There are plenty of much greater criticisms, and I have them, as any regular reader of this site knows, and no one was more irritated by George Bush’s “nucular” than I was, but I find the new president’s own verbal affectations quite annoying.

“Tahleebahn”? “Pahkeestahn”?

Who talks like this?

As Glenn Reynolds pointed out a long time ago, it’s like the NPR correspondents who work mightily to get their local Spanish inflections exactly correct when reporting on their communist heroes in Central America while not bothering to learn the difference between an auto and semi-auto gun.

Hey, it’s just “Taliban” (like “tally” and to “ban” a book), and “Pakistan” (like “pack” for a trip, and “Stan,” Oliver Hardy’s partner).

And don’t even get me started about “Oreeon.” What does he, think it’s a cookie? That one will be a real problem for the next four years unless he kills the NASA program.

[Monday morning update]

And yes, before anyone asks, while (unlike many, apparently) I had no problem with Sarah Palin’s speech patterns in general, I did find her “Eye-rak” kind of grating.

60 thoughts on “Kvetch”

  1. In the Muslim world, America is also wrongly pronounced, as “AmrEEkka”.

    Actually, it’s typically mispronounced “DEATH to AmrEEkka”.

  2. This is very annoying – the next time someone pulls this on you, ask them what the capital of France is. They’ll say Paris and you say “no, it’s Par-ee. Idiot.”

    Same with Qatar and all the media types rushing to call it “gutter” to sound all local and romantic. Even the foreign minister calls it ‘Qatar’ when speaking in English.

  3. My co-workers here in Iraq that are from Pak-is-tan… assure me that our President is mispronouncing the name of their country, though as many others have mentioned it is in fact Uf-ghan-is-tan… and certainly not Eye-raq or I -rock…

  4. Plus, that’s how they pronounced it in elementary school in Indonesia.


    This is also why he doesn’t know about Orion, because he would have learned Greek mythology and astrological stars in elementary school, not high school.

  5. Did anyone hear Obama’s radio address last Saturday? I only heard excerpts on the news, but he pronounces “integral” as “intrical” (or, at best, “intregal”). This should be the new nucular. If Bush had said it, the press would be all over him.

  6. While we are determining proper pronunciations for American dialect, can we address forté? I know it’s supposed to be pronounced just “fort” but it sounds stupid.
    Say for-tay. It’s just better that way.
    BTW, when I was in Chile they referred to US folks as “Norte Americanos.”
    Poor Canadians. They have been labeled out of existence by a country named after a fruit.
    My stance on pronunciation in general is “do the common thing.”
    If you pronounce words in a common and unremarkable way, people will listen to what you are saying rather than how you say it. Hence, Spanglish pronunciation of cities in California, batun rewj Louisiana, Kay-ro Illinoy. The trouble comes when we occupy countries we never paid any attention to before. Who cared how Offguniston was pronounced in 2000?
    And no one corrects the Univision announcer when they say “Los Estados Unidos.”

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