I am sick of all the armchair experts

All those people who claim to be experts on Iran and Iraq, but can’t even get the countries’ names right.? It’s not Eye-rack or Eye-ran, or even Eye-rain.? They are not the Eye-rainians or the Eye-rackies.

They are not Mazlim.

We have been in a war for five years, and even the so-called “experts” can’t get the pronunciation right?? What kind of experts are they then?? I stop listening to their analysis the moment I hear “Eye-rack”.

All this, in a country where people take pains to make sure they pronounce your name right.? That’s what makes it even more shocking.


22 thoughts on “I am sick of all the armchair experts

  1. Really ? I haven’t met a single person from USA who can pronounce Indian names as they should be. Worst part the Indian Americans who speak with American accents (atleast try to :P) they too screw up the normal Indian names. 😐 I am not surprised to hear that they do with Iraq or Iran as well.

  2. If you mispronounce the name of a foreigner they correct you immediately and this is my own personal experience when I was working in an international school. I never minded that, as one should try and get names right. However Indians don’t bother to correct those who pronounce their name wrong. Instead they imitate them, they pronounce the names like the foreigners do!! Funny.

  3. Aaargh. Hate it.
    (Oh and I am reading a book by a professor at U. Penn and at least twice in the book, he spells Gandhi as “Ghandi”.)

  4. BlueMist: My own experience has been that people in the US do try, even if they can’t get the accent right. It also depends on us. I make sure people say my name right, even if they have to repeat it 2-3 times πŸ™‚
    On that note, I agree with you, I also get riled at desis who deliberately mispronounce their own names the way to give it a faux-American accent.

    Nita: That’s very true. I wonder why people do it – do they think they are being considerate towards foreigners by giving them an easy way to pronounce their name? But then, would the other person do the same thing?
    I find that some kids who grow up in the US have adopted the US attitude. A friend’s daughter would always make sure her teachers and friends got her name right. “It’s Jah-na-vi” she would repeat patiently, until they got it right πŸ™‚ We need more such kids..

    km: I have seen that spelling in too many places too 😦 Why such carelessness, when the correct spelling is just a Google search away, if only one bothers.. I guess people would be more careful if only they realized how much they can damage their credibility by a mis-spelling like that. I would have grimaced at the first instance of “Ghandi” and closed the book at the second one πŸ™‚

  5. km: As a Penn alumnus I am shocked by your finding. And where have all the proof-readers gone? When I read a book published by a reputable Press in, say, the 1950s, I may find one minor error in fifty pages, perhaps in part because by the time the proofs came in the author was not already “busy” with his next production.

  6. Hey! A few days back, I was telling my spouse the very same thing – these politicians and so-called experts can’t even take the trouble to pronouce a country’s name right! How stupid is that? If this is the level of awareness at this level, it’s obviously useless to expect anything better from the man on the street.
    As for Indian names, I’d say some of them try to say them right, but end up making a mess. And lots of Indians go out of our way to shorten/Anglicize their names in an effort to fit in, losing a part of their identity in the process.

  7. I know !!! I get irritated at it too. And you are sooooo right about the pronounciation thingie…they take pains to pronounce your name right and wonder why they arent doing the same thing here!

  8. Lekhni:

    The BBC devotes an entire department to ensuring correct pronunciation. There are also regular posts on the Beeb’s editorial blogs on pronouncing new and unfamiliar names in the news.

    That said, in Britain, most people actually ask how one’s name is pronounced and spelt the first time around. They do not shorten their own names nor do they expect others to. It may be said that the British have more familiarity with ‘foreign’ names than Americans might have had (although Eye-rack is not an American malady but a wider North American one, in my experience).

    I also think we should take responsibility for our own names being pronounced correctly. When my name is mis-pronounced, I correct people right away. Some have explained to me why they make the mistake and it is mainly to do with that they expect a different phonetic spelling for the way my name is pronounced. This, I am afraid, is a problem of transposing a name in a WYSIWYG (in phonetic terms) language, namely Hindi, into one where pronunciation bears little relationship with the spelling (remember, Chupke Chupke? And Dharmendra’s ‘p-u-t’ put and ‘b-u-t’ but routine with Sharmila Tagore’s brother-in-law?).

    Add to that the fact that even most Indians cannot pronounce the ‘nuqta’ (the dot under the ‘k’ sounds in Iraq) correctly. So there are problems wherever we look. πŸ™‚

  9. ??!: Yes, it’s not a good feeling to find that “experts” don’t make much sense 😦

    mysticmargarita: I am completely with you on both points. It’s true, some of them make a mess of Indian names. But then there are many names I mangle too (Eastern European, Chinese). So I can see that the accent may be hard. But I don’t see why Indians should shorten their names.

    La vida Loca: Your avatar is winking at me πŸ™‚

    snippetsnscribbles: Yeah, I don’t get it either. They don’t even notice that each of them pronounces it differently..

    Shefaly: The checking of how one’s name is pronounced happens here too, which is why I am surprised they are so careless about these names. I also agree with you that we should make sure people pronounce our names correctly. Of course, this is as individuals, and does not apply to the Eye-rack issue, where the “expert” is on the mat.
    “Chupke chupke” was a wonderful film, and now that you mention it, I do remember the “put” and “but” conversation πŸ™‚
    You are also right – Indians cannot pronounce the “q” correctly either πŸ™‚

  10. eye phonies πŸ™‚ hmmm, but have to ask, should that be the only criterion? have also heard that they make this continent sound like a slang for the posterior πŸ™‚

  11. Ask me about the name even Indians mispronounce: my daughter has one that gets mistaken for another more common one, so she ends up suffering being called Maitreyi or Mythili before she (or I) get tired and correct them. Americans on the other hand have no problem with it, provided that they heard it without seeing the spelling- monkey see, monkey do .Er…that should be ‘monkey hear, monkey say’.

  12. ACiW:

    “..what does one do with a name which Indians mispronounce let alone firangis?”

    I have found that mispronouncing the names of the offenders repeatedly usually works like a charm. πŸ˜‰

  13. Shefaly: If only more people got the “gham” right, there would be fewer “want gum?” jokes πŸ™‚ Did Suraiya sing it, then?

    UTP: Well, I am not sure if accents are that easy to correct, but pronunciations certainly should be!

    manuscrypts: I haven’t heard that one. The mispronunciation of Asia I mean..

    A Cynic in Wonderland: That must be doubly annoying, having fellow Indians mispronounce one’s name!

    Sujatha: Your comment made me curious, and I have concluded that your daughter’s name is Maitri πŸ™‚ But why would Indians mispronounce it? Sheer carelessness and inattention, I’d say. Maybe your daughter should exclaim “What, you don’t even know what xxx means?”

    Amit: Typed at my kitchen table, actually, while sitting in a chair with no arms. That makes it okay, right? πŸ˜›

  14. Lekhni:

    Don’t know – believe it or not, I haven’t yet rung my father. 😦 No time. Coordinating across time zones and calendars is pretty tricky sometimes. But will call and update you.

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