Literature Abuse

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at
Mon Mar 26 04:21:29 EST 2001

Gili wrote:
>The British also backlash against French. Someone may even have noted this 
>on this list before: think of words that obviously entered British English 
>through French and you'll see they seem almost to go out of their way to 
>pronounce it differently, when often the American pronounciation is
>closer to the French.
>Garage. Baggage. Cafe. (Yes, Brits actually pronounce this Kaiff).

No we don't! We pronounce it, well, cafe. Or if it's a greasy spoon and
about as unFrench as it would be possible to get, then caff.
I don't think it's really a backlash, either. Just that when there's a
foreign word that's very useful for describing a new thing, but it's
pronounced in some funny foreign way that doesn't come natural- vowel sounds
that just don't exist in English, or something- then it gets bent into
shape. We don't pronounce adopted German or Arabic or Latin words like
Germans or Arabs or Lats would pronounce them either, any more than other
languages pronounce English loanwords the same way as native English
speakers do. And the longer ago the word was borrowed, the more anglicised
it sounds. Americans haven't had as long to mangle the French- let alone
there have been French immigrants who kept pronouncing it Frenchly.
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