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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:54 pm 
Avisaru
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One of my coworkers has a name spelled Weijun. Now, the standard Mandarin pronunciation of this name is obvious, as are a number of approximations or guesses that English speakers might use, but for some reason everyone who works here pronounces his name [waI.ju:n]. I have no idea how they would have arrived at this. Any ideas?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:50 pm 
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German?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:57 pm 
Avisaru
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Chengjiang wrote:
One of my coworkers has a name spelled Weijun. Now, the standard Mandarin pronunciation of this name is obvious, as are a number of approximations or guesses that English speakers might use, but for some reason everyone who works here pronounces his name [waI.ju:n]. I have no idea how they would have arrived at this. Any ideas?

So it's /waɪ/ as in "why", /ju:n/ as in "you" + "n"? That does seem odd. The pronunciation of "j" as /j/ doesn't seem like it would come naturally for an English speaker when dealing with a name from an Asian language. As Vijay says, this looks like it has German influence, although a fully German-style pronunciation of "Weijun" would presumably start with /v/.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:35 pm 
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Mandarin pronunciation is a minefield, so it's ironic that this particular name is quite easy— they could approximate it quite well as "way-June". (Since we're all pedants here, you probably want to know the Mandarin: [wei tɕyɪn].)

People seem to think that Mandarin spellings must be made even more exotic, and I expect that's kicking in here. "Oh, a j— that can't possibly be our j, it must be something else!"


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:58 pm 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
tʂuən

:o I thought that would be more like "zhun." I'd think "jun" would be more like [t͡ɕʏn].


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:47 pm 
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You're right. I looked this up when writing the post, and looked in the wrong column. :P


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:09 pm 
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Different Mandarin speakers will pronounce it in slightly different ways, but either "[weɪ tɕyə̯n]" (like zompist) or "[weɪ tɕyn]" (like Vijay) are good.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:51 pm 
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zompist wrote:
Mandarin pronunciation is a minefield, so it's ironic that this particular name is quite easy— they could approximate it quite well as "way-June".

Well, it's only easy if you expect other languages to share the English quirk of using «j» for a stop consonant. «ei» as /ai/ surely looks German, but «j» could be influenced by a lot of different orthografies (or even IPA).

Another possibility is that they learned the pronunciation by hearing it and English /j/ turned out to be a better approximation of what they've heard than English /dʒ/. (But then I don't know dialects of Mandarin well enough to be sure.)

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:31 pm 
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I'd have approximated it as /weɪ.ˈd͡ʒʊn/ at first glance. Normally it's the counterintuitive <c q x> and the orthographic vowel simplification rules that I get tripped up on when trying to approximate Mandarin.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:04 pm 
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StrangerCoug wrote:
I'd have approximated it as /weɪ.ˈd͡ʒʊn/ at first glance. Normally it's the counterintuitive <c q x> and the orthographic vowel simplification rules that I get tripped up on when trying to approximate Mandarin.

I would pronounce it the same way off-handedly.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:57 pm 
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zompist wrote:
People seem to think that Mandarin spellings must be made even more exotic, and I expect that's kicking in here. "Oh, a j— that can't possibly be our j, it must be something else!"


That seems more likely than anything else I’ve been able to think of; somebody’s hyperforeign guess spread to the rest of the employees as the “correct” pronunciation.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:05 pm 
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Chengjiang wrote:
One of my coworkers has a name spelled Weijun. Now, the standard Mandarin pronunciation of this name is obvious, as are a number of approximations or guesses that English speakers might use, but for some reason everyone who works here pronounces his name [waI.ju:n]. I have no idea how they would have arrived at this. Any ideas?
I wonder if the person who first used that pronunc was generally known to be accurate. Since that sounds like a Germanism, maybe they'd been good with German names in the past, and people assumed they generally were good with foreign names in general.

There was a thread a few months ago at
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=44863
where I admitted to having done the same thing a couple of times myself, once with "Euler" and another with the Chinese surname "Xie", which I pronounced /ʒi:/, and which spread to the others in my presentation group. (Though it didnt really matter since it was a 1-hr presentation and none of us likely ever talked about Dr Xie ever again.) I dont remember if my bad pronunciation of Euler spread to others or not. I think I remember the top student in the class saying under her breath "yooler? OK" but it sounds so much like my other memory that I think I've just conflated the two in my mind.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:50 pm 
Smeric
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Chengjiang wrote:
zompist wrote:
People seem to think that Mandarin spellings must be made even more exotic, and I expect that's kicking in here. "Oh, a j— that can't possibly be our j, it must be something else!"


That seems more likely than anything else I’ve been able to think of; somebody’s hyperforeign guess spread to the rest of the employees as the “correct” pronunciation.

