, chances are, I would. But, this is the way I speak. It's the way I learned to speak, it's me. And believe me, I can pick up when someone is trying to sound like they're from Western NY when they obviously are not. And it's kinda annoying. And that's between dialects of an American Accent. Now there are a lot of dialects of American Accents, because we are so big, but most foreigners can only recognize two. Standard American, which is that Midwest, Michigan area accent, it's what news casters speak, and American Southern. Sames true for other countries, take Scottish. Most Americans could only recognize Scottish, but really there are I think three dialects of it.

Anyway, I'm going off on a bit of a tangent. Here's the point I'm trying to make. Be yourself, it's that easy. No foreigner is going to look down at you if you pronounce their city with an American accent, your an American, that's how you talk. They may, however, think that you are mocking them by trying to use their accent. If that's the case, by all means, but if not, just stick with the way you talk. It's who you are after all.

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