HomeQ&A¿Dónde desea trabajar María? ¿Qué desea ser Tomás?

¿Dónde desea trabajar María? ¿Qué desea ser Tomás?

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I need to know what this phrase means. It is on a paper (dido) I have that I don't get.

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updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by dave7

18 Answers

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Just to clarify, I agree that written and ridden are pronounced differently by most people, and my comment was about riding and writing, which I maintain are pronounced the same by most people, or at least VERY similarly, as opposed to the very clear difference in their pronunciation in British English. And I didn't mean to imply that all embedded T sounds are pronounced as D in English, and I agree with samdie that it depends on the word.

In fact, I heard Hugh Laurie, who is a British actor currently playing an American doctor on the hit TV show, House, talking about how he learned to speak like an American. He said one of the main things he had to learn to do was change his T's to D's. Little becomes liddle, better becomes bedder, etc. And, by the way, his American accent is perfect, the best I have ever heard from a non-American.

updated NOV 24, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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Salida . . .

There's a city in Missouri called El Dorado Springs. Dorado is Dor-ADE-oh, long a. If it didn't have the "El" attached, it wouldn't be quite so aggravating . . .

updated NOV 23, 2008
posted by Natasha
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Oh yes the "carry-okee" thing is horrible! I think Americans in general, were they to order spaghetti bolognese, generally would say the right sounds but with a sort of lack of inflection (i.e. not much emphasis on any particular syllable or syllables).

En Colorado (un estado de los EEUU que es famoso por montañas increíbles) hay un pueblo que se escribe como "Salida," (es decir el lugar donde se sale, en inglés "exit") llamado por los habitantes locales "Sa-LAI-da" - casi como se dice, en inglés, la sustancia secretamos dentro de la boca cuando se dice "me hace agua en la boca". Eso me parece ridículo.

updated NOV 22, 2008
posted by max
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Loan words are certainly a major problem (especially ones that are fairly recent). I have no real problem with saying "Paris" (when speaking English and talking of the city) since it's been pronounced that way in English for centuries. My main objection to using "English" pronunciations of foreign words is that it's so hard to remember exactly how the pronunciation has been distorted in English. For the most part I agree with the "approved" pronunciations (in the above mentioned "Beastly Pronunciations"), but there are some (especially loan words) that I will never adopt. When I hear someone say "carry oakie" for "karaoke" ("kara" like "cara" in Spanish/Italian and "oke" [if you can't handle the vowel sounds of Japanese/Spanish/Italian] Anglicized as "O.K.") I just want to scream. I never know how to say "Chartres" (the city/cathedral) in English. I do know how to say it in French but there are so many ways that the pronunciation could be butchered in English, that I usually give up and just use the French pronunciation. I don't much mind if "chili peppers" sounds like "chilly" in English but I will never say "chilly-un" when I mean Chilean.

I might have a problem ordering "spaghetti bolognese" at MacDonald's (if I ever went there) but, in an Italian restaurant'! I wouldn't have a moment's hesitation about pronouncing it as one does in Italian (on the contrary, if their staff were unable to cope with the names of Italian dishes in Italian, I'd think twice about going back to that restaurant). Come to think of it; what do Americans call this dish, Baloney/Balonya spagetti'

updated NOV 22, 2008
posted by samdie
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In response to Max:

Agreed! My dad speaks several European languages and he has been criticized before for "showing off" with his high-falutin' (that is, correct) pronunciation of loan words. We may say that such ignorance is lamentable, but it exists.

One of the most frustrating conversations in my life was with a couple who had background in Louisiana Cajun country. They moved to St. Louis, MO (where I grew up) and could not accept the local pronunciation of names like Bellfontaine (Bell-fountain), Gravois (Grav-oiss), and Florissant, to name a few. My insistence that Florissant is pronounced FLOR-i-sunt (without exception, by locals) was met by equal insistence that such a corrupted pronunciation had to be wrong!

updated NOV 22, 2008
posted by Natasha
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I have had the experience - frequently - of knowing words quite well from reading them, and indeed having used them in written English, but not being at all sure how they are said out loud. I live in Massachusetts, where we have quite a lot of place-names of either foreign or Native American origin and their pronunciation is completely unpredictable to visitors. In fact, knowing how to correctly pronounce these proper names is a kind of badge that certifies that you are a "local" rather than one of the many students or tourists.

Where things get complicated, in my observation, is how one pronounces foreign words that are used commonly in English. For example, I am in the habit of pronouncing the word "Angst" as it is said in German, but I think most people in the US use a long A, not a short A. In Italian restaurants, it is just as odd to pronounce the word "spaghetti bolognese" in an Italian way (with 4 syllables on the second word, with more "crescendo / diminuendo" than we use in English) as it would be to say, phonetically, "bo-log-neez", i.e. to pronounce it according to the rules of English pronounciation. There are certain conventions about how we say certain foreign words - to a certain degree, I think we say them as close as we can to the original language but using only the sounds that exist in our language. But not always - the international airport nearest to Tokyo is supposed to be prounced in Japanese with some emphasis on the first syllable (not much, I think) but flight attendants on Northwest always seem to call it "nar-EE-ta". (Of course the r sound is also different - more like Spanish, in a way). Anyhow, once I was in Paris in McDonald's and got completely paralyzed about how to order a double cheesburger in "French" - should I pronounce it with a French accent (and risk sounding like I'm making fun of French people, a la Inspector Clouseau) or pronounce it in an American accent, which may sound unintelligible to a French McDonald's employee. (I should just have gone to a French restaurant to avoid this problem!).