They could've even all happened to make the same guess.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:52 pm 
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I'd be laughing because I couldn't help thinking of this guy...

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:53 am 
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Soap wrote:
and another with the Chinese surname "Xie", which I pronounced /ʒi:/


To be fair, that's a lot closer than the head porter managed at my matriculation with the surnames "Looi" (Mandarin "Lei") and "Xia", which she pronounced [luaɪ] and [zaɪə]. One would have thought that after probably decades now of Chinese presence among the student body at Cambridge the staff would have at least a vague idea how to pronounce Chinese names something at least approximating the actual pronunciation but apparently not.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:32 pm 
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I just witnessed the cringiest thing this morning. I was watching the morning news show, and they had this cooking segment on it. One of the two hosts said that they were going to have something really yummy-sounding: [ˈɡojs]. The two hosts were talking about this word, and then they asked the chef about the pronunciation. She said "I would pronounce it ['ɡojsa]".

You're never gonna guess what dish they were making! The answer is below.
More: show
Gyōza [ɡjoːza]. Somehow they all got struck with dyslexia, switching the place of the Y and the O (and the one host first failing to notice the A at the end). Now, understandably this is a difficult word. Although it shouldn't be as difficult for Swedes as for e.g. English speakers, because we do have a bunch of Cj clusters. Though we don't have [gj]. Anyway, watching this really made me cringe. >_<

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:31 pm 
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An update:

I got an opportunity to talk to Weijun alone. His name is pronounced in the standard Mandarin way. He just isn’t interested in correcting anybody, which is understandable. There is also one other employee who uses more or less one of the mildly Anglicized “logical” pronunciations posted.

At this point, my best guess about the origin of this pronunciation is the for some of the (several) L1 Spanish speakers working here an overheard [dZ] got interpreted as a /j\/ at some point and other people heard the name from them first and heard a /j/. The vowel could just be from guessing one of the various sounds <ei> has in English. As far as I know nobody here speaks German.

Also ewww to [gojs].

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:14 pm 
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i think in the USA, children born in the early 1970s were most likely to have grown up during the time when phonics had fallen out of favor in the US public school system, and are more likely to have trouble with foreign words and even irregular English ones. My sister is a good example of this, but one of my teachers in high school might be a better example. This was when I was at the peak of my conworld historigography, not that i called it that, and she simply couldnt pronounce the name of the military leader the protagonist was supposed to be fighting against: Adabawa. Literally, cant get a simpler name to pronounce than that ... it's baby talk .... but she couldnt do it. Best she could come up with was [adə'dabwə].

Apparently, they were never taught how to sound out words, in the theory that English spelling is so irregular it's best to just skip it and teach words as indivisible wholes. But this apparently led to difficulties in pronouncing words from other languages, even languages with simple spelling rules such as Spanish and (romanized) Japanese, as above. From someone who looks at a word like {gyoza} letter by letter but is uncomfortable with the original pronunctiation, I would expect something like /gi'oza/. From someone who apparently grew up looking at words as unbreakable, atomic units, "goyza" makes perfect sense. Im not sure if the phonics theory explains Sweden, though. (Or was the show in English? Im not sure what Britain's school curriculum was like, anyway.)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:47 pm 
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Soap wrote:
i think in the USA, children born in the early 1970s were most likely to have grown up during the time when phonics had fallen out of favor in the US public school system, and are more likely to have trouble with foreign words and even irregular English ones. My sister is a good example of this, but one of my teachers in high school might be a better example. This was when I was at the peak of my conworld historigography, not that i called it that, and she simply couldnt pronounce the name of the military leader the protagonist was supposed to be fighting against: Adabawa. Literally, cant get a simpler name to pronounce than that ... it's baby talk .... but she couldnt do it. Best she could come up with was [adə'dabwə].

Apparently, they were never taught how to sound out words, in the theory that English spelling is so irregular it's best to just skip it and teach words as indivisible wholes. But this apparently led to difficulties in pronouncing words from other languages, even languages with simple spelling rules such as Spanish and (romanized) Japanese, as above. From someone who looks at a word like {gyoza} letter by letter but is uncomfortable with the original pronunctiation, I would expect something like /gi'oza/. From someone who apparently grew up looking at words as unbreakable, atomic units, "goyza" makes perfect sense. Im not sure if the phonics theory explains Sweden, though. (Or was the show in English? Im not sure what Britain's school curriculum was like, anyway.)

