16 December 2010

Pronunciation Rant

Right you lot, I'm fed up with you misusing and mispronouncing words and some of them really really annoy me. Let's start with this one: 'masseuse'. The word comes from the French 'masser' - to massage.

Firstly, please stop referring to a 'male masseuse'. A 'masseuse' has to be, by definition, a woman. The male version of the word is 'masseur'. Got that?

Now, can you pronounce the word 'masseur'? It's a bit like 'mass' and 'err', put together. Try it. I bet you knew that already.

OK, so let's try the other one, 'masseuse'. No, it's not 'mass - oose', that's an American term for 'I can't speak French so I'll make something up'), it's pronounced 'mass -errs', or in the IPA: ma-sœz.If you insist on using French words in your speech, at least make the effort to learn the correct pronunciation so you don't sound like a tit.


Seán said...

But, I 'ave not got zat out-RAJE-ous accent!

Seriously though, foreigners pronounce English in their own accents and that's usually acceptable. So what's so bad about the English pronouncing foreign words in an Emglish accent?
It may grate a bit to hear "pot poury" rather than "po purree" or "nuggut" rather than "nou gah", but then again nobody objects to Paris (Paree), doolalley (djallillee) or those weirdos in Yorkshire who call snow "Snur".

In speaking a foreign language to a foreign person correct pronunciation is extremely useful to avoid misunderstandings, but when one language borrows a word from another the word itself has to adapt to the natural tendencies and capabilities of its speakers. So, the French have "futbal" rather than "football" and the Japanese have "erebeeta" rather than "elevator".

Personally, I like it. It adds richness and fun to the language.

Womble said...

To be honest, I don't usually moan too much about mispronunciation of foreign words, but 'mass-oos' really sets my teeth on edge :o(