Sorry for the long essay on a subject where I really am talking out of my rear end.

updated NOV 22, 2008
posted by max
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I think that "tt"="dd" is a bit of an overstatement for "careful" speakers. When speaking carefully/formally (but I'm not talking about the sort of "over-articulation" that one might occasionally use for didactic purposes) I'd use and unvoiced occlusive for "tt" (like the intervocalic "t" in Spanish) instead of the plosive "t". It also depends (unpredictably) on the word: I agree with Natasha's written/ridden and would add wetting/wedding, utter/udder, et al.. That notwithstanding, careful speakers of English (at least in the U.S.) are distinctly in the minority (if not an endangered species). Casual conversation is, however, a different madder. Then I'd usually agree with James that
(in many udderences) the tt/dd become indistinguishable.

For more on commonly mispronounced words, one can read "The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations" by Elster. He (the author) also delights in finding contradictory pronunciations given by various well known dictionaries (and excoriating the ones that don't agree with him).

updated NOV 22, 2008
posted by samdie
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Where does Maria want to work? What does Tomas want to be?

And it's "ditto" not "diddo."

updated NOV 21, 2008
posted by Kyle-Mikami
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how do native English speakers pronounce words they do not recognize

James has hit the nail on the head when he says native English speakers invariably end up discovering words that they've mis-pronounced all their lives. It's happened to me before, and it's happened to others who are better educated than I. My sister (I'll pick on her since she's not on the forum) grew up saying ant-i-cue (for "antique") until someone finally corrected her. Paradoxically, being a good speller can actually make the problem worse. When learning a new word (in print), the only safe bet is to look it up in the dictionary for the pronunciation.

In any setting that requires adults to read aloud (Sunday School for example), the readers will invariably take one of two approaches if they come to a word they don't know, or an unpronounceable name: (1) "fake" it, and everyone will assume they're right because they don't know either; or (2) make light of it by turning it into a joke, saying something like "Jedid-whatever-his-name-was."

Names of places are absolutely the worst. You can't guess it from the spelling or how the word "ought" to be pronounced (we say French words however we please) or from how it's pronounced elsewhere. The only way to get it right is to ask a local. (Try saying Poughkeepsie, NY sometime.)

Why are you guys are saying that "written" sounds like "ridden'" It doesn't to me, but what do I know about phonetics'

updated NOV 21, 2008
posted by Natasha
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I think every native English speaker has had at least one embarrassing moment in which he realizes that he has been mispronouncing a word his whole life. I remember sitting in a Japanese class years ago, listening to a lecture in Japanese. An American guy sitting next to me leaned over and asked, "What is suiheisen'" I told him it meant horizon, and he looked at me funny and said, "You mean HORizon'," with the accent on the first syllable and the long I pronounced short (as in "horrible"). I smiled and said, "No, I mean horizon." He got this panicked look on his face as he scanned the faces of the other students, who were by then all grinning. He said, "You know, like horizontal. Right'"

It was really funny. See what fun you miss by having such a logical language? wink

updated NOV 21, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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James Santiago said:

But your British friend should have known the word scintillating, which is fairly common

James, I give you a thousand dollars for every person taken at random who can describe what a scintillator is (in physics), if you give me a dollar for every one who can't, hehe.

By the way, today's quiz: do you know (without checking it up) a word in Spanish with the same Latin root?

James Santiago said:

But jargon such as chemical and medical names can be daunting to the average native speaker.

Average speaker? Some of my colleagues with degrees in Biology or Chemistry have doubts about the pronunciation of technical terms they've never come across before. The concept of not knowing how to read a word will always amaze me.

updated NOV 21, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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The pronunciation will vary somewhat in the US, but in general, TT and DD are pronounced exactly the same. Here's a funny anecdote.

An old friend who was raised in England (where the T sound is differentiated) moved to the US at the age of 14 and began attending school here. One day the teacher said "We're going to start working on our writing tomorrow." My friend heard this as "riding," and having enjoyed that sport in England, said, "Oh, that's great, I love riding." All the other students stared at her in disbelief, and it took quite a while for everyone to understand what was going on. This distinction has been all but lost in American English, and I think British English is superior in this particular respect.

As for reading unfamiliar words, well, we use dictionaries. But your British friend should have known the word scintillating, which is fairly common, and therefore should have been able to read the other word with no trouble. With the vast majority of English words, there is a pattern even to the unusual pronunciations, so we don't usually have too much trouble. But jargon such as chemical and medical names can be daunting to the average native speaker.

updated NOV 21, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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James Santiago said:

Yes, "detto" in modern, standard Italian. Unfortunately, in American English "ditto" and "diddo" are pronounced exactly the same way, which is probably what led to Dave's comical error.

Actually, I've been wondering about that for some time. So, do the typical TT and DD sound exactly the same, more or less the same, or just close? Things like this could have modified the language and the spelling radically in the past in a very short time span (before the prints and the telecommunications, of course).

And speaking of comical errors, one of my (British) students found the word "scintillator" for the first time, and he read it as "eskintileitor". I corrected him, of course, but this made me wonder how do native English speakers pronounce words they do not recognize. I used to believe that, because I was a foreigner, my English wasn't good enough to be able to read words correctly, but now I realize that it is a nearly impossible mission. In any case, how do natives manage? How do you learn how to read words you see in books, but you've never heard before'

updated NOV 21, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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lazarus1907 said:

Ditto comes from an old Italian dialect, and it literally means "said!" (as said before, as I said, that's what I said), with the usual Latin ending in T for past participles.

Yes, "detto" in modern, standard Italian. Unfortunately, in American English "ditto" and "diddo" are pronounced exactly the same way, which is probably what led to Dave's comical error.

updated NOV 21, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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Ditto comes from an old Italian dialect, and it literally means "said!" (as said before, as I said, that's what I said), with the usual Latin ending in T for past participles.

updated NOV 21, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
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