This is why my mom got out of teaching and has no plans of going back in, because she found the "whole language" approach so utterly ineffectual.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:12 am 
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you know, I've always been confused as to why so many people have trouble with sounding out foreign names, and I should've guessed that the answer was the school system getting worse

(I've never had any trouble with it, but my parents taught me how to read... which got me withdrawn from one of the first schools they put me in, since the teachers there insisted that it was literally impossible for anyone to learn to read outside school)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:12 am 
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Nortaneous wrote:
you know, I've always been confused as to why so many people have trouble with sounding out foreign names, and I should've guessed that the answer was the school system getting worse

(I've never had any trouble with it, but my parents taught me how to read... which got me withdrawn from one of the first schools they put me in, since the teachers there insisted that it was literally impossible for anyone to learn to read outside school)

...That is one of the most ignorant things I have ever heard. O_O

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:59 am 
Smeric
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Zaarin wrote:
Nortaneous wrote:
you know, I've always been confused as to why so many people have trouble with sounding out foreign names, and I should've guessed that the answer was the school system getting worse

(I've never had any trouble with it, but my parents taught me how to read... which got me withdrawn from one of the first schools they put me in, since the teachers there insisted that it was literally impossible for anyone to learn to read outside school)

...That is one of the most ignorant things I have ever heard. O_O

School staff can say the dumbest things sometimes. When I was in middle school, I wanted to take both French and Spanish, both of which I already spoke fairly well, but my school counselor absolutely insisted that it was humanly impossible to take both in the same semester even if the classes were on alternating days. She said "you'd need an IQ of a thousand" in order to be able to learn two languages simultaneously. She was really hellbent on making sure I didn't take two languages at the same time! She told me it was so hard for her just to learn Spanish, so how could I learn two languages well when one language is already hard enough? She even gathered a round table of fellow students (I think there were four or five of them) to try to convince me that learning two languages was such a bad idea and I should drop it because just learning one is so hard and it was scary enough to have to take one foreign language class. She didn't stop making this difficult for me until my dad finally called up the school district board to complain and appeal on my behalf. Even after that, she demanded that I get As in both classes or else I wouldn't be allowed to continue taking two languages, which was no problem for me because those were my favorite classes.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:22 pm 
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Back when I started school, my teacher hated me because I could already read and count (in my head) before I started, while she insisted that children that age had to learn to count by pointing and reciting the numbers aloud.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:41 pm 
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Vijay wrote:
Zaarin wrote:
Nortaneous wrote:
you know, I've always been confused as to why so many people have trouble with sounding out foreign names, and I should've guessed that the answer was the school system getting worse

(I've never had any trouble with it, but my parents taught me how to read... which got me withdrawn from one of the first schools they put me in, since the teachers there insisted that it was literally impossible for anyone to learn to read outside school)

...That is one of the most ignorant things I have ever heard. O_O

School staff can say the dumbest things sometimes. When I was in middle school, I wanted to take both French and Spanish, both of which I already spoke fairly well, but my school counselor absolutely insisted that it was humanly impossible to take both in the same semester even if the classes were on alternating days. She said "you'd need an IQ of a thousand" in order to be able to learn two languages simultaneously. She was really hellbent on making sure I didn't take two languages at the same time! She told me it was so hard for her just to learn Spanish, so how could I learn two languages well when one language is already hard enough? She even gathered a round table of fellow students (I think there were four or five of them) to try to convince me that learning two languages was such a bad idea and I should drop it because just learning one is so hard and it was scary enough to have to take one foreign language class. She didn't stop making this difficult for me until my dad finally called up the school district board to complain and appeal on my behalf. Even after that, she demanded that I get As in both classes or else I wouldn't be allowed to continue taking two languages, which was no problem for me because those were my favorite classes.

In college, my guidance counselor first told me that "no one should take more than two or three classes at a time" (I do kind of want to graduate someday...preferably before I'm fifty). She then advised me not to take one professor "because she's mean" but that I should take another. The professor she defined as "mean" was strict but had standards. The professor she advised me to take was a total idiot who taught from Sparknotes and graded capriciously (seriously, he graded me down on a paper for using "therefore" rather than "thusly"...). Suffice to say I took as many classes as I could get from the "mean" professor and never took the idiot she advised me to take again. :?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:54 pm 
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Had some similar situations in the pre-school class, for instance when I was able to read all letters and write them in upper case, but I was supposed to know only some of the letters (e.g. vowels*) and write them in cursive. Or when I got laughed at by the staff for rotating a drawing while coloring it (which supposedly had to show I'd do the same thing when writing).

*) When I used to go to school, they taught it one letter at a time, starting with vowels, then some common consonants like «m», «t» or «l», then, gradually, the rest. Looks like they've intermixed it now.

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In college, my guidance counselor first told me that "no one should take more than two or three classes at a time" (I do kind of want to graduate someday...preferably before I'm fifty).

Luckily, I don't know what a “guidance counselor” is and how you can take less than seven classes in one semester (except the semester when you write your thesis, when you take only four). :P